Effective sales coaching is the daily investment you make in developing the success of others. Here are four habits that the best sales coaches work into their daily routine:
Share your real-life experiences
The principles of success that you learned as a sales professional deserve to be taught! And there is no better way to teach others than through the sharing of your personal stories and examples. It may take you a bit longer, but it is well worth it.
Think through your biggest sales wins, and losses. What did you do right?
If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message is of little use. For this reason, you will often hear a great sales coach say, “For example…” because they know that their personal stories are the most effective way to communicate.
Lead by example
I know you’re thinking, “yeah, sure. Everybody says this.” But do you actually do it?
For example, surely you wouldn’t want your salespeople to go to a customer meeting without thinking through their agenda, objectives, and next steps. But do you do the same when you meet with your team? Are you prepared with an agenda and objectives? If not, what kind of message does that send?
Similarly, I bet you want your salespeople to do more listening than talking when they deal with prospects and customers. Which do you do more of when you’re dealing with them? Are you a listener or a talker?
Your salespeople are watching everything you do, so these little things count for a lot. So take a critical look at all of your interactions with your sales team. What kind of example are you setting? You must set a standard of excellence, not just talk about the importance of others being excellent.
Teach salespeople to slow down
Last Summer I was watching a San Francisco Giants baseball game. It was the bottom of the 9th, the Giants were ahead 2-1. The Giants’ relief pitcher walked the first three batters he faced. Bases loaded, no outs.
That’s when Giants manager Bruce Boche strode to the mound … and the relief pitcher subsequently struck out the next three batters he faced. The Giants won the game.
In the post-game press conference a reporter asked Boche what he said to the relief pitcher. Boche said he told his pitcher, “Slow down. Don’t rush the pitch.”
Boche went on to explain…. “In a stressful situation a pitcher can be so anxious about what will happen when the ball crosses the plate that he forgets about the mechanics of what he needs to do to make an effective pitch.”
The sales profession, too, is chock-full of stress. Your salespeople often forget about their mechanics. They rush their pitch, and can end up losing the game.
Effective sales coaches get their salespeople to slow down, by which I mean that they teach their salespeople to think through the mechanics of what they need to be doing at each stage of the sales process. They help salespeople identify what the customer needs to do to move to the next step in their buying process, and then provide that customer with the right information to make that step happen quickly.
Focus on ABC – Always Be Coaching
Less effective sales managers take a hands-off approach with their salespeople. They don’t bother to coach, unless or until one of their salespeople fails or has a lousy month. Then the manager inflicts a coaching process on the poor producer. This is the equivalent of saying, “When you fail, I’ll coach you. But otherwise you’re on your own.”
In contrast, great sales coaches make it a point to coach somebody before noon every day. They schedule coaching like an appointment in their calendar. They look for opportunities to coach and teach every day.
Building New Habits
At the peak of famed motivation researcher Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” is “self actualization” — the desire to become everything that one is capable of becoming. So, proactive sales coaching motivates your salespeople to grow and improve. To build a more motivated sales team, implement these four coaching habits. Pick one and stick with it until it becomes natural behavior, then move on to the next one. And by the next New Year’s Day, you can look back on your best year ever!