This is the first problem to solve. Let’s assume you have your time allocation at best in class levels. How do you monetize your coaching time? There are 3 critical coaching activities that separate average from great allowing ‘A’ player sales leaders to generate an ROI on every field interaction.
Average – Nothing is worse than a sales leader showing up for a day in the field and says “what are we working on today”? As a sales leader, you have on average, 6 to 8 direct reports. On a % basis, each of them is responsible for 10%-20% of your success. Why would you put yourself in this position? More importantly, why would you short change them? People leave bosses, not companies. Each time you show up unprepared to coach, you are moving your reps closer and closer to calling a headhunter back.
Great – You review three things:
- Last day in the field with the sales rep – What went well, what didn’t, where were the gaps? You are building a continuum of learning with your team and it is impossible if you don’t focus your coaching efforts on building skills in a serialized fashion.
- Pipeline – You know it will come up and you need to be able to speak intelligently about it. What trends do you see that you can help coach while in the field? Maybe they have late stage deals falling out of the pipeline? Perhaps they are struggling to sell the new product? Maybe they have pricing pressure in every deal because they are moving too fast and not building value?
- Individual Development Plan/Career Action Plan – What are the long term items the rep should be doing and how are they progressing. Over lunch, inquire as to strides that are made/obstacles that they have. Most employees think development plans are a joke; not because of what you put in them, but because you never follow up and check for completion. I know you are laughing right now because you have either worked for a boss like this or you are a boss like this. You control being the latter.
Average – You tell your team what to do on sales calls, but you are unwilling to demonstrate it in a live customer setting. You either can’t sell or you don’t want to show vulnerability in front of your reps. If you have either one of these challenges, your sales coaching will never reach ‘A’ status.
Great – You demonstrate exactly how each step of your sales process can be executed in a live setting. As one of my bosses told me about ten years ago, “nothing beats putting on your cleats and running the play the right way so your team sees the standard”. Introduce a new sales tool or job aid? Demo it with each rep. Before you watch them do it, you need to show them how to do it.
Average – You give the same feedback to every rep in the same manner sounding like a broken record and you don’t focus on incremental improvement.
Great – You take into account tenure with company, time in sales, background, personal learning styles and each rep’s goals. Some crave public recognition, some crave customized 1:1 feedback, some want money, others independence while others want promotion. Secondly, great sales leaders focus on making small incremental gains. Literally, giving a rep 1 thing to work on between call 1 and call 2 as a way to create an environment of continuous improvement and deep focus.
To allow this list to be impactful, free yourself of excuses as to why you are not doing these. Most importantly,if you are looking for some more tips for sales coaching, download our competency assessment which breaks down the behaviors of some of the best sales coaches we have witnessed.
What other tactics have you seen deployed by great sales coaches? Share them with us.