During the writing of my upcoming book (The Street Savvy Sales Leader, due out September 2018, Figure 1 publisher) I interviewed over 100 sales professionals one on one.
One of the questions I asked was to tell me about coaching that you’ve experienced in your sales career that helped make a positive difference for you.
Four main themes emerged over all others:
Number 1: Trust. The reps needed to know that their manager was genuine and sincere and had their best interests at heart. This meant listening to the reps, asking questions and being open to ideas and constructive feedback. If the leader was trusted, feedback was given freely.
Number 2: It was important that the coaching was specific to each individual’s needs and goals. Reps wanted the coaching to be unique to them personally. They said they much preferred real-world, relatable examples to textbook scenarios. The reps also indicated that they were much more responsive to collaborative coaching rather than a directive style that simply told them how to do a task.
Number 3: Salespeople need coaching not only to come from a credible source but also to be credible. In other words, the Sales leader is leading by example because of their experience and expertise. The rep values the coach’s viewpoint and recognizes the benefit of creative new ideas and strategic account and sales call assistance.
Number 4: Coaching needs to be timely, even in real time if necessary, and relevant. The immediate application of coaching lessons leads to sticky behavior. Regularly scheduled coaching calls will reap benefits.
Below is a summary of coaching fundamentals that I believe are imperative to a successful sales coaching environment.
1) Coaching practices need to be developed, supported and maintained company-wide.
2) Coaching is about listening and asking questions; it’s about helping salespeople be self-aware and staying on a continuous path of learning.
3) Managers need to gain trust in order to coach most effectively, and they need to genuinely care about their people.
4) Coaching needs to be specific and relevant to the needs and goals of every individual.
5) Expectations need to be set up front. What are the deliverables and expected outcomes?
6) Coaching needs to add value and come from a place of credibility, experience and relevance.
7) Good coaching should help salespeople stay focused.
8) Coaching needs to be timely and have a regular cadence.
9) Coaching should be hands-on. Time needs to be spent in the field.
10) Not only are the best coaches creative and innovative, they also help their people think creatively and be innovative.
During the writing of my book, I went through the process of becoming a professionally certified business coach by Shift Coaching Inc (www.shiftcoaching.ca). It was an extensive process that included several interactive training clinics, a substantial reading list, role-playing, observing practice-coaching sessions and putting in actual real-time, practical coaching hours. In all, the entire certification process entailed well in excess of 70 hours of effort.
I wish I had gone through a coaching process like this earlier in my sales management career, as I would have been a more effective leader and coach if I had. I would recommend becoming a certified coach (from a reputable organization) to any dedicated Sales manager. It will make you a more seasoned, thoughtful and respected Sales leader.
Again, actual coaching means that you need to develop consistent and regular conversations that serve to help the sales process and sales rep development. These conversations need to be planned and must link to what you are trying to achieve as an organization.
I would love to hear your viewpoint on the coaching experience, please feel free to comment.
To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .
Street Savvy Sales Leadership
For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org