Let me kick you a scenario: Your sales team is struggling. Your average close rate is down, morale is low, and you're out of motivational speeches. What do you do next? If you're like 66% of surveyed companies, chances are you’ll pursue some sort of sales training for your staff.
There's no shortage of sales training systems on the market today, but their results often leave a lot to be desired. Every coaching solution out there claims to be the best, most effective option for your sales team. But how can you find a coaching system that truly lives up to that claim?
Let's take a look at some of the common issues I've seen in other sales coaching systems - and how Sales Accelerator truly is different.
What Features Define the Best Sales Coaching System?
There are a number of challenges that can make coaching ineffective, starting with the lack of a framework for a coaching conversation. This framework should allow the sales manager to effectively lead a conversation designed to help an individual salesperson change their beliefs and their behaviors. Without a framework, most coaching ends up sounding more like a performance review, an approach that doesn't serve the salesperson who is supposedly being coached.
Another key ingredient is a competency model that includes both character traits and skills. Much of the time, sales managers focus on job skills like prospecting or closing, when the root cause of the salesperson's challenge is a character trait. Poor self-discipline, for example, can make a salesperson struggle to do enough prospecting. In the same way, a closing problem might be the result of conflict-aversion, or they may simply lack the language to ask directly for their prospective client's business.
One of the more destructive techniques is trying to change a salesperson’s behavior directly by skipping the necessary coaching that would enable the salesperson to make the behavioral change and improve their results. Coaching requires patience with the changes occurring over time.
Establish trust by discussing your story a bit here: how did you discover the sales training method that actually works?
I was fortunate enough to have sales managers who were not only willing to go on sales calls with me, but let me lead the sales call without interfering, saving their observations for the drive back to the office. The best sales managers made observations, asked me about the outcomes I was trying to pursue, and nudged me to come up with alternate approaches and better language.
In the end, I discovered that there were a few key elements missing from every other sales coaching system on the market. Let's discuss some of those elements, and why they are essential to an effective sales training program.
Identification of Core Issues
Identifying the core issue isn't as simple or as straightforward as most people think. There are two tactics available to the coaching sales manager. The first tactic is to bring awareness to an area that you recognize is a problem for the salesperson. This choice is best when the person isn't aware that their approach is harming their results. Address anything that makes the salesperson vulnerable to losing deals that they might have won with a different sales strategy.
The second tactic is to ask the salesperson to share what they'd like to discuss and what they are noticing about their performance. The more self-aware the person being coached, the more important it is to allow them to choose what they want to work on in coaching. A complete competency model can help you recognize what coaching each salesperson on your team might need.
It's important to work on the right problem when coaching. Pursuing sales training that drills your staff on negotiation tactics will not help your close rate if your team's issues actually stem from the discovery phase of the sales process.
One of the first things we recommend to Sales Accelerator clients is to assess their entire team using our B2B Sales competency model. By assessing your entire team, you can see a pattern of the competencies and sales skills that your team may need, helping you address them through team training and coaching. But the results also provide you a view of each individual, clarifying what areas they are going to need to improve through individual training and coaching.
Your business is unique, and so are the salespeople that make up your sales force. This is why one-size-fits-all sales training doesn't work. Each salesperson has their own strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities, the things that actually cause them to lose deals and struggle in sales.
The right training and coaching for one salesperson may be of no benefit to another salesperson. When we built Sales Accelerator, we made a conscious choice to make every course open and available for the sales managers and salespeople using the platform. While some programs drip the content over time, we believe that providing access to the exact competency or skill better serves sales managers and salespeople, allowing them to get what they need when they need it.
In order to create measurable change and reach meaningful outcomes for your sales team, your coaching system will need to address the core issues of the individuals that make up your sales force. While we make some suggestions about a general path for acquiring the competencies and skills, we also provide different paths based on our assessment, along with the new outcomes that will speed the sales force to better results.
How many times has your team gone through training, seen an uptick in performance for a few weeks, but soon returned to what they were doing before the training or coaching? Sales training and coaching require a cultural change, one built on the accountability to change and improve over time, something we call "development."
Without meaningful change at a cultural level, even the best sales coaching will be nothing more than a temporary fix. The coaching that we recommend includes accountability to change the sales approach, sharing what's working and where some are struggling. The accountability to acquire a new competency and skill over time is a cultural change. It's the reinforcement over time that makes change stick.
We strongly believe that there is nothing more important for a sales organization than "sales effectiveness." Improving the sales force's competencies and skills requires disciplined development, something you can’t achieve with "check box training."
Explore the Best Sales Coaching System of 2022
The reason sales organizations dislike training or coaching is because they only use "check-box training," an approach that doesn't provide anything close to the development necessary to build a modern sales force with a modern set of competencies and skills. Development is the key to sales effectiveness.
As both sales organizations and their clients find themselves facing an uncertain environment, it’s more important than ever that the sales force is trained and developed to lead their prospective clients to the better results they need.