Sales coaching is the management No. 1 activity that drives sales performance. The only problem is that managers have not been taught how to effectively coach. Coaching is a skill that takes time to perfect and unless effectively coached or trained managers can make all types of blunders.
Do You Want To Increase Sales Performance?
Transforming your managers from good to great coaches can have a dramatic impact on sales. The only problem is that managers have not been taught how to effectively coach. Coaching is a skill that takes time to perfect and unless effectively coached or trained managers make all types of blunders.
As the head of sales or as a frontline sales manager you can greatly enhance the performance of your sales team if you can develop great coaches.
Coaching Blunder #1 – “Telling vs. Asking Coaching”
As a sales manager you probably were a top sales rep. You may still see yourself as a problem-solver, like “If I solve this rep’s issue then she/he can make the sale.” As a result of your action orientation you are likely to tell the salesperson how to solve
the issue. “Telling” does not create self-managing salespeople. In fact, there are numerous downsides to the tell-first approach.
First, you are not empowering your sales reps, who may perceive you as being a micro manager. Second, you are also creating a dependency on you to be their problem-solver. This creates endless emails, phone calls and resulting in needy reps. And third, you are not developing them. One of the critical areas for development is the ability to be a self manager.
Be aware of when you are in “tell” mode and remind yourself, when you have fallen into a bad habit.
Coaching Blunder #2 – “I’ll get to it Coaching”
Time management is a challenge we all face. With emails, meetings and administrative work what is a sales manager to do? If sales results are what you desire then the easy answer is to do the activities that will drive the greatest revenue. Generally we do the busy work first as they are the easiest to. It feels good when we are up to date on our emails. The stress is reduced when we have all our reports in on time and we have followed up on all our messages.
But all those activities don’t contribute to the bottom line. If great sales coaching can have a direct impact of up to 19% more sales, why is coaching not the #1 priority?
Stop making excuses and get out of the office. Get out in the field and make coaching a priority. Your boss will thank you and your reps will make lots of money.
Coaching Blunder #3 “Laundry List Coaching”
Personal growth and change is a challenge for all of us. We all have strengths and areas for development. Mangers who decide who create a laundry list of areas for development will have little success. It is too difficult for sales rep to make wholesale changes in how they sell. Development is about working on improving 1 or 2 things and once the sales person has demonstrated that they have acquired the skill or behaviour then you can move on to the next area.
From a sales reps perspective imagine getting a field report listing all of the things you do wrong? Some reps would not even read the report. Many will read and wonder where I start. Others may read it and be completely overwhelmed.
Great coaching is about focus focus and focus. Helping a sales rep improve in one area of their job can have a major impact on their performance.
Coaching Blunder #4 “One Size Fits All Coaching”
One of the key pitfalls sales managers fall into is when the take the “one size fits all approach”.
How many times have we witnessed a sales rep working in auto pilot? This is the rep doing the same sales pitch to each customer and delivering the message in the same way. As coaches we fail to see when we go into auto pilot, taking the same approach with each rep.
Do you ever find yourself coaching all your reps the same way? Your feedback to each rep is the same? You have fallen into the rut of one size fits all coaching. Coaching differs from training. Training is about having everyone learn the same information or skills. Coaching on the other hand is about diagnosing each reps particular area for improvement. It is about adapting your coaching style to the individual and about developing individualised development plans.
Coaching is a one to one sport. It is about growing individuals to develop to their full potential.
Coaching Blunder #5 – “Way to go Coaching”
One of the key blunders managers make is not getting a commitment to change. They have done a perfect job coaching by asking all right questions, come to agreement on areas for development but forget to get buy in on how the problem will be fixed. When the manger and rep agree on an area for development it is critical to have the rep buy in to what steps they will take to develop.
This requires a simple 3 or 4 point plan which includes what the sales rep will do between coaching sessions. The key is to have the rep develop their own next steps and your role becomes one of holding them accountable. Without this in place the odds are that there will be no change in rep behaviour or skills on the next coaching session.
Great coaching means great performance. Sales organizations that embrace a coaching culture and invest in their front line managers’ ability to coach will have a competitive advantage and outsell the competition.