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,
The leadership qualities
The Leadership language.
The right attitude and approach to have while coaching
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.
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
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.
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.
7. Be flexible with your coaching scheduleWith 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 progressWhile 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.
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.
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Published on Thu Mar 25 2021