As a sales leader, the most important responsibility you have to your salespeople is to support and encourage their growth and success. If they’re not successful and hitting their goals, neither will you, and I’m guessing that as a leader, you are keenly interested in both.
To have the most impact on your team’s success, you’ll want to add Sales coaching to your tool chest.
Here are a few tips on effective coaching:
Most coaching is done on a weekly basis or as often as needed and can be as short as five minutes. It’s the connection that counts.
To start, you need to establish trust with your people so that you can have quality conversations.
Next, you need to know their personality style to help you better communicate with them from their perspective. You will understand their strengths as a seller, and where they can use improvement – that’s where most of your coaching time will be spent.
As a leader, you need to be sure that your people view coaching as a positive experience and not a lecture or interrogation, so keep it nonjudgmental. Giving your opinion and thoughts should be saved for the conclusion of the session when the salesperson wants your thoughts. They need to look forward to it, or they will procrastinate and avoid it whenever possible. The conversation needs to be balanced and conversational. Getting your salespeople to listen, open up, and take action is the key. Again, they need to trust your insight and experience to be successful in their position.
There are four insights on sales coaching I’d like to share.
As I just mentioned the first one is their personality style. To be an effective communicator, you need to understand how each style wants to converse. You will find that Blues and Greens prefer to ask questions and gain your input, while Golds and Oranges prefer to do the talking. To lead a quality conversation, answer the Blues/Greens questions and ask more questions for the Golds/Oranges. You will also see that Golds/Oranges are more aggressive and fast-paced and freely give their opinion. Blues/Greens will be more passive and thoughtful in digesting what you’re saying, which means you might have to draw them out and solicit their thoughts. You will also see that Golds/Oranges are eager to achieve their goals. Even though everyone wants to achieve goals, you will see that Blues/Greens are keen to alleviate any obstacles in their way to achieving their goals. Again, Blues/Greens are not as aggressive in nature as Golds/Oranges. Take this into consideration when coaching your salespeople.
The 2nd insight is asking questions. Questions develop conversation. As I mentioned, you want to build conversation which means asking open-ended questions. Start a coaching session by asking something about their personal life to get them to relax and open up. You don’t want to ask pinpointed questions that sound like you’re interrogating. Since Blues/Greens need to open up more, as you move the conversation along, ask confirming questions which require a yes/no response to see if they are in agreement with what you’re saying. Ask questions that get them to think about the approach to their business. Ask “how” questions to see what their approach will be. Stay away from “why” questions that focus on the past and may come across as more interrogative.
The 3rd point might be surprising to you but it’s to be okay with your salespeople’s mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. I’ve learned more from losing sales opportunities than the ones I’ve won. It’s a great chance to coach your people on what they thought went wrong and how they can improve next time. Nobody wins all their sales opportunities. But when we lose one we thought we were going to win, it’s a great time to diagnose what we could have done differently that could have swayed the customer’s decision. It’s just like reviewing the films after a football game to see what could have been done better. Best practices in a coaching session on reviewing opportunities is to start out by asking, “What do you think went well, and then shift the conversation to, what would you do differently next time?” This will result in a robust, positive conversation for you and your salespeople.
The 4th point is motivation. You will see that just like everything else in life, you can’t tell people what to do. They need to be motivated “intrinsically.” They need to internalize and reflect on what they need to do or change. When I was a teenager, my mother always told me to stay away from junk food. I never listened to her until I motivated myself to make the change. It had to be when I was ready. Salespeople need to reflect on your coaching session and internalize what your advice means for their success. Everyone is motivated to achieve, but they need to see for themselves what the right path is based on who they are (their personality) and what they think is ‘their’ way to achieve those results.
Use coaching sessions to strengthen your relationship with each team member, and to provide the guidance and support needed to help them succeed and make their goals.
©2021 Stu Schlackman
Good luck with your relationship selling!