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When it comes to sales management leadership, things can get over-complicated. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best ideas. Here are four easy sales coaching tips, any one of which can help you become a more successful sales manager.
To follow-up on a coaching conversation, use Outlook’s “Delay Send” feature
I often hear from over-worked sales managers how difficult it is for them to remember to follow-up on all coaching conversations. Follow-up is essential because that is the step in the coaching process where you communicate to your salesperson that you actually expect them to make the changes you recommended during a coaching session.
My suggestion is to do the following: at the conclusion of a sales coaching conversation, while the issue is still fresh in your mind, compose an email follow-up message to the sales rep. Then decide when the appropriate time to follow-up would be and use the “Delay Send” feature in Outlook to schedule when your follow-up message will be sent. Be sure to “bcc” yourself.
Employee recognition: Use the “3 coins” technique to catch people doing something right
Recognition is one of the best motivators for sales team managers. Trouble is, we forget to do it. We get so busy that we don’t notice all the little things that our salespeople are doing to crack-open a new account, get an important appointment, seek more referrals from satisfied customers, etc. And then one day they resign because they’re no longer satisfied with us.
Recently in one of my sales coaching training sessions, I heard a great sales coaching tip for how sales managers can remember to use recognition on a daily basis: an experienced sales manager shared how he starts each day by placing three coins in his left pocket. Then each time he would recognize a salesperson for a job well-done he would move one coin from the left to the right pocket. The goal was, by the end of each day, to move all three coins from one pocket to the other.
When a sales rep brings you a problem, ask the two magic questions
A salesperson says to you, “Hey, boss. We have a problem.” Notice they use the word, “we.” The sales rep is hoping that you will take over responsibility for their problem so they can do something else.
Remember this: every time sales managers do something that someone else can do (like solve a sales rep’s problem), sales managers prevent the accomplishment of something that only they can do (like coach salespeople).
So, when a sales rep brings you a problem, ask the salesperson my two magic questions:
“What have you done about it so far?” And,
“What do you think ought to be done?”
These two questions involve your salesperson in solving their own problem(s). The questions send the message to the salesperson that when they bring you a problem they should also bring a solution. And when the solution they bring is something they can take care of themselves, well, empower them to go ahead and do it.
Coach salespeople every day
When I bought my first home, years ago, my next-door neighbor didn’t have a built-in sprinkler system. In the heat of summertime, his lawn would get brown and sickly-looking. So my neighbor bought a portable “Rainbird” sprinkler that, every Saturday, he would drag around to different positions on his lawn and leave it sprinkling water for long periods of time. I noticed that most of the water he was dispensing was running off down the gutter.
It occurred to me that many sales managers coach salespeople in the same way. We leave them alone until they have a really bad month or two, and then when they under-perform we swoop in with our portable Rainbird of coaching and drown them with our sales management. It’s as if we’re saying, “If you’re bad enough, I’ll be your sales manager.”
At my house, I had a built-in sprinkler system. Every day my sprinklers would pop up and throw a little bit of water on the lawn. I put less water on my lawn than my neighbor put on his. But my lawn was green and my neighbor’s lawn remained brown. Why? Because I watered every day.
The moral of the story is this: pop up and give each salesperson on your team a little dose of your coaching every day!” Salespeople don’t get better all at once, they get better a little bit every day. Don’t be a Rainbird coach.
To get more value out of every coaching session, download my Observation Checklist for Sales Managers. It’s a simple tool that will help you better evaluate each salesperson’s effectiveness. Utilize my sales coaching tool for teaching, coaching and – of course – follow-up!