In my previous post, I shared two metrics (quantity and quality) that could be used to provide insight into the effectiveness of your sales management team. This led to the obvious question: How does one improve coaching capabilities that results in sustainable improvements? Quantity is an easy one to fix. Quality… now that can be difficult to pull off. It’s easy to change behavior temporarily. How do you drive sustainable action? As soon as deadlines approach, and the s_ _ _ hits the fan, all bets are off — all progress is forgotten.
I recently re-visited Solution Selling by Michael Bosworth to back up some hunches I had on this topic. Sales techniques, when viewed from a different perspective, can be used to improve the quality of the sales coaching relationship between the manager and the rep. Employ successful sales techniques that we use to improve the typical sales call. Why can’t you use these same techniques in developing better coaching outcomes? We can.
Example Concept: Picture a three by three matrix as a way to structure a set of questions that help you participate in the buyers vision. Once buyers have acknowledged their pain, asking this set of questions will help lead the customer in creating workable solutions. If you simply apply this same construct in the coaching discussion, you would ask a set of questions that would help you participate in the reps vision. The purpose is to guide the rep in creating solutions that will improve performance. Your management style must engage the reps. Without engagement in coaching you will encounter the same poor results when your selling style does not engage the customer……nothing!
To put this in context, imagine that you are preparing for a coaching discussion with a sales rep who is missing their annual target. You know that they are not meeting their weekly activity goals in terms of the number of appointments or phone calls. To solve this problem, you need to “sell” them on implementing a more structured time management process.
The following diagram shows the sequence of questions that can lead to a potential solution. To begin, follow the nine-box system by asking open, control and confirm questions in three sets:
- Identify the “reasons” the problem is occurring
- Determine the potential “impact” on their future in sales
- Help them determine their “capability” in solving the problem.
It is easy to forget that coaching discussions are sales calls with the intent to sell ideas that lead to improved performance. If you are struggling to improve the quality of your sales coaching, adapt to leverage sales techniques you already know and use with customers. By adopting this new perspective, you will improve the quality of your coaching sessions.
Please share any sales techniques that you have used to improve the quality of your coaching. Looking for additional ways to improve your salesforce? Give the following complimentory e-book a read to discover some additional practices: