3 Essential Elements of Sales Coaching Excellence
Coaching is the universal language of change and learning. If you’ve ever had a great coach in your life, you know that a great coach can inspire you, motivate you, and guide you towards reaching your full potential.
Coaching is one of the most important levers front-line sales managers can use to drive sales performance. According to research conducted by the Sales Executive Council, coaching can improve performance by as much as 19%.
Yet despite the benefits that coaching brings, many sales managers aren’t coaching their sales people. Managers claim they are too busy and simply don’t have the time. What’s worse, is that out of those managers who are making the time, many aren’t actually coaching. They may believe they’re having coaching conversations, when in reality they’re having nothing more than a discussion around a performance management issue.
So, what are the essential elements needed for sales coaching excellence?
1. Build a Relationship Based on Trust
Do your sales reps trust you? Trust is an absolute must for coaching to be effective.
During a coaching conversation, your sales rep is in a vulnerable place. They need to feel comfortable discussing their weaknesses with you. They need to feel comfortable talking about that mistake they made on the last sales call. In order to reach the desired future state, your sales rep needs to be comfortable discussing their current state.
You need to know how far your sales rep needs to go, how far they want to go, and how far they are able to go on their own. You’ll never be able to determine this without first building a foundation of trust.
2. Have a Clear Picture of Sales Excellence
Early on in my sales career, I worked for an individual who tried to mold me into the type of salesperson that he was. He would say things like… “That’s not the way to do it. Watch the way I do it.” I never felt good after those conversations. I felt like he was trying to turn me into his clone.
Each salesperson has their own unique style and their own unique approach. Quite too often, sales managers compare their sales reps to an ideal version of themselves. Instead, sales managers need to have a clear picture of what sales excellence looks like, in terms of the observable behaviors that sales reps should be demonstrating in the field.
3. Ask…Don’t Tell
We live in a results-driven world, and sales managers become conditioned to a results-oriented, problem solving mindset. Many sales managers live by the motto, “If there’s a problem, I will find the solution!” Unfortunately, fixing the problem or providing the solution is counterproductive when it comes to coaching and developing your sales reps.
Coaching is not telling, doing, or showing your sales reps what to do. Coaching is about guiding the process of self-discovery to create awareness and accountability. If you want to create a sense of responsibility and instill confidence in your sales reps, then you need to focus more on asking questions rather than telling your rep what to do. Good questioning skills are at the heart of effective coaching.
Coaching focuses on future potential, not past mistakes. Make a commitment to spend time coaching your reps on a daily basis.
If you’re skeptical, you may be thinking…what if I spend all this time coaching my salespeople and they leave to go join the competitor? Well, what happens if you don’t coach them and they stay?
Through effective coaching, you can make sure your salespeople are doing the right things…in the right way…with the right customers.
Matt Hallett is a partner and founding member of the Global Growth Group. Based in the USA, Matt works with companies across a variety of different industries helping them accelerate sales performance.
Global Growth Group is an international network of training, consulting and coaching companies helping clients to grow their business and to increase their competitiveness locally and all over the world.