When asked about whether they provide sales coaching, sales managers will often explain they don't have the time to do so. This is true, even when salespeople want more coaching to increase their sales effectiveness. The sales manager would also benefit from having a sales force that wins more deals.
There is a simple way to provide your sales force with sales coaching without adding an additional hour to your already busy days. This is a powerful sales coaching strategy, as it provides more opportunities to level-up your sales force. To explore this sales coaching approach, we'll look at a few real-life scenarios that demonstrate this strategy.
Sales Coaching Scenario 1: Too Few First Meetings
The old school sales manager wouldn’t coach a salesperson who was booking too few first meetings. Instead, they’d demand more calls, believing the only thing the salesperson needs to change is the number of calls they make. Making more poor or ineffective calls can’t produce more first meetings.
One of the things weak managers do is to tell people what the right answer is. They don’t do this because it solves the problem, but because it takes up less of the manager’s time in the moment, even if it leaves the salesperson no better prepared to create the outcome both parties need.
Instead of telling the salesperson to smile and dial, ask them for 20 minutes to coach them on their prospecting plan and the talk track they’re using. Also, go over how they are dealing with prospecting’s single objection: “This is a waste of my time.” Instead of providing an answer, you use sales coaching to solve the underlying problem.
By asking your salesperson to run you through their prospecting plan, you may help them identify something they need to change to improve their sales performance. Follow that with a role-play so you can hear the salesperson’s pitch for a meeting. This helps you determine whether they are trading enough value to deserve a meeting. Because the salesperson will hear a no before they hear yes, you need to ensure they can explain the value to the client.
Sales Coaching Scenario 2: Not Acquiring a Second Meeting
Good leaders are good teachers. They’re also good coaches. The salesperson able to secure a first meeting but not a second one has a serious problem creating enough value in the conversation to pass the audition. The salesperson may be frustrated, and you may be worried about the validity of the salesperson’s current deals in your pipeline.
Failure to book a second meeting is evidence that the salesperson is not creating enough value for the client in the first meeting to get more of their time. Telling this salesperson to create more value is like training a cat to bark. Instead, ask the salesperson to role-play, with you acting as the client. The sales coaching here is about what value there is in the conversation for the client.
Sometimes, good sales coaching requires you to sit in on salesperson’s meetings or have them sit in on another salesperson’s call to see and hear what good looks like, giving them a model.
Sales Coaching Scenario 3: Trouble Accessing Stakeholders
It’s difficult to gain access to the stakeholders who will eventually get to weigh in on a decision. Salespeople occasionally bump into a contact who claim to be the only person making the decision. Other times, there are contacts who don’t want to include their stakeholder colleagues because it creates difficult problems, like opposition from other departments and political infighting.
There are several parts to this problem. First, the salesperson must identify the people who should be part of the sales conversation. Second, the salesperson needs to get access. Because few salespeople have been taught to achieve these outcomes, it is rich territory for sales coaching.
You might start by asking what contacts should be included in the sales conversation based on the salesperson’s past won deals. You can follow up that question by asking why the client should include the people they will need to greenlight their initiative.
Good coaches rarely provide answers. Instead, they provide questions that help the salesperson develop.
Sales Coaching Scenario 4: Pulling Out of a Sales Slump
There may be nothing more discouraging to a sales manager than a successful salesperson in a slump. The Gods of Sales are often cruel, arbitrarily punishing a good salesperson on a whim. They are also often deaf to the salesperson's prayers.
Good sales coaching here is difficult. The salesperson is already doing what they've always done. As a sales coach, you must support the salesperson with encouragement and help them remain persistent. It's easy to stay in a negative state when you are in a sales slump. Your coaching should help your salesperson recognize that life comes with seasons, including dark, cold winters followed by periods where everything is in full bloom.
A good coach recognizes what a salesperson needs and why. Then, they provide it. In this case, that is someone to talk to.
Every Conversation Is Sales Coaching (Or It Could Be)
If there is a conversation about sales, it can be delivered as sales coaching. As a leader, you don't want dependents. You want people who are independent. When you tell people the answers without making them think for themselves, you can't expect them to solve their own problems.
Asking questions in a sales coaching conversation is how you level people up. Your questions help them gain an awareness of why they have a certain problem or struggle to produce the result they need. Questions also hint about the change the salesperson will need to make to improve their performance.
You are already spending time with your salespeople answering their questions. You can use that same time to provide sales coaching that would speed your sales force's development and improve your ability to hit your sales targets. Making every conversation sales coaching is a simple and profound strategy that is also easy to employ.