Monthly Archives: April 2017

April 27th, 2017

Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Guiding Principles

Core Principles of Developmental Sales Coaching

The goal of developmental sales coaching is to create an environment where team members feel self-motivated to grow, excel, and take greater responsibility for what they do.

Ensure that the seller talks first, last, and most: Developmental sales coaching helps sellers move toward more self-motivated behavior because it meets our inherent psychological needs for: Autonomy: Asking questions to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to improve performance gives team members a better sense of control versus telling them what to do. Relatedness: Creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment to learn and grow builds trust and strengthens relationships. Competence: Focusing on addressing performance needs helps seller to feel mastery over their work environment and increases their confidence. Ask more than tell: The heart of the coaching conversation lies in the manager’s ability to engage in a collaborative process to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance through effective problem-solving. The benefits of coaching by asking are: Shows respect for the team member Opens conversations, which reveals more and better information for both the manager and seller to accurately diagnose needs Gives the manager a chance to identify gaps in their own thinking before giving feedback Shortens the coaching conversation by reducing defensiveness and getting to the underlying issue quickly Increases seller ownership of and buy-in to the solution Helps sellers become stronger problem solvers and more independent by using the process itself to self-coach Gives the » Continue Reading.

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April 25th, 2017

Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Core Beliefs

Excellence in sales coaching

Making the transition to more effective coaching typically involves changing the conversation.  It’s not about having more conversations.  It’s about changing the dynamics of the conversation from telling and directing to collaborative problem solving, where you help team members self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance.

Let’s begin with the core tenets that underpin Richardson’s sales coaching methodology:

Salespeople should be involved and responsible for their own performance and development. Every person has blind spots that cannot be seen clearly or completely. To see a full, sharp picture, everyone needs an outside perspective. A successful coaching interaction opens perspective for both the salesperson and the sales manager. The sales manager’s role as coach is to be a thought partner and resource — to ask questions, listen, and learn — and to offer perspective with the goal of helping the team member gain insight and inspiration to grow and strengthen performance. Trust is essential. While the focus of the conversation is on the business issues, the essence of a coaching interaction can be deeply personal and emotional.  The salesperson must trust that the sales manager’s intent is to help and support, not criticize, judge, or control. A key opportunity for performance improvement lies in turning routine management inspections into coachable moments. Coachable moments exist everywhere in our daily interactions and routines.  Taking advantage of planned and unplanned coachable moments is the cornerstone of a manager’s success in » Continue Reading.

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April 21st, 2017

6 Barriers to Successful Sales Coaching

Great Sales Coaching

If the path to sales success runs through the team and coaching is so critical, then why is it so hard to build a sustained coaching culture?  In our work with thousands of front-line sales managers, we have heard every reason — not enough time, too many competing priorities, lack of trust in the team, etc.  And yet, when you peel those reasons away, the problem persists.  To truly build a sustained and high-performance coaching culture, one must first understand the true barriers that prevent success.

1.  Sales Managers Often Can’t See the Forrest for the Trees

Leading a sales team is about balancing the long- and short-terms priorities to set the team up for sustained success.  A sales manager needs a team of sellers who are accountable, engaged, and independent; and yet, building that kind of team means taking a strategic approach to high performance.

Most sales managers are primarily focused on numbers and often fall back to tactics and behaviors that might save the month but will prevent long-term, sustained growth.  Focusing on learning and accelerating change through coaching will drive success, but it requires focus and discipline, which get tested and compromised under intense pressure.

Many managers think they are effectively coaching when in fact, they are not — they are directing, telling, and often doing the work themselves.  Approaches to “coaching” fall on a continuum from directive coaching, where the coach serves as an expert, telling » Continue Reading.

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April 20th, 2017

Great Coaching is Counter-Intuitive: 3 Reasons to Coach

Reasons Sales Coaching is Important

Sales coaching is the key to sales success and improving the performance of the sales organization. It is the most important job a sales manager has.

It takes a certain kind of individual to step into a sales manager role — and an even more unique one to be successful at it. Most sales managers know that they have to drive performance through their team if they are ever to have a shot at making their goal. A team goal simply can’t be achieved by one single sales manager. Yet, we often see sales managers making Herculean efforts and resorting to hero tactics to win deals for their team members. Many times, they are putting in the longest hours — more than their direct reports. They put themselves in front of the customer when the stakes are high. They consistently have the monkey on their back.

If you ask a sales manager if coaching is an important aspect of their role, most are sure to agree that it is. It is difficult to find someone who disagrees with the value of coaching. However, in the fast-paced, modern sales environment, where almost everyone has more priorities, more initiatives, more customer issues, and more administrative work, “… it is easy for people to justify not making time for developmental activities.” (Conger, 2013)

There are many reasons why sales coaching is important, here are three core reasons Sales Managers » Continue Reading.

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April 17th, 2017

Complimentary Webinar: Great Coaching is Counter Intuitive

sales coaching webinar

Sales coaching is the key to sales success and is the most important job a sales manager has. But to truly build a sustained and high-performance coaching culture, you must understand the true barriers that prevent success.

Join us for this complimentary Training Industry webinar, sponsored by Richardson. Your host, Miriam Abbey, senior facilitator at Richardson, will provide insights on:

• Barriers to developmental sales coaching • Core tenants of a sales coaching methodology • Guiding principles for excellence in sales coaching

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April 13th, 2017

Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017: Negotiation Insights

Sales Negotiation Insights

In our 2017 Selling Challenges Survey, more than 350 sales professionals  were asked “What will be your toughest negotiation challenge in 2017?” The top responses included:

Gaining Higher Prices (24%) Closing Win-Win Deals (20%) Maintaining Profitability (11%)

“Gaining higher prices” has been the top negotiating challenge for three years running. This year’s top challenges indicate a laser-sharp focus on negotiation outcomes — prices, wins, and profits. “Closing win-win deals” shows the value sellers place on building trust and credibility in order to develop long-term, productive relationships. “Maintaining profitability” is a challenge made visible by the greater availability of real-time sales data, which allows organizations to be smarter about decisions affecting profits. “Managing procurement” is another response worth noting, rising from 4% in 2016 to 11% in 2017. This reflects the increasing involvement of procurement staff as they join the decision-making team late in the process without any emotional attachment to the deal. Their role is to drive down price or get additional products or services for the same price. While this specific challenge didn’t make the top three, its impact is reflected there.

Richardson’s Negotiation Insights

Trust and credibility are keys to managing relationships with customers and closing win-win deals. Sellers can’t claim trusted advisor status; it has to be earned. Being a trusted partner begins with integrity but also requires skill and strategy, which can be learned and practiced.

Sellers need a » Continue Reading.

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April 11th, 2017

Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017: Prospecting Insights

prospecting insights 2017

In our annual selling challenges survey, we asked more than 350 sales professionals to tell us about their biggest challenges in prospecting  in 2017:

17% of respondents reported that creating a targeted prospecting strategy would be their greatest challenge 14% said that the quality of leads from marketing would be their greatest challenge 12% said gaining appointments would be their greatest challenge

These results tell us time is a precious commodity, especially as demands for productivity increase in an increasingly difficult selling environment. Being able to create a targeted prospecting strategy is essential to avoid wasting time, making this the number one prospecting challenge in 2017.

Compared with 2016 responses, this year’s top challenges indicate a trend toward greater targeting and quality of leads. Sellers are homing in on ways to become more strategic in their prospecting efforts, while being less concerned with the “how” — which sales and marketing enablement tools to use — in identifying triggers for their accounts. The availability of data through lead generation and research tools has lifted some of this burden from sellers. The problem, however, is that without a plan for how best to use this data, sellers can easily get lost in the sheer volume available.

The top two prospecting challenges from 2016 dropped off this year’s list. With more sales enablement tools being used, sellers are easily able to research companies as possible targets and to set triggers for their accounts.

» Continue Reading.

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April 7th, 2017

Social Learning in the Digital Age

Social learning tools

With time short and budgets tight, it’s becoming a rare occasion when sales teams actually come together, meeting face to face. The result is often a lack of interaction among team members.

At Richardson, we understand the barriers keeping teams apart, but we also know relationships add value in forming strong sales teams. We believe the answer to bridging this gap lies in technology. Over the past year, we’ve been prototyping and refining a new approach to blended learning that incorporates strong social elements to bring the benefits of social interaction in learning to geographically dispersed teams. This new approach to training works within the realities of today’s sales environment. It is one that doesn’t take sellers out of the field for too long. One flexible enough to work as a standalone online solution or combined with minimal classroom time. One that forges connections between sellers.

Social Learning Tools

Leaderboards allow sellers to see their own progress and compare it against the progress of their teammates. Elements like games, quizzes, answering questions, unlocking achievement badges all promote social interactions. Friendly gameplay appeals to sellers’ natural competitive instincts while reinforcing learning and skill development.

With discussion threads, sellers can talk with others on their team and even have private conversations with managers. They can share comments and questions, and reply to those others have posted. They can discuss best » Continue Reading.

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