In my prior post, I introduced three myths about sales coaching. Let’s continue the story, and look at some best practices for handling these sales coaching myths.
- Create a Safe Environment. A critical moment in one’s biggest account is not the best time to experiment! Coaches should help their sales people select safe situations in which to practice new ideas and, on tough occasions, help provide an “escape route.” For example, a sales manager might go along on the call to provide a safety net in case something doesn’t go as anticipated.
- Walk Before You Run. “Baptism by fire” is not really a best practice for managing performance change. Top sales coaches help their people develop realistic assessments of their existing skill levels and then help them plan a series of escalating steps toward the final performance goal. At the same time, they also up the ante by raising the bar as the learning process continues.
- Re-institute the Pat on the Back. Confident people are more likely to bridge the fear of failure chasm. Sales managers can help by making it clear that it’s okay to “fall off the horse” – everybody does who tries new things. The sales coach can and should help build confidence during the coaching experience by pointing to past successes of the individual and providing positive reinforcement for achieving interim milestones.
In closing, let’s take a quick look back at a point made in an early post. The one thing sales managers do not have now, or never will have, is a lot of spare time. So, if sales coaching is to happen, this time issue must be wrestled to the ground. Though there is no magic solution to the time problem in any large company, there are a few helpful ideas to keep in mind.
One reason some sales managers never have enough time for coaching is because they take on too much of the responsibility of coaching. If managers view their role as catalysts rather than doers of all things, they will engage others who are willing and able to help. Top sales coaches believe coaching is an ongoing process vs. an event. Sometimes they take the lead, sometimes they leverage others who can help, and they always help those being coached learn how to learn for themselves.
Are there other sales coaching best practice which we should explore?
Check out other posts on sales coaching at the Sales Training Connection.
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