Recent research has found that if you provide effective sales coaching to your team your revenue growth will be 17 percent higher than a sales manager who doesn’t coach salespeople effectively. This article provides five sales coaching tips that are easy to implement for achieving the sales growth you need in 2019.
Quickly assess your current situation
Whenever I meet with sales managers, I ask them to do a quick exercise where they grade each of their reps on two factors – skill and attitude. After we talk about the insights this gives them into what their reps need to improve on, I challenge them this way: This is a report card on your salespeople, right? … Wrong! …. It’s really a report card on YOUR sales coaching.
So if you determine from this quick exercise that the effectiveness of your sales coaching has room for improvement, here are five more easy to implement sales coaching tips to help get you started:
Stop being a “player”
When you join one of your salespeople in a customer meeting chances are not more than a few minutes go by before you jump in and take over for your salesperson. This sales management tendency to jump in and take over a customer meeting sends a message to the salesperson that you don’t have much confidence in their abilities. And, it sends a message to the customer that you are the person the customer should call on who can best answer their questions, which only serves to reduce the time you have for sales coaching.
There is an old Chinese proverb: “He who chases two rabbits at the same time never catches a rabbit.” Translation: you cannot sell and manage salespeople at the same time.
Resist the temptation to jump in and take over customer meetings, and instead, watch and evaluate your salespeople as they are selling. Good quality observation is where effective sales coaching begins.
Make more time to coach
I believe that the vast majority of sales managers have the ability within themselves to be a great teacher and coach to their salespeople. Trouble is, many sales managers allow this great competency to remain dormant inside of them. They get distracted by the burning issues of the day, and never seem to have enough time in the day to coach.
Every sales manager I know works from a “to-do list.” But the most successful sales managers I know also work from a “to-don’t” list. They know the things that they need to stop doing – those urgent distractions of the day that really don’t impact the long-term improvement of the team.
So, what is on your “To don’t list?” Make a list of the 10 things that you need to stop doing in 2019 so that you have more time to coach and develop your salespeople.
Coach early in the sales cycle
All too often we sales managers start paying attention to deals that are in the latter stages of a sales cycle. Most sales managers wait until the demo step, or after, before asking the salesperson thought-provoking questions about what was learned during the earlier phases of a sales opportunity.
If a salesperson isn’t effectively developing customer needs or influencing the customer’s application – there is nothing that sales manager can say or do at the 11th hour to change things. So any advice you impart to a salesperson late in a sales cycle has minimal, if any, impact on the probability of close. And because your feedback is too late, it’s likely to be seen by your salesperson as criticism, not coaching.
In 2019, pay more attention to what transpires between your salespeople and customers in the 1st and 2nd meetings. This sales coaching tip is to remember the popular saying, “well begun is half done.”
Make appointments for coaching
Early in my sales career I was fortunate enough to have a sales manager who set regularly scheduled 1-on-1 appointments with his salespeople to provide sales coaching. I recall one occasion when my manager sat with me at my desk to listen to my prospecting calls.
At the time, I had already established myself as one of the team’s top producers, and so many sales managers might have assumed that I was pretty good at prospecting. Not my boss.
After listening to several calls, he mentioned that I had deviated from the company’s prescribed approach in a way that, at least on that particular day, had diminished my ability to get more appointments. He coached me on the changes I should make and, voila! – the very next call I made I set an appointment with a high-value prospect. I was making a key mistake in my approach, but I didn’t know it. Until my boss coached me.
Many salespeople, especially experienced ones – won’t come to you to ask for coaching. So, you must take coaching to them. Here is sales coaching tip #5: make appointments to coach salespeople, especially those reps who don’t come to you to ask you for coaching.
For specific suggestions on how to develop a more standardized approach for effective sales coaching at your company, download my FREE whitepaper: “7 Keys to Building a Sales Coaching Culture.” https://toplineleadership.com/sales-coaching-resources/7-ways-to-drive-your-sales-coaching-culture/