The data is in. Sales Coaching is hot and the reason is the ROI that companies realize is significant, 24-40% increase in sales activity, leads generated, average deal size, and close ratios. All great athletes and many business leaders have recognized the value of having a coach. People like Marc Benioff from Salesforce.com, whose company recently joined Fortune’s Top 50, has had a coach from the very beginning when he was formalizing his vision. Sales Coaching is different than business coaching, it focuses on sales situations, opportunity driven, and requires a coach with sales experience. It is a process of maximizing sales performance in the short and long term by executing a playbook, holding regular one-on-one conversations over a sustained period of time, and makes change systematic and best behaviors automatic.
The question is why aren’t more sales managers effective at coaching their sales people? There was a group discussion on LinkedIn about what makes a great sales manager. So far, there are over 200 posts and everyone has a different view. Mostly focused on soft skills than hard ones. To me, a sales manager or executive’s job is to define the vision, mission, goals, strategies, and the recognition programs that inspire and motivate sales people to be the best version of themselves. Leverage their strengths, stretch their areas of development, collaborate to create synergistic results, and stay focused on their personal and professional goals. Most sales managers are focused on metrics and perhaps measuring the wrong elements. For example, I was coaching a sales team in a company that provides work space furniture for corporate clients. We created a program where they were incented to schedule showroom tours vs. sales appointments. I trained them on how to optimize the tour, the questions to ask, how to listen, and how to mirror and match the potential clients energy, speech, tone, and body language. As a result, sales increased 200% in two months!
Successful Sales Coaches play 5 key roles.
1. Define: Help sellers identify both their goals and a path to their own personal New Reality, the personal state they most desire. Different salespeople are motivated by different factors.
2. Execute: Help sellers build and execute action plans, optimizing efficiency, effectiveness, and focus. Good coaches know the psychology behind developing habits. After defining the goals and setting a path, the coach will help his coachee develop habits, automatic behaviors that increase the seller’s success.
3. Advise: Coaches give direct advice as appropriate to maximize quick wins. In a live sales situation a hands-off approach may mean losing an opportunity. A good coach knows when to give direct advice and when to enable the coachee to problem solve on their own.
4. Develop: Coaches develop a coachee’s knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attributes to improve performance. Coaching must include advice on how to close specific opportunities, as well as, focus on helping the salesperson improve their capabilities over time.
5. Motivate: Coaches inspire sellers to find and sustain their highest level of energy and action over the long term. By challenging the salesperson and encouraging them to take ownership of their success, a successful sales coach can create an obvious connection between actions and goals that will inspire the coachee to be the best they can be.
These five roles in the coaching process combined with a regular rhythm and frequency to the coaching process, employing specific strategies to inspire top performance, and leading masterful coaching conversations is what creates a platform for salespeople to operate at their best and become superstars!
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