Sales coaching – everybody knows it’s important but many are still struggling to get it right. So, we are always looking for thoughtful ideas that might be of help for moving the ball down the field.
Recently we came across an article in Inc Magazine by Geoffrey James that discussed a number of interesting points – we thought three were of particular merit.
- Obtaining the sales rep’s perception. Some sales managers just skip over this step in coaching altogether. Others ask questions about the sales rep’s perception of the performance but then go on to talk about what they were planning to say in the first place.
These sales managers forget that just like in good sales calls, it’s better to ask, listen, and then talk. If this structure is followed in coaching, it allows the sales manager to know the rep’s opinion of their performance, know if the rep has any major misperception, and know how to frame and position their feedback.
- Assuming you’re in agreement. Just because a sales rep and a sales manager are talking about a sales rep’s performance it doesn’t mean they are developing a shared vision of the conversation. We’ve all been in conversations where we thought the bottom line of the conversation was very clear to both parties – only to find out later that was not to be the case. So, as the sales coaching session comes to a close make sure you ensure that you’re both on the same page before you move on to actioning the ideas.
- Identifying obstacles to executing what’s been agreed upon. Just generating ideas for improving performance doesn’t guarantee that performance will improve. Good ideas are only a first step. Once solutions are identified, the sales rep and sales manager must jointly create a plan of action for implementing the ideas that is practical and takes into account the likely obstacles that will be encountered.
In the years ahead it is likely that sales excellence will become an increasingly important piece of the puzzle for increasing revenue and maximizing profitability. We would suggest that’s it is an extremely bad bet if you assume you can continue to field a superior sales force and yet neglect the importance of coaching. So trying a little harder to get it right is probably worth the effort.
Some other blog posts on sales coaching are:
- Sales managers … don’t forget about trust
- Sales coaching feedback – don’t forget the positive
- Dispatching sales coaching myths and best practices
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