Getting sales coaching right – a picture is worth 1000 words

info_7-Effective-Sales1Sales coaching is an important topic among sales leaders. However, ask any sales managers about how they spend their time and you’ll hear about all sorts of things from “putting out fires” to “helping their sales team sell” to “getting those reports to corporate.”

When you ask about sales coaching, you will resoundingly hear how important it is.  However if you turn up the listening volume, you will also hear about how and why there is just not enough time to do it.

Much has been written about sales coaching – what works and what doesn’t. We’ve written our fair share of sales coaching blogs, too. Recently we came across an infographic that caught our eye – 7 Effective Sales Coaching Best Practices. We thought it provided some sound guidance in a memorable format for sales managers that are trying to get it right.

Take a look and see what you think?


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©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC



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Isolating the swing factors for making big-ticket sales training investments

Sales training investments

Sales training investments

While sales training programs aren’t multi-billion dollar investments, we think some of the points the McKinsey & Co principals shared around considerations in making multi-billion dollar purchasing decisions have implications for sales training investments – whether in the millions or the tens of thousands.

To ascertain what it takes to prepare to make high-stake decisions, McKinsey staff interviewed executives in multiple industries. The result is a belief that the good practices their interviewees’ used when making decisions can be widely applied.  Let’s take a look and translate the results to sales training investments

Focus on the swing factors.  The more complex the project, the more uncertainties affect the cost and the payoffs of the investment.  However, when all is said and done, they found that only a handful of factors really impact success.   It’s those few … the swing factors that require focus and consideration.

What might this mean for sales training purchasing decisions?

Assuming you’ve done the requisite screening and you’re looking at a high-quality, highly customized sales training, the sales training program itself is unlikely to be a swing factor.  More importantly nor will the cost – that is you can pay more and get less.

But there are considerations that are likely to be swing factors – for example: senior management involvement, what you do before the program to position it and what you do after it to reinforce the skills learned in the program.  In addition:

  • Recognize swing factors are not static. During the planning, implementation and post-sales training program, new swing factors are likely to emerge.  For example, during the planning, senior management could launch a new sales initiative that is all about moving from selling individual products to selling an integrated solution.  The swing factor is the ability to address the nature of the program to be responsive to emerging shifts.
  • Be able to better assess risk and payoff.   If you use both quantitative and qualitative data to assess the value and risk of the project one is likely to end up with a more comprehensive picture.  As the McKinsey authors noted – restricting to one or the other can miss key points. This is certainly true with sales training.  For example, two qualitative factors often underemphasized that can impact the project are: the degree to which you can get the sales team committed to the project and the degree to which you can sustain an effective and efficient front-line sales manager sales coaching effort post program.
  • Keep decision biases in check. Everyone has biases (knowingly or not) when making decisions. Being aware is the first step. Putting processes in place to minimize bias creeping into the decision is the second.   Like any field the biases in sales training are highly specific to the company making the decision and to the individual decision makers.  However, there are a couple that tend to pop up more often than some others.

For example, senior managers going with a training company or even a specific program because they went through it when they were a rep so even though it is now 20 years later they suggest the same program.  A second bias is related to the failure to consider new technology-based methodologies like online sales training or software based coaching program because they are “new or “hard to implement.”

In the last five years a lot of exciting things have been happening in sales training  – the options and alternatives are significantly greater and more interesting.  But in the end, it is always about how do you decide to decide.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC



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Medical Sales – Blog Round-up – Summer 2014

medical device sales training

Medical Sales

If you missed some of our medical sales and medical device blog posts, here’s a chance to look at some of our most popular posts  – in the Medical Sales – Blog Round-up.

The 4 blogs are:

  • Medical sales – grabbing physician attention
  • MedTech sales: when customers change – so must you
  • Pharma – new challenge, new sales strategy, new sales training
  • MedTech sales – past success doesn’t guarantee future wins

Click here to take a read.

You’ll also find links to our free white papers, ebooks, and mobile app that you might have missed:

If you find the Medical Sales – Blog Round-up helpful, why not subscribe to the Sales Training Connection?

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4 best practices for mentoring new sales reps – An STC Classic

A Classic - '63 Corvette

A Classic – ’63 Corvette

Mentoring new sales reps is a technique many companies use to “jump start” new sales reps. It’s a logical approach providing new sales reps with an opportunity to work with someone besides their sales manager to learn about the customer base, product portfolios, marshaling internal resources, etc.

Sometimes companies put in place formal sales rep mentoring programs.  In those situations, mentors are given training as to what mentoring is, how to be an effective mentor, roles and responsibilities, feedback techniques, and so forth.  Many companies consider the mentoring program as part of a “pre-management” development effort for the sales reps serving as mentors.

In other cases the mentoring effort is less formal.  Regardless, 4 best practices around sales mentoring that are worth highlighting:

4 best practices for sales mentoring

  • Position the mentoring program. Make sure everyone on the sales team knows mentoring is going to happen, why, and what’s it all about. This is the first step in laying the groundwork for a successful sales mentoring effort. Not only does this let everyone on the sales team know that mentoring is happening; it builds initial support.

As a part of this initiate positioning, sales managers should reinforce the message that mentoring is worthwhile.  If a sales manager has had other sales people on their team who have had a positive mentoring experience … sharing those experiences provides a powerful message.

  • Set expectations. Setting expectations includeswhat the sales person will get out of the mentoring process and what their responsibilities will be.  Time should also be devoted to helping the mentor understand their role and responsibilities.  Discussions should also occur between the sales person being mentored, the mentor, and the sales manager – summarizing roles and responsibilities, procedures, expectations and surfacing any concerns those participating in the mentor process might have..
  • Develop a plan. The biggest trap in implementing a mentoring process is that it that it turns into a  ‘just follow me around and watch what I do” exercise.

The sales person and mentor should work out a plan that will enable the sales person to meet the goals that were developed as a result of initial expectation setting.

As a part of this planning the mentor should assess the capability of the sales person they’re working with – level of sales skills, product knowledge, industry knowledge, etc.  This assessment will help the mentor determine the missing pieces that need “filling in” to meet sales person and sales manager expectations for the mentoring process.

  • Don’t forget closure. The relationship between the mentor and the sales person should not go on forever, the formal mentoring process isn’t open-ended. Closure is a planned ending to the mentoring relationship. It’s more than lunch or dinner.  It’s an opportunity for all parties – the sales person, mentor, and sales manager – to celebrate their success as well as to reflect on what they’ve learned through the process and what changes can be made to improve the mentoring process.

If some basic structure and planning are provided, mentoring can be a valuable part of a company’s developmental efforts.  Mentoring should not, however, be viewed as a substitute for coaching or for formal training. Mentoring, coaching, and sales training are all viable processes to help sales rep get up to speed and maintain a high level of competency.  It all works best when thought is given to how each piece can contribute to building a superior sales team.

Training new sales reps and getting them up to speed quickly is critical to the success of a sales team. Some additional blog posts on this topic include:

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Motivating salespeople – lessons from West Point

Lessons from West Point for motivating salespeople

Lessons from West Point for motivating salespeople

What can 11,320 cadets entering nine West Point classes tell salespeople about motivation?  As it turns out – maybe a lot according to a recent study.

As reported in a New York Times article, upon entering the cadets rated how much a set of motives influenced their decisions to attend the academy.  Two types of motives were studied.  For example, motives included a desire to get a good job later in life – considered to be an instrumental motive because the relationship was indirect – and a desire to be trained as a leader in the U.S. Army – an internal motive since there was an inherent relationship between the decision and the end result.

What’s interesting to us is how the cadets fared after graduating. As the study authors (Amy Wrzesniewski and Barry Schwartz) report:

“The stronger their internal motives were to attend West Point, the more likely cadets were to graduate and become commissioned officers. Also unsurprisingly, cadets with internal motives did better in the military (as evidenced by early promotion recommendations) than did those without internal motives and were also more likely to stay in the military after their five years of mandatory service – unless (and this is the surprising part) they also had strong instrumental motives.

They went on to share:

“Remarkably, cadets with strong internal and strong instrumental motives for attending West Point performed worse on every measure than did those with strong internal motives but weak instrumental ones. They were less likely to graduate, less outstanding as military officers and less committed to staying in the military.”

The authors believe the implication of these findings is significant:

“Whenever a person performs a task well, there are typically both internal and instrumental consequences. A conscientious student learns (internal) and gets good grades (instrumental). A skilled doctor cures patients (internal) and makes a good living (instrumental). But just because activities can have both internal and instrumental consequences does not mean that the people who thrive in these activities have both internal and instrumental motives.

And here’s where the implications for salespeople comes in:

“Our study suggests that efforts should be made to structure activities so that instrumental consequences do not become motives. Helping people focus on the meaning and impact of their work, rather than on, say, the financial returns is the best way to improve not only the quality of their work but also — counterintuitive though it may seem — their financial success.”

All of us in Sales, regardless what we do, have a propensity to focus on whatever it takes to get salespeople motivated – whether internal or instrumental motives.

The authors conclude:

“Rendering an activity more attractive by emphasizing both internal and instrumental motives is completely understandable, but it may have the unintended effect of weakening the internal motives so essential to success.”

What do you think? What are the implications for how we train, manage and coach, and compensate salespeople?

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Our most popular sales blog posts …

Curious as to which sales blog posts have been most popular? So were we! We’ve compiled them for you into the Summer 2014 edition of the Best of the Sales Training Connection. Take a look …

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Sales strategy – stop, pause, reassess

Sales Strategy - Stop, Pause, Reassess

Sales Strategy – Stop, Pause, Reassess

Last week, I was talking with a sales manager who shared an interesting story about sales strategy reviews. She had just finished conducting sales strategy reviews for the top 20 accounts in her geography. Her observation was interesting – “Let’s not talk about the quality of the sales strategy reviews – some were great and some left much to be desired. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was how the sales reps executed their sales strategies.”

I wasn’t quite sure what she meant – and asked her to tell me more. That’s where it got interesting. She said that during some of the strategy review sessions it felt like some sales reps just kept pounding a hammer on the pegs, like that old, familiar child’s toy. “In other words, she said, the sales reps kept continuing pursing their sales strategy – whether it fit or not – like a hammer pounding down on pegs. They never stopped, paused, and reassessed.”

Download free white paper – Getting Sales Strategy Right in Major Accounts

That got us thinking. How often do sales managers sit through strategy review sessions like these? Our guess is way too often! Yet, it’s so important salespeople take the time – especially in larger accounts – to stop, pause, and reassess. Not only will it ensure that salespeople don’t continue pursuing the wrong account strategy – it also provides the opportunity to modify their sales strategy … increasing the probability of closing a sale since the modified sales strategy should be a far better fit.

In addition it provides the opportunity to consider the fundamental point that this may just be a chase after a bad piece of business.

What advice should sales managers share with their sales teams, especially during those strategy review sessions?

The pauses don’t have to be very long. In fact, it’s very likely that if you pause for a few hours or even a day or two, it’s likely that after you modify your sales strategy and reengage with the account, very little may would have occurred – except that you have a clearer vision of what you want to do.

Regardless of your sales strategy, navigating an account is never a straight line. Successful salespeople craft a sales strategy and then periodically pause and reassess – modifying as need be.


What to learn more about sales strategy? Download our white paper - Getting Sales Strategy Right in Major Accounts.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Happy Fourth of July!

Wishing all of our readers and happy holiday!

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Reinventing the sales conversation with the hospital c-suite

Selling to the Hospital c-Suite

Selling to the Hospital c-Suite

Hospitals are undergoing unprecedented changes. As hospitals determine the best strategic path forward – standing still is not an option. Among market leaders the journey of change has already begun and will continue as the future unfolds.

One factor affecting the strategic paths hospitals choose is that all decisions including those relate to quality, patient care, and technology will be viewed through a financial lens. Hospitals are facing significant financial pressures from reimbursement reductions. so executives are aggressively seeking innovative and creative approaches from their suppliers for increasing patient care while simultaneously reducing cost.

It’s more important than ever for MedTech salespeople have an effective strategy for selling at the senior executive level in hospitals. But a warning … you don’t have many opportunities to get it right and if you get it wrong the first time, you probably won’t have a second shot.

Selling to the Hospital c-Suite

Selling to the c-suite isn’t a new idea, but it’s becoming increasingly important and it is getting increasingly difficult to gain their attention. They’re busy with internal and external demands, yet they are seeking new ideas and insights that will help set them apart from their competitors.

So what can MedTech salespeople do? According to the C-Suite Project, all salespeople – regardless of industry – should consider three areas when interacting with the c-suite: content context, and conversation when focusing on the c-suite:

  • Content. For the c-level, content is everything. They expect the content to be customized to them, delivered in a straightforward and actionable way. What they are not interested in is in-depth discussions about products. The expectation is that the salesperson can bring fresh ideas – new perspectives on how to reframe their problems and creative points of view about how to solve them.
  • Context. Meetings with the c-suite should be short and personalized – tailored to their interests, challenges and opportunities – so the discussion engages them professionally and personally.
  • Conversation. We’ve said this before – the best sales calls are conversations. Nowhere is this truer then when selling to the c-suite. It is all about talking with them – not at them.

To jump-start your conversations with the hospital c-suite, the American Hospital Association survey of 1100 executives (95% of whom were CEOs). They shared their top 7 strategic priorities in the hospital c-suite. Becker Hospital Review summarized them in a great infographic – take a look.


Want to learn more about MedTech sales strategies? Download our white paper - Getting MedTech Sales Strategy Right.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Get ready for your next new product launch

gI_77197_Book-cover-jpeg-230-300Don’t Let Your Next Product Launch Fail - a Sales Momentum white paper – is now also available on Kindle and in iTunes formats. It contains industry best practices to help your sales team be more effective selling new products.

We all know, companies market a dazzling array of new products annually. They run the gamut from innovative new offerings to major and minor upgrades of existing products.

Yet, regardless of whether it’s a simple upgrade or a “bet the company” new product, the product launch too often looks more like an escape plan than a well-devised plan to develop market superiority. Many new product launches fail to deliver the expected results because the investment in improving the sales team’s ability to sell the new product is inadequate.

Launching new products – sales force role

When new product sales disappoint, some may blame the market or say that it just takes time. Look more closely and you may find that not preparing your sales force is the missing link. Specifically:

1.    Sales skill development is rarely conducted and reinforced properly so new product training doesn’t “stick”.
2.    Sales managers don’t properly coach sales reps to sell the new product.
3.    Sales reps experience difficulty selling the new product and go back to selling what they know.

We wrote Don’t Let Your Next Product Launch Fail to address some of these issues.  To find out more and to download the white paper (in pdf, iTunes, or Kindle formats), visit

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

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