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How to coach your salespeople into sales champions

8 minutes read

As a sales manager, I’m sure you understand the important role that coaching plays in developing your salespeople into sales champions. You must have also been providing consistent coaching for your team for many years now.

But right now you need to acknowledge– “What got you here today is not going to get you where you want to be tomorrow”.

Today’s world that’s hit by a pandemic is filled with unique sales challenges that your sales reps have never seen before. Various studies show that “76% of salespeople have missed their quota in the year 2020”

In such a scenario, you need to adopt new and creative approaches to coach your salespeople so as to prepare them to excel in the current sales environment.

So whether you are conducting face-to-face coaching or virtual coaching, the below coaching techniques will help you carry out effective sales coaching and create sales champions.

1. Become a world-class coach

The primary objective of coaching is to make your salespeople more valuable. But it all starts with you becoming a valuable coach.

Coaching in today’s time requires you to learn,

You need to receive formal training to inculcate all these qualities and skills.

Attend various certification programs (offered by your management or external sources) where you receive formal training for becoming a good and efficient coach. Also, encourage your senior management to hold short meet-ups every month where all the coaches can get together and discuss various coaching challenges and solutions.

2. Identify each person’s coaching needs in your team

In your sales team, you must be having A-level players, B-level players, and C-level players (top, bottom, and middle performers). Do all these people need to be coached in the same way? Absolutely not. Different people in a team have different coaching needs.

For example,

  • One person in your team might have difficulty in overcoming objections from the customers

  • Another one might need some help with cold calling

  • Some others might want to sharpen their messaging skills

As a sales manager, you need to identify these different coaching needs of your people by,

  • Analyzing each individual’s performance
  • Or directly asking them what they want to be coached on

This way you can customize your coaching to suit the learning needs of your team members.

3. WIIFM- What’s in it for me

People get inspiration to do something if they see a benefit in it for themselves (not for your benefit). So, set clear expectations with your reps. Communicate the benefits that they are going to receive through these coaching sessions.

You can convey that,

  • The reps would get to substantially improve their selling skills and sales performance

  • This would result in earning good sales incentives, promotions, appreciations, etc

  • Also, coaching sessions provide a safe environment for the sales reps to freely voice their concerns/ views with their sales managers and get them addressed

4. Don’t be the CPS (Chief problem solver)

Consider the scenario where one of your sales reps comes to you with a sales problem that she is facing. How would you help her?

From what we have seen, most sales managers tend to directly share the solution for the problem with the sales rep. They tend to instruct the sales rep on exactly what to do and how to do it.

But the problem with this approach is that,

  • It does not give an opportunity for your sales reps to think, innovate and come up with a solution

  • It increases their dependency on you. You don’t want your sales reps to knock at your door for every small issue they face, do you?

  • It halts their development as good sales professionals

In order to avoid these, you need to stop wearing the hat of a “Chief problem solver”.

Instead, wear the hat of a “Guider”. Direct your sales reps towards the right path and let them come up with the solution by themselves.

Here is how to do this:

  • Tell them that you trust their judgment and that you first want to hear what they think should be the solution to the problem
  • If their approach is right then acknowledge it and give them credit
  • If their approach is not correct, direct them in the right direction. Ask questions, give hints that lead them to the solution.

Providing a solution directly should be the last step that you take here.

This way you will be able to equip your sales reps with the knowledge of solving problems by themselves and empower them to be independent.

5. Top 3 Questions of Coaching

To make your coaching sessions effective and impactful, lead the coaching conversion with the following 3 questions

  • What is going on?

With this question, you can gather information about,

  • The current sales performance of the rep

  • Where does he stand with respect to his peers?

  • What tasks he has taken up?

  • What is the progress of those tasks?

  • Does he have any knowledge gaps/ skill gaps/areas of improvement?

  • Why is this happening?

If you identify any skill gap/performance gap, dig in deeper and try to understand the root cause of the issue

  • How can you create new possibilities?

Once you identify the gaps and the root causes behind them, collaborate with the sales rep and come up with new ideas, possibilities, and actions to move forward

6. Discuss both positives and negatives

In your coaching conversations with your sales reps, discuss both positive and negative aspects of their performance. If you focus the entire coaching conversation only on the areas of improvement of a rep then there is a chance that he might feel discouraged and disvalued.

So make sure that you first acknowledge the achievements of your sales reps and give them credit before moving on to discussing their shortcomings.

This gives them a sense of accomplishment and encourages them to work on their shortcomings and improve themselves.

Pro-tip: To avoid overwhelming the sales reps, limit the number of takeaways to not more than 3 in each coaching session.

7. Be flexible with your coaching schedule

With the current remote work environment, the line between our personal and professional lives is almost blurred. People are already struggling to strike a balance between their work and personal life. In such a scenario, you want to make sure that you aren’t holding the coaching sessions at an inconvenient time for your reps. Make sure that you have a word with them before scheduling the meeting. Decide on a time that works for both of you. This ensures that you and your coachees dedicate a fixed time towards coaching without any distractions

8. Hold your reps accountable for their progress

While the coaching sessions intend to empower your sales reps, it’s crucial that your sales reps take the responsibility of learning and improving their skills consistently. So hold them accountable for their progress. In each coaching session, follow up with them by discussing, - What has been agreed upon in the last coaching session? - How much has the rep implemented on it? This instills a sense of responsibility amongst them to take the coaching sessions seriously, learn from them and implement the suggested action before coming into the next session.

Pro-tip: To make the coaching sessions less intimidating for the reps, give them a chance to set the rules of the coaching. Ask them,

  • What type of reward or incentive would drive them to achieve even more?
  • How can you hold them accountable in a way that will sound supportive rather than negative?
  • How do they want you to approach them if they don’t follow through with the commitments they made? What would be a good way to bring it up?

This fills the sales reps with a feeling of being in control of their coaching.

9. Reward People who show progress

Give out incentives or goodies to the people who show significant progress in their performance with each coaching session. These help in motivating people to a great extent to learn and improve themselves consistently with each coaching session.

Final Words: Here is one final piece of advice from us: You don’t have to be great at coaching to start coaching. But you have to start coaching to be great at coaching.

So, adopt these new era coaching practices and start coaching to transform your sales reps into sales champions.

Learn how trainers can save time by incorporating automated AI role-plays into their sales training programs.

Read: SmartWinnr Neo AI | AI Powered Sales Coaching

Want to implement a coaching culture with an impact at your organization?

Creating a Sales Coaching Culture with Impact

Want to know how to switch between your roles as a manager and as a coach?

Coach or Manager? What does your team want?

Looking for a sales coaching template?

Sales Coaching Template for Managers

Check out our sales coaching playbooks

Sales Coaching Playbook Part 1 - Competency Framework

Sales Coaching PlayBook Part 2 - Training the Managers to Coach

Sales Coaching Playbook Part 3- How to Measure Success of Coaching

Want to know how to deliver an innovative coaching program in 2021?

Read: Delivering Innovative coaching programs in 2021

Published on Thu Mar 25 2021

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