sales

The most transformative sales coaching element is coaching to the individual-The #1 Hack to improving sales performance

_To get above average performance, you need an above average coaching process. To do that, you need to coach the individual._.jpg

Every sales team has a mix of different personality types. As leaders and sale’s managers we have to work at managing and coaching to each individual to optimize performance.

The easiest approach to managing sales people is a broad-brush performance and or activity perspective. This will reap average performance because its an average performance management system.

This lack of specificity in coaching fails to address the different work styles, attributes, experience, objectives, and motivations. This results in a lack of new ideas, a lack of effective collaboration, deeper and more meaningful learning is missing, and performance becomes a challenge.

To get above average performance, you need to manage and coach using an above average process. To do that you need to coach to the individual.

What motivates one person does not motivate another. I believe that for sure reps need to be self motivated, that’s an obvious given. But to get the extra mile from your people, to receive exceptional effort, it helps to ensure they are being supported and coached in a way that increases their intrinsic motivation, not hamper it.

I have read from some sales experts that say reps need to be self motivated and we can’t as managers influence them. Hire motivated reps, and fire unmotivated reps, while that is partially true, I don’t entirely agree. I have seen highly motivated sales professionals become disenchanted from lack luster sales management.

In a tight labor market I would not want to make that assumption.

I know from my own experience, I was a highly motivated and driven sales person. That was inside me and no one could take it away. But I would go the extra mile, put in the extra effort, and stay longer when I was working for someone that I looked up to  and felt supported by.

One of the steps a leader needs to take is to determine what makes each of his or her people tick, what’s important to them, what style are they, how do they learn, and what motivates them. Assessments are also a great asset to help in this process.

HBR published an article on the topic of managing to different personality types by Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg and Kim Christfort (April 2017). 190,000 people completed their assessment and they described the results and how you can capitalize on cognitive diversity. It clearly works.

Specific coaching is an underused tool that offers superior results.

It’s one of the most important transformative elements of effective coaching—coaching to the individual.

Are you coaching to your individual team members? Feel free to comment.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, feel free to order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

e-mail mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, speaking or consulting feel free to contact me.

Why are so many of us in sales still spewing out product garbage, too soon and too often?

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It’s crazy to me that we still need to coach sales people not to sell on product. I was just reviewing some old books on my shelf and came across the gem, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book sold millions and has been talked about for decades. It was published in 1989 by Simon and Schuster, 30 years ago.

Here you go, page 244, “An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems. It’s a totally different approach. The professional learns how to diagnose, how to understand.”

“It’s a totally different approach” – Yah  30 years ago it was!!

I realize that today we are also striving to advance the conversation to insights and value creation, and helping customers with ideas and scenario’s that they perhaps havn’t even thought of.

We still need to help customers solve their business problems by developing outcomes for them that resonate and are meaningful for their business and for them personally.

It’s curious to me that many sales consultants and thought leaders talk about this as if its new thinking.

I remember a family friend who sold for a paint manufacturer, yes paint. He traveled all over Canada selling paint. He was a good friend of my dad, and I was just a kid at the time. So this was 40 plus years ago.

I’ll never forget him talking about selling in our living room, smoking his pipe (yes he was smoking a pipe-not very popular these days). He talked about helping his customers, he never talked about the product.

Why are we still even having this conversation?

Because reps astonishingly, are still doing it.

Lets make 2019 the year we pause, think, ask questions, sincerely care about the outcome, and listen, I mean, really, actively, listen.

I help coach professionals on this topic among others on a continual basis, yes its still an issue.

It’s very rewarding to see them make the shift into outcomes and how they see very quickly that it changes the whole dynamic of the conversation they have with their clients in a positive way.

Please feel free to comment on this topic and join the conversation.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, you can also order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, part time sales leadership or contract work, advising, or speaking engagements contact me directly;

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

The Top Three Challenges Facing Sales Organizations Today And What To Do About It !

Photo by Shane Rounce

Photo by Shane Rounce

This is definitely my most important post so far.

While companies all face different challenges, there are three universal ones plaguing the sales industry today:

1. The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically. There are now more decision makers in every sales situation; the buyer is busier, more knowledgeable and more risk-averse; the buyer’s expectations of the sales profession are much higher; and the decision process is more complex. Thus, it is harder than ever to move a buyer to make a change.

2. It is tougher than ever before to differentiate your offering. Companies and salespeople are struggling to stand out and truly offer something of sincere value in every step of the sales process to their customers in a very crowded market. Even if you have a product or service that can be differentiated it’s still tough to get buyer mindshare.

3. Sales reps are facing increasingly complex and time-challenging demands. Companies want more data (typically through CRM platforms), reps need to be more knowledgeable about their product and more prepared for every sales interaction than they ever have and there is greater pressure on reps to provide consistently higher sales. The reps may not receive sufficient support, so they need to work harder to balance increased internal demands against winning more sales.

 

So, here we have the perfect storm: a more complex and challenging customer environment, where more time is essential to properly prepare for each customer interaction; a proliferation of products and competitors that makes differentiation more challenging; and increased expectations for both sales achievements and non-selling activities.

 

My strident message to senior sales leaders and B to B executives and owners;

You absolutely cannot have your cake and eat it, too. Sales needs the time to focus on selling and, at the same time, the sales organization needs to close the gap between buyers’ expectations and the sales community’s skills and expertise.

So if you want to be a world class sales organization, give your team the tools and support they need and let your sales people sell. Do not overburden them with non selling stuff !!!

 

Creating a Best-in-Class Sales Team

I have witnessed firsthand these increased challenges in the marketplace and in the customer mindset, yet I believe sales remains an exciting and rewarding career. Despite what others may suggest, sales is not dead, it is evolving. And we in the field must adapt.

In order to meet business growth objectives, you need to overcome today’s challenges. The only way to do that is to build a best-in-class sales team. By best-in-class, I mean a sales organization built on a solid foundation that’s composed of a winning, supportive and collaborative sales culture; caring leadership; an effective hiring process; a strong sales process with robust analytics; proven execution; a customer-driven philosophy; and a mindset of continuous improvement and learning.

 

Below are the 10 imperatives that I believe are critical for developing a sales organization that will help you win in the marketplace and meet your revenue goals.

 

1. A well-thought-out, customized hiring process to find the candidates with the most potential to succeed.

2. A defined onboarding program and talent management system that will get your new hires firing on all cylinders as quickly as possible and keep them that way.

3. A finely tuned sales process and funnel management.

4. Appropriate key performance indicators, metrics and analytics to measure success.

5. Sales planning to ensure you are calling on the right targets and that your salespeople are focused.

6. Sales methodology to ensure consistency and effectiveness in the sales process.

7. Effective real-time coaching to help your salespeople be their best.

8. Compensation and reward and recognition programs that are aligned with what you need to achieve.

9. Change management, because change is here to stay.

10. A caring, high-performance culture where sales employees feel they are a part of something of value and where they can express themselves and collaborate freely in a team environment.

 

These imperatives will enable your sales leadership to create a best-in-class sales team, which will provide your organization with the best possible opportunity to win in the marketplace.

 

It is these 10 imperatives that my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader is all about.

 

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,  www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

My Take On the Key Hallmarks of Top Sales Professionals-Heads up ! there's more than 5

Photo by Joshua Earle

Photo by Joshua Earle

Sorry, it’s more than 5 !

I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the best salespeople in the business. The most successful salespeople I have worked with have a mixture of some of these qualities:

1. They are the most focused. They know what they needed to accomplish. They are organized. There are always issues that can distract you. The best reps acknowledge the issues, work on solving them or bringing them to management’s attention, and then they move on and get back to their plan.

2. They always think about what the customer is thinking. This canny ability allows the rep to determine what the customer’s challenges are, understand the problems and thus see the opportunities.

3. They have a sincere desire to achieve. This means they are tenacious and confident, and possess willpower, courage and determination. They sell with passion. I often ask customers the question “Why did you choose us to do business with?” You might be surprised to learn that the answer is sometimes dead simple: the relationship, trust, service, price, references, et cetera. But one answer that stands out because I heard it more often was this: “The account team wanted it more than any other team. They worked for it; they were tenacious.”

4. They are persuasive and are aware of the behavioral buying patterns of customers. Eighty percent of decisions are made on emotions. The top salespeople are attuned to the emotions or emotional states of their buyers.

5. They are superb listeners. They sincerely care and are empathetic (high on the emotional intelligence scale

6. They are responsive. They deal with problems quickly, and they honor their commitments and promises to their support team and their customers.

7. They are positive and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm spreads, as you know. A person walks into a room with that special kind of energy that can change the dynamic in the room. The same goes for the reverse. Enthusiasm is contagious, but it’s a balancing act—don’t overdo it. It may not come across as sincere.

8. They are naturally curious. They read voraciously. I always suggest to reps that they stay up to date with what’s going on in the world around them, as this helps tremendously when meeting with and talking to clients. Natural curiosity then extends to a sincere desire to question and inquire and to learn more about their customers.

9. They have goals and they make plans for the day, week, month, quarter and year ahead.

10. They do their homework and prepare, and then prepare some more. I’m not sure I can emphasize enough how important preparation is. Preparation for a sales call, for a bid, an overall account strategic plan—the person who has a plan is in control. Remember the words from the great John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history: “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

11. They know their company, its products and its services, and they have the ability to communicate a compelling story to their prospects.

12. They are great at building rapport and relationships, and so they are quick to gain credibility and win trust.

13. They are the hardest-working and the most committed. Sales success does not come without effort. Salespeople acquire knowledge through hard work and a burning desire to succeed.

14. They have the ability to call on the right people at the right time, with the right message. This sounds easy, but it takes a lot of the skills described above to make this happen.

15. They are highly adaptable to change and technologically literate. They know the power of the internet, social media (especially LinkedIn) and computer technology and apps that help them communicate with customers. New tools will continue to impact the way we relate.

16. They understand collaboration and are never afraid to get help when and where they need it. Selling today is about team selling more than ever. You typically can’t win opportunities by yourself. You need help.

17. They are trustworthy and guided by integrity. They do what they say they are going to do, and they stand up for what is right. I believe that if you are honest and do the right thing, you will win business and be rewarded.

In the highly demanding business world of today, sales professionals are expected to be financially literate (e.g., know how to read a balance sheet and income statement) and to be industry experts, relationship builders and company collaborators. Their customers expect the rep to be their voice and to have that voice be respected. There is no limit to the variety of challenges, people and opportunities the sales profession offers, with both financial and professional awards beckoning.

I believe that selling is an honorable vocation and is attracting different and new talent because of the challenges, varied experience and rewards it offers. It’s important to me to keep evangelizing the caring nature of the role, the code of ethics it needs to abide by and the fact that it’s a profession that exists, primarily, to help people and organizations make good business decisions that will help their business thrive.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the top selling hallmarks, 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 .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Listen Up Sales Leaders; What did over 100 sales professionals express to me about what was important to them in receiving coaching?

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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 .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

How Do You Create A Caring Sales Culture That Will Pay Dividends In Your Sales Teams Results?

Photo by Juan Pablo Rodriguez

Photo by Juan Pablo Rodriguez

Having a productive, collaborative, open, trusting, accountable, high performing sales culture is, arguably, the most important ingredient in a successful overall best-in-class sales organization.  

“Corporate culture,” as defined by Investopedia.com, “refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations.”

Research conducted by Deloitte found that 82 percent of senior executives felt that culture offered a competitive advantage. The company’s research also indicated that when culture and strategy were in alignment, there can be a lift in performance by as much as 50 percent.

I’ve conducted research of my own through over 100 interviews with sales professionals and my findings were consistent with Deloitte’s findings. Ninety-five percent of those I interviewed said that culture played a significant role in the workplace. In fact, when asked the question about the importance of culture, I found it very interesting that more than 50 percent of respondents offered more than a plain “Yes.” Fifty-four percent opined that culture was “100 percent, definitely, absolutely, for sure, hugely, massively super important”. As it was only a yes-or-no question, it caught me off guard that it elicited such an emphatic answer from so many.

When I asked sales professionals to describe what an ideal culture looked like, 77 percent talked about a focus on teamwork. Most comments were about a positive team environment where team members help one other, are focused on common goals, are accountable to one another and push each other to achieve in a collaborative workplace. Interviewees talked about wanting to feel like part of a family and the importance of camaraderie and having an open and honest environment where you can share ideas openly.

So, how do you build an ideal sales culture? How do you create an environment that breeds high performance? How do you create an environment that allows and encourages people to collaborate and thrive? How do you create an environment that facilitates trust and thereby fosters an atmosphere of autonomy, adaptability and lightning-speed execution of what it takes to achieve the desired results? How do you create an organization with an overriding purpose? How do you create a culture that puts the customer first?

Culture is developed over time by quality of leadership, belief in the company’s values and the stories that become part of the fabric of the organization. Culture is supported by your manifesto or mission statement, the people you hire, organizational structure, incentives, reward and recognition, and performance management and coaching. Culture needs to permeate the organization if you want it to be a strong and consistent element of your company.  

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, in their book Primed to Perform, define a high- performing culture as “the system that maximizes adaptive performance through total motivation.”1 Part of the central premise in Primed to Perform is that a performance culture, by its very essence, creates an environment where adaptability thrives, and thereby it creates groupings of employees who are optimally engaged, and who are always looking to perform at their best partly by continually looking for ways to make things better. Doshi and McGregor point out that “Culture ... allows us to react to the unpredictable. It is a force of agility.”2

A culture that creates a set of values and places a priority on the needs of the employee as well as the company will be an organization that is more successful and will retain its people much longer. Sales Leaders need to value and care about the individuals on their teams. They are not just individuals that have a job to do for your company. They are individuals who have different needs, wants, emotions and feelings and objectives, which deserve to be recognized. Employees should be respected for their individual differences just as much as the needs of the organization.

The most important element of culture for me is “caring.” How do we create a caring culture? This isn’t solely about caring for your people; it’s about caring about everything. To care is to render significance to everything you do: caring about your customers, caring about your salespeople, caring about your brand and caring about all your stakeholders.

“Culture,” said Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, “is everything. That’s why I try to meet all our new graduate hires. They are our lifeblood! And I keep beating the drum-management is here to serve the workers.”3

It has been proven that emotionally intelligent leadership keeps employees more engaged, enthusiastic and motivated than leaders who create an environment that is not as positive, open and engaging. To me, this is so obvious it should go without saying; but unfortunately, there are many leaders—and I have worked with and for several—who just don’t get it.

The leadership style that does not place a high value on creating a culture of engagement will be stuck in mediocrity. Such a sales culture may do okay, and numbers might be met on occasion, but think of how well the sales organization could do with fully engaged employees and high levels of motivation and morale. The level of commitment would lift performance, the culture would attract good people and churn would be lessened. Where there is little or no emotionally intelligent leadership, people tend to not be as invested in the organization. If salespeople don’t feel they are cared for, they won’t really care about leaving and moving on at the drop of a hat or when given a better offer. This is not hearsay. It is proven.

Culture is very hard to define and difficult to measure, and yet it is critical to a company wanting to be the best of the best, or a sales team wanting to be best-in-breed. It comes with small changes, small acts, small behavioral changes and small value changes. These changes can lead to remarkable shifts in the organization that then lead to increased productivity, performance and retention of employees.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the caring culture, 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 .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

1)      Primed To Perform-How To Build The Highest Performing Cultures Through The Science Of Total Motivation, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, Harper Collins, 2015, page 54

2)      Primed To Perform-How To Build The Highest Performing Cultures Through The Science Of Total Motivation, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, Harper Collins, 2015, page 55

3)      Beyond Measure-The Big Impact of Small Changes. Margaret Hefferman, Ted Books, Simon and Schuster, 2015, page 80

 

Sales Metrics-Yes you need it but how much is too much?

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Metrics don’t replace the Art of selling,, they augment it.

I’ve interviewed many sales leaders, accountability around sales metrics was mentioned as a top priority. So, there is no doubt that leaders recognize how important metrics and analytics are in the maximizing of their sales team’s performance.

Sales analytics basically provide information for sales management to assess the sales and marketing efforts. The analytics can help with accurate sales forecasting, more sophisticated funnel management and trends, enhanced buyer knowledge, and performance by rep. They can also facilitate more meaningful coaching conversations by giving managers the data they need to help the reps be more efficient and effective. The balancing act here is to be able to surface the optimal type of information without over burdening the sales teams.

Part of the story is to ensure that sales teams have the support they need, and that they know the “why” behind the data. Any data that can be derived and entered without the need for a field salesperson should be done by sales support when possible. Keep salespeople in the field as much as you can. For data they need to manipulate, make sure it’s easy for them to manage and that they’re able to do it remotely using mobility tools.

 

“What gets measured, gets done.”

–Mason Haire, organization theorist

 

There is no question that sales management needs metrics in order make sure the funnel is as full as it can be and that the sales group is meeting the revenue expectations of the company; however, the amount and type of information required needs to be specific to the unique demands of different businesses.

It’s safe to say that metrics are equally important to the reps themselves, as they own the outcome. The best salespeople know where they stand at all times and what they have to do to be successful. For those who don’t know, it’s up to management to assist and coach in this very important area. It may seem quite intuitive how important this is, but not all sales management or salespeople fully appreciate it.

As Jeb Blount points out in his book, Fanatical Prospecting: “It is no different in sales. Elite salespeople, like elite athletes, track everything. You will never reach peak performance until you know your numbers and use those numbers to make directional corrections.”1

The important thing to keep in mind here is to pick the right metrics that will get you to where you need to go, and ensure you are only using metrics that are necessary. Overdoing metrics will overburden the sales force with activity—that will do nothing more than take them away from filling their funnel and closing more business. 

In determining what to measure its important to measure activity as well as the outcome of the activity. Some sales people will argue, how can you measure what you seemingly can’t control, such as a customer’s decision-making process? or when a deal closes?

The major priority behind sales is to influence the decision making process and to close new opportunities. Yes there can be pieces of the decision process that are difficult to measure and change, and we can’t always predict exactly when a deal is going to close. But it is our role as much as possible in sales to influence, change, and help with buyers decisions, and to close business. So we need to measure both, the activity we need to engage in, and the outcomes we are being asked to perform.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Weinberg, who stated, “You cannot build a sustainable productive, healthy sales culture without a laser focus on goals and results. And that’s especially true if you want to maintain a high level of sales talent within the organization. A-players want to be pushed, expect to [be] held accountable for exceeding goals, and won’t tolerate being micro managed.”2

While the metrics are important, it’s equally important how you measure and manage them. As mentioned, top salespeople don’t like to be micromanaged—and they shouldn’t be. But knowing what activity typically drives what result is mission critical. Where the management of these metrics becomes especially important is to manage to the individual needs of each sales person. Each person is different, and therefore, how you coach and manage each person needs to be different. The same goes for metrics: they need to be used, but they need to be used in different ways for different situations.

The importance in using data is not about micromanagement; it’s about helping the reps understand what they need to do in order to meet their objectives. If used in the right way, with the right kind of coaching, the use of relevant data will be welcomed by the sales force, as they’ll  know it will help them be more successful.

Some sales organizations opt to be granular about the reps’ activity. How many sales calls are the reps making per week on average? The old adage, “You can’t sell anything unless you’re actually talking to a customer” is very true. Whether it’s an inside sales role or outside only, the dynamic is the same; and, typically, it’s a numbers game. The more customers a sales rep sees and presents solutions to, the more sales that rep is likely going to make. The issue is how many sales calls are required to be successful, and this is where art versus science comes into the picture. Until you measure the activity and get some history, you’re guessing. You need data.  And of course, where the art comes into play, some sales people will require less activity to reach the same result as they are more effective than their peers.

In enterprise-level large companies with complex sales, it’s less about the number of meetings and other specific measures and more about strategic planning and action plans around specific opportunities.

Remember, one size does not fit all. Align what you are measuring to the role and against the outcome you are after.

I would love to hear from your viewpoint on this topic, please comment below.

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

1)      Fanatical Prospecting, The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, And Cold Calling—Jeb Blount, John Wiley and Sons Inc, New Jersey, 2015, page 37

2)      Sales Management Simplified-The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results From your Sales Team, Mike Weinberg, Amacom, 2016, page 13

 

 

Great Coaching is Akin to Sales itself, its part Art and part Science. Why being a "Dashboard Junkie" is not sustainable!

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The Sales leaders of today, as well as overall business leaders and business owners want to win net new business, get more business from existing clients, increase sales productivity, and produce more predictable sales forecasts. To execute on this, they need to increase the sales force’s win rate, and improve the participation rates, i.e., get a higher percentage of reps hitting their numbers. This can only be executed with solid sales leadership and coaching.

 

It is widely recognized that improving sales coaching is the most important ingredient in improving overall sales effectiveness in the sale force. And yet it is also recognized that managers are not coaching enough nor are they coaching effectively.  One of the biggest bangs for your development dollar will be in ensuring your sales management team is effectively coaching and performance managing your sales team.

 

In a study of 2,000 salespeople by the Sales Executive Council, salespeople who received three or more hours of sales coaching per month on average reached 107 percent of their quota, as compared to 88 percent of quota for salespeople who received little or no coaching.

 

That’s a 19% improvement in results from coaching alone.

 

In researching for my upcoming book The Street Savvy Sales Leader I interviewed over 100 sales professionals. Of the sales leaders I interviewed 100% said that coaching was important and played a role in improving sales results, but only 60% said that they  coached regularly (regularly means at least once every two weeks). That doesn’t exactly bode well for ongoing continuous improvement of your sales teams.

 

I know of one employee survey in a large sales organization, where the number one major issue that came out of the sales teams was that they wanted more real time face to face coaching, meaningful coaching. Clearly, sales people are starving for an opportunity to be coached to get better at their craft.

 

When I think of the best managers I ever had as a sales rep it was a manager who really had my back and truly wanted me to be successful. He no doubt wanted to be successful himself as a sales leader, but his way of being successful himself was putting his people first. He was always there to help, to listen, to provide guidance, to provide support in strategic account planning and, support in bouncing ideas. I remember early in my career going into his office with a challenge or a problem, and he always had time for me.

 

You never felt like you were bothering him. He truly wanted me to perform, and to win. Because of that, as a sales rep I sincerely wanted to be successful as much for him as for myself. I wanted to be the best I could be, because I knew if I was, it would help him and if I wasn’t it would disappoint him and I did not want to disappoint him. I remember vividly working especially hard at the end of a year to bring in as much business as I possibly could because I wanted to make sure he made it to Presidents Club. His whole team felt the same way. The whole sales team worked their butts off to ensure he would make it to the Presidents Club trip that year. And he did.

 

During my interviews with sales people, some of those that perceived they had received good coaching made comments like the following; they were, “inspired and motivated to put in the extra effort, it increased my drive”, “when your guided and properly supported, you learn from that and benefit from improved results”, “with transparency and trust, you end up sharing more as a result, so you get to answers or solutions quicker”, they inspire you, build your confidence, when they have your back, you’ll do anything for them”. You think better and focus better because they cared about me.”

 

Powerful words I think, its that kind of followership that gets you Best in Class sales results.

 

Mike Weinberg put it this way, “The very best sales managers are Multipliers. They subdue their own egos for the sake of their people. They understand that their mission is to win through their salespeople. They don’t micromanage every detail. When necessary, they ask insightful questions that challenge the status quo and a sales person’s approach. Instead of jumping in and taking over at every chance, they look for coaching opportunities. Great sales managers deflect the credit; they don’t steal it. And they often jump in front of the bus to protect their people rather than throwing them under it so they look good themselves.” (1)

 

Like many levers to improve sales results, coaching requires the support of the organization, it needs to be a constant and regular cadence. That is, it needs to be conducted on an ongoing basis as an organization practise. There is a skill and a competency to coaching that is underestimated. Coaching is not only looking at numbers, and it is not asking why you didn’t make certain metrics or kpi’s. In other words being a “Dashboard Junky”. It’s not dictating a certain style.

 

Like sales itself, coaching is part art and part science. It’s the great managers who know when and how to apply each.

 

Coaching is not telling the sales rep what to do or how to do something like making a cold call, or closing a deal. The easiest way to manage a sales rep is to simply tell them how to do something. You are the expert, just share your knowledge.

 

Simple, right? The problem is the sales rep won’t learn anything, and you must have the same conversation repeatedly. Sure, it might make you feel good, it’s good for the ego to solve something, to have an answer for some issue, or behavioral challenge.

 

What I’ve learned is that it is far more rewarding to coach properly and more thoughtfully because you really witness how you have genuinely helped someone. You have helped them become better at what they do with lasting effect. It’s a little more difficult, you must put aside your need to solve something quickly and move on, your ego’s need to look and feel like the expert. But in the long run you are not being an effective coach and it’s not scalable if you just dictate or correct. If you coach to lasting effect, the less often they will need you going forward, you won’t have to resolve every problem every time.

 

The questioning process in effective coaching will take more of your valuable time. True coaching is gaining their trust and sincerely working on helping them be better at what they do. The only way to do that is to ask questions, after a call ask them how they think the call went, how they think they could have improved. How did they open the call, how did the customer react to their opening, how did the customer react to their questions? Why do you think the customer reacted that way? What other way could you have tried that might have been more effective? Did you tell a relevant story? What value or insight did you discuss that resonated with the client?

 

This way of coaching forces the reps to really dig in and think about what they’ve done in a given situation. They need to really look at how they planned for the call, what decisions they made in terms of strategy to get to the decision maker. Whatever the issue, ask questions first, then help them solve the problem, or improve the behavior together. If they self identify you will get longer lasting results, and the rep will own the change more fully.

 

I believe that sales management  and effective coaching is the key lever in your ability to create a best in class sales team, without it, you will not achieve your revenue growth targets. I liken sales coaching to the sports coaching we see daily, whether it be team sports like hockey or football, or individual sports like golf and tennis, everyone needs a coach, no matter how good you are. 

 

I recommend that any sales manager that wants to be the best he or she can be should make sure that they receive the coaching training they need to be managers. If your company doesn’t offer it, ask if they will support you financially to get the training on your own. If not I would invest in it on your own, it will definitely pay off in your career and in your teams results.

 

I have spent over 60 hours working on becoming a certified business coach and it has made the world of difference in my conversations with sales people.

I would be happy to refer you to an excellent coaching program if you're interested. Just email  me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com.

 

Yes the manager has to pay attention to the results, the activity, the KPI’s and other metrics, but I believe more importantly, the manager has to pay more attention to real time effective coaching, helping their people be the best that they can be, day in and day out.

 

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, or reserve an order for my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

References;

1.       Mike Weinberg. New Sales. Simplified: The Straight Truth about Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team. New York: AMACOM, 2014, p. 38.