Do you aspire to master the game of sales coaching? Good! There are few better places to invest to boost your sales productivity and improve your bottom line than optimized coaching for your sales team.
Before we begin, here are some sales coaching statistics that’ll motivate you to put these 4 principles into practice right away.
- Great coaching is directly connected to meeting and exceeding sales quotas. A study from CSO Insights showed that when coaching skills exceed expectations, 94.8% of sales reps meet quota. When coaching skills need improvement, only 84.5% hit quota.
- Research from the Sales Executive Council (SEC) examined thousands of salespeople and found receiving quality coaching helped them improve long-term performance up to 19%.
9 out of 10 employees say professional development is “important” or “very important,” and four in 10 specifically want in-house programs.
- Billions are wasted at sales training seminars and workshops, which are basically cram sessions. Research shows that even top-notch sales training gets forgotten quickly. Your team needs consistent, quality coaching that reinforces curriculum for the long run, so that the sales training becomes cemented into the team’s real-world work.
While others take a one-size-fits all approach to managing their sales team, make decisions from the top down, and ignore the individual strengths and opportunities their teams represent, you can learn the principles that’ll put your company head and shoulders over your competition.
Ready to coach and develop your sales team in a more masterful way? These 7 Principles will get you there.
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The Principle of Phenomenal Focus
Choose your ONE thing. This is not a time to multi-task. Cultivate one area of excellence at a time with each member of your sales team. Your focused attention on helping your salespeople achieve their personal best in one area at a time will create a culture of constant, incremental improvement in the things that matter most.
Kill your darlings. Fight your urge to help the bottom 20% performers and/or the top 20% of performers. In the book The Challenger Scale, Brent Adamson and Matt Dixon found that the real payoff from good coaching lies among your core performers (the middle 60%). Rather than burning energy on people you should let go, or superstars whose improvements will ultimately have less payoff, focus on what will help the majority of your sales people.
DON’T go with your gut. Watch the metrics that matter, and I’m talking beyond the quota. Utilize your CRM’s goldmine of data to determine where individual salespeople and teams should focus for better results. During your reviews, you may also notice unexpected actions sales people could be taking that are leading to better conversions. See how your salespeople are performing based on team averages, their historical performance, and determine how wide the gaps are between your core performers and star players. Focus on data, not feelings.
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Put away the numbers. After a basic review and understanding where you’re at, put the numbers on the shelf and consider what they represent. Remain focused on skills and techniques rather than getting lost in a sea of numbers. Few people are motivated by hard data, so when you speak to your salespeople, it’s fine to reference the digits, but be sure to anchor your discussion on real human actions, or “lead measures,” that create real results.
People respect what you inspect. Don’t miss check-ins on the things that you say matter. Your sales team will simply disregard what you don’t show consistent focus on by checking in. Show them what matters by taking interest.
The Principle of True Empathy
Feel the pain, feel the joy. Much emphasis is placed on a person’s IQ (Intelligence Quotient) but look out for your own low or waning EQ (empathy quotient). A degree of empathy should come naturally to all of us. Showing understanding, and even sharing in the feelings of your sales team is a sign of respect and consideration. A manager or sales coach with low empathy often finds themselves making big offensive blunders in what they say and do, ultimately pushing their team away. While someone with high empathy can be very intuitive, possessing an attuned nature that puts their salespeople at ease and makes them more successful. In many cases, the capacity to show empathy will make or break your sales numbers.
Earn their trust.
Some elements of trust are consistency, honesty, and sharing. So, if you set meetings and deadlines, keep them. Don’t change the rules mid-stream. Be genuine with people rather than putting on a mask. Trust me, they can spot when someone is fake! When people share with you, don’t be judgemental, respond in kind and let them see your “human” side instead of just the manager side. This will go a long way in earning your sales team’s trust.
Listen like your business depends on it. Because it does! If you haven’t noticed by now, salespeople tend to be independent self-starters who prefer to operate within a set of guidelines, rather than being told what to do. As such, focus on asking the right open-ended questions as you involve your sales team in decision-making and evaluation. The ability to listen in a way that develops people can be challenging, but it is one of the biggest differentiators between a manager style vs. coaching style of leadership.
Know them inside and out. Do you know your team’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles? Do you know what motivates them, and what their hopes and fears are? Know your people, remind them of who they are and what they’re in this for, and don’t be surprised if they come to trust you more than they trust themselves. And of course, do not abuse this position of authority.
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The Principle of Connection
Anything but boring. Masterful coaching requires effective communication and the ability to build excitement and momentum. Helping your salespeople to develop goals worth striving for, without burning them out, is a difficult balancing act.
Here are just a few ways you can build connection into your sales coaching framework:
- Check in with each salesperson to hear their thoughts on personal wins and losses
- Set up “shadow” sessions so they can take a peek behind the curtain – pick a salesperson to bring into a big deal or be present for an in-person meeting where company-wide goals are discussed
- Go on a “ride-along” so you can see what their day is really like
- Have your salesperson write down their own goals and commitments and share with you
Nail the Principle of Connection and see how your ability to connect with the needs, wants, and motivations of your sales team makes a marked improvement on the bottom line. In doing so, you’ll also be helping your salespeople connect on an individual level with the company as a whole, how they fit, and give them a greater sense of fulfillment from the work that they do.
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The Principle of Contagious Enthusiasm
A study by Towers Watson reported that 63% of U.S. workers are not fully engaged in their work, and Gallup estimates that the cost of employee disengagement is approximately $300 billion in lost productivity. Those are some statistics you don’t want to find yourself in. Avoid this lack of engagement and productivity by infusing enthusiasm into the foundation of your sales team.
Here are a few tips to get you on the right track:
- Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching? Make sure your sales team can tell that you not only like, but LOVE what you do. Talk about industry-wide events, news, and insights that pique your interest. Openly celebrate and express delight in hitting goals.
- Openly praise individual salespeople on wins big and small, anything that supports the culture and mission of the company, even if it didn’t happen during business hours. For example, Debbie ran a 5k last weekend… Brag on her!
- Communicate challenges to your sales team and show how they can make a difference. Giving them opportunities to be heroes will provide fuel for the flames of enthusiasm.
- Give prizes and set incentives around new goals.
- Ask for suggestions from your sales team, personally and professionally, and try them out. This could be as simple as suggestions for where to go to dinner, or as impactful as the opening line to an important email.
- Post about successes on LinkedIn and be sure to tag any salespeople who have wowed you. Such recognition among colleagues and in the industry is rare, but highly valuable for building morale. Better if you are in a picture with them and have asked their permission before posting.
- Show them growth is possible. If they feel they’re on a dead-end road with no opportunity for growth, none of the above tips and tricks will work. Advocate for your sales team and win them opportunities for salary and title advancement.
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Maintaining a positive attitude and encouraging your sales team are paramount. And yes, it is possible to reinvigorate a tired and burned-out staff, so don’t give up!
In the meantime, if you’re interested in leveraging our proven system of lead generation, wish to sit face-to-face with c-level executives and directors, or simply want some guidance on creating a tailor-made strategy for outbound sales… we invite you to get in touch with C-Level Partners today.
Until next time. . .