Ask yourself this question: Do you coach to your style or your sales reps style?
One of Sales Managers biggest coaching dilemmas isn’t when you coach or how you coach. It is making sure you do not enforce your sales style on your sales rep. I see sales managers coaching to the way they sell and to their style, not the way their individual sales rep sells. We found this leads to sales cycle length increasing over 40% because of some bad advice.
Why does this happen?
No sales process to coach to. No job aids to help the sales rep map to the buying process. No sales methodology adopted across the organization.
The result: Sales managers coaching to how they sell vs. the way the sales person sells. It’s undocumented, focused on art vs. science and it’s wrong.
To fully understand a personality coaching style, let’s look at an example that I witnessed two weeks ago at one of our customers:
George walked in the room and addressed his sales rep John. “John, let’s go through a deal you have working” as George started his coaching session. Everyone knew that I was in the room to observe the session so they were comfortable with me.
John pulls out his notes and they start to review the deal. From the start you could tell there was no followed sales process, let alone one that is mapped to a buying process. “John, where are you in this deal? What is the next step?” “Well George, I think we are close. I presented a proposal and am now waiting for the signed agreement,” John replied. Knowing the last time George rode in the field with John was 10 weeks ago, George started to ‘coach’. “John, are we really at this point in the sale? I remember when I was selling I never presented the agreement with the proposal.”
The coaching session went downhill from here. George proceeded to tell John how he would handle this account. All I heard was…”I would do this and I would do that”. It was apparent that George was not listening to what John was saying. He did not understand why John felt where he was in the deal. Instead, George was trying to ‘influence’ John on the way he would sell the deal. He made some critical mistakes:
- Not coaching to a sales process
- Using the art of sales vs. the science
- Influencing the sales rep by trying to insert himself in the deal
- It’s not his deal, its Johns!
- Trying to sell the deal without speaking with the customer
Find yourself doing the same things?
Practice these three simple steps to make sure you coach to a methodology not your own style:
- Coach to a Sales Process: Using the process (that is mapped to a buying process) is the foundation for good sales coaching. Ensuring you and the rep stick to this stage by stage program will enable you to clearly distinguish between process adherence and deal strategy. Remember, you hired this person for their ability to create value for the customers. Let them use their personality and style to be effective. Stick to the sales process for guidance.
- Note the difference between deal strategy and selling skills: Deal strategy is collaborating on an opportunity to advance the sale. Selling skills are positioning and negotiating questions that uncover implicit needs with a customer and strengthen compelling events. Don’t confuse the two when coaching. They are both equally important yet very different. When you mix the two together, you can put your own style into the coaching. This influences a sales rep to not use their own style resulting in mistakes made in front of the customer and lost sales.
- Check your ego at the door: Too often I find Sales Managers wanting to be the best sales person in the room. Why? They typically were the best sales person on the team that got promoted. They still have the ego that forces them to influence their style on their reps. World class managers understand they need to let their sales rep produce results following a common sales methodology. Sales reps need to use their personality/personal style while using this common sales methodology.
Catch yourself and refrain from coaching to your style. One of the best sales managers I have seen is Tony Valli. Being promoted to a sales manager after being a star rep, Tony has learned not to force his own style on his reps. Adhering to a defined sales methodology, he maximizes his reps productivity by embracing their own style while coaching to the sales process. He is excellent at it.
Make sure you coach to the sales process and sales methodology your company uses. Don’t have a sales process? Make sure you start with a process that maps itself to your customer’s buying process. Then coach to this process using deal strategy and selling skills to advance sales. This leads to the magic pot of gold: Shorter Sales Cycles, Improved Average Sales Price and Increased Win Rates.
Check out our free assessment to reduce sales cycles. Remember, it all starts with you.