Today's post is by an internationally recognized sales training and enablement expert, Mike Kunkle, VP of Sales Effectiveness Services at SPARXIQ.
Sales managers lead and guide a sales team to success, just as a coach does for a sports team. One lesson the business world can learn from sports is the value of effectively coaching a team. Since a coach helps someone achieve their personal best, a sales manager who is equipped with a coaching mindset can connect with and develop their sales reps to help them realize their full potential. When managers coach their reps instead of simply providing directive feedback, they maximize sales effectiveness.
Strategic Coaching in Sales
At a high level, sales coaching is a formal developmental process where sales managers partner with their reps to improve performance. Sales managers encourage their reps to take responsibility for their growth by helping them determine areas of development, create action plans, and take steps to improve their performance.
Coaching focuses on your team’s strengths, making each member better. Sports coaches focus on emphasizing their players’ strengths, and train to improve their players and guide them. In sales, instead of telling the reps what to do, sales managers can act as guides to help reps uncover the best strategies to achieve their goals, which creates a development partnership. To build the most effective sales coaching development programs, managers must know what, how, and why to coach.
It’s important to approach sales coaching strategically, rather than simply providing feedback to rep behavior as it happens, by asking these questions:
- Do the sales reps know what to do and why to do it?
- Do they know how much and how often to do it?
- Can and will they do it?
- Are they doing enough of it and are they doing it well enough?
Directive and Facilitative Approaches in Coaching
The answers to the above questions provide direction for coaching opportunities. Just about every sales activity is coachable, including territory optimization, account planning, prospecting, presenting, and negotiating. The best practices learned from these various coaching areas inform the performance improvement solutions needed to solve specific skill gaps for individual reps.
Coaching should be learner-centric. Your approach to training and coaching should adapt based on your rep’s current needs. All coaching should be respectful and engaging to the learner, but the models you use may vary. There are two simple approaches for teaching and validating knowledge and skill that will guide reps to more effectively use what they know and improve what they do. Both approaches are effective when used properly.
Directive approach: Telling, discussing, showing, and validating knowledge and skill
Facilitative approach: Questioning, listening, involving, engaging, and leading
What Sales Coaching Can Do for Your Sales Force
According to David Brock, CEO, Partners in EXCELLENCE and author of the Sales Manager Survival Guide, many sales managers aren’t aware that coaching is a key part of their job and don’t have role models to learn from. The value of coaching is inherently clear and there is a lot of data to support its efficacy. For instance, companies that provide real-time, deal-specific sales coaching increased revenue by 8.4% year-over-year, which is a 95% improvement over companies that don’t provide that level of coaching.
We’ve gathered 15 expert pieces of advice regarding the impact sales coaching has on a company and the consensus gives praise to training sales managers with this mindset. As Carole Mahoney, founder and Chief Sales Coach of Unbound Growth says, “Companies who make sales coaching a priority sell more, do it faster, and keep both their customers and sellers longer. All of this leads to revenue growth that costs less.”
In my eBook about sales coaching, there are guidelines on how to integrate coaching activities into daily, weekly, and monthly workflow to a standard practice. This eBook provides a glimpse into our program that helps you create a coaching culture. There is a better way to achieve mastery levels and maximize sales effectiveness, and that way is sales coaching excellence. Use sales coaching to develop a more well-rounded and successful sales team.