How to Use Sales Performance Coaching as Powerful Leverage
One of the most effective ways to improve sales performance is through skilled sales performance coaching. Based upon over 800 solution selling training measurement projects, sales coaching is the greatest point of leverage when it comes to raising the performance level of your sales team.
But it is surprising how few sales managers recognize the power behind good sales coaching and how few know how to do it well. With one good sales coach, an entire sales team can improve their skills and performance by a 4-to-1 margin.
If you are a sales leader or manager, you should be spending at least 25% of your time working one-on-one with your sales reps. Though you were probably promoted to manager because of your stellar performance as an individual contributor, now your responsibility is to achieve team goals. Your success is now dependent upon the success of others. Your objective as a sales leader is to build a better sales team. It is up to you to see that your sales reps are performing at their peak.
First you need to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your sales team. Measure them against a profile of the critical few sales skills, competencies and behaviors that you know work in your particular marketplace. Let’s assume you will deal with sales strategy as a team…looking at how to get new business, expand existing accounts, reach actual buyers, and deal effectively with the competition. The one-on-one coaching should, instead, focus on building the more tactical solution selling skills that lead to success.
Your sales coaching methods should not be the same for every rep. Some will need more hands-on guidance than others. Tune into the readiness levels to learn of each of your team members. Where there is a lack of proficiency, your coaching is needed. Where a sales rep’s performance is high, your interest and praise is appreciated but over-involvement in their sales process would be a waste of your time and theirs. In other words, spend your sales coaching time where it’s needed most.
Take your lower and average sales performers aside and plan together what sales skills you will focus on. Choose a few learning objectives for each sales rep. The more you can tailor your approach to the individual learner in terms of their preferred working and communication style, the better your message will reach them. Create an individual sales development plan which could include targeted sales training, role playing and practice on the job. Accompany the rep on sales calls to observe their behavior vis-à-vis the skills you are trying to develop. Then debrief together.
Your post-sales call discussions should be balanced in terms of what went well and what could be improved. They should occur as soon as possible after the sales call to take advantage of the power of experiential learning. Often the sales rep can critique their own performance pretty accurately. Work together to identify behaviors that need refinement. And then set up opportunities to practice.
Follow up to see that the new behaviors are becoming a part of the rep’s sales process. Reinforce the desired behavior and praise the effort toward improvement. Slowly but surely, your sales coaching will show the results you seek…a higher performing sales team and a higher stream of revenue.