The Value of Sales Coaching

by | Nov 3, 2020 | Relationship Selling

Coaching your sales team has definite rewards. According to the Center for Sales Strategy as many as 60% of sales reps say they’re more likely to leave their job if their manager is a poor coach. And if you’re wondering how much time to spend with them, research also shows that reps with 30 minutes or less of sales coaching per week receive win rates of 43%, and those that receive at least 2 hours of coaching per week, have a win rate of 56%. I think we all agree that a higher win rate is the goal!

Let’s assume that you’re reading, willing and able to coach them, so what’s next?

As you prepare to coach one of your salespeople, you’ll begin by thinking about the questions you want to ask. You know that part of the conversation could be challenging because there are some skills where they need to improve. How do you start the conversation?

Remember that sellers typically have a lot of pride in what they do. They are competitive by nature and winning is important. Even more perhaps, they hate to lose.

As you prepare, consider today’s environment, when there is a good chance that your meeting will be virtual because of the pandemic. So, the spontaneous coaching meetings that you’ve had in the past are less likely. Back ‘then’ it was easy to have a quick five-minute session in real-time when one of your salespeople had a quick question or dilemma.

I think live meetings have more impact than virtual just because in person is three-dimensional. It makes it easier to read body language and interpret their eye contact and gestures. Virtual meetings just don’t seem to connect both parties emotionally as does face to face.

But the good news is that you can be more thorough and strategic in a virtual meeting. You have more opportunity to write your questions out and take notes, which can be a benefit in your coaching session.

To begin the sales coaching conversation, start on a positive note with what’s working well. Commend the salesperson for their achievements before moving on to the areas where they need improvement. With this approach, they will be more receptive since you both have the same goal – success!

Below are a few questions you might consider to get you started:

  • What do you think the real challenges you’re facing related to _____?
  • Why do you think that is?
  • What are your thoughts on how to improve?
  • What are your goals in the long-term?
  • What’s your plan to achieve them?
  • Out of curiosity, how would you plan to go about_______?
  • Was this helpful?
  • How else can I support you?
  • What is your most pressing need here?

These coaching questions are more strategic and long-term in nature. They have more impact during a challenging conversation as compared with the typically more tactical questions asked about their forecast and specific sales activities.

Whether virtual or live, understanding the personality style of your team members is critical. You have four very distinct personalities that have different values, needs and communication styles. Therefore, your approach needs to vary for each style.

  • Your people with high-Blue personalities are the most visual, making them more adept at reading body language and eye contact. They more than others prefer being face to face. Also, Blues are sensitive to conflict, so help them open up by letting them share their viewpoints. Pressuring a Blue will never lead to a positive result. Instead, show empathy.
  • Your high-Gold personalities can do virtual or live. With Your Golds set a formal coaching agenda. You can be more direct with your Golds. Discuss the issues, create the plan, set timeframes and milestones for them. Golds are disciplined and structured by nature and will appreciate you being proactive with their business issues.
  • Your high-Green personalities will appreciate virtual for the convenience. Greens take pride in their expertise so commend them on their knowledge and innovative approaches. Greens can be skeptical and will ask a lot of questions. Welcome their curiosity.
  • Your high-Orange personalities also prefer live being a right brain person like the Blues. Oranges can challenge you if they disagree with plans to improve. Oranges are optimistic by nature but sometimes lack on their follow through. Thinks of ways of incentivizing them to adapt to new approaches to their business. Since they’re competitive, create a challenge with meaningful motivators.

Coaching is the most critical responsibility for the sales leader to improve team performance. Know your people, their preferences and most of all, focus on their strengths.

Good luck with your relationship selling!

©2020 Stu Schlackman