Category Archives: 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.
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.
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.
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)
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
Sales leaders are regularly advised to have an open-door policy. An open door lets their sales professionals know they can walk in at any time to ask for help, advice, or updates. There is a lot of value in showing your team you care enough to be available when they need you.
There also is value in knowing when to shut the door.
The 60-40 Rule for Sales Leaders
In my previous posts on sales leadership, Why is sales leadership so tough? And what to do about it and 5 Tips to Help Sales Leaders Develop Top Performers, I discussed how sales leaders need to devote 60% of their time to developing their people.
What about the other 40%? Whether you are a sales manager or senior vice president, you need to spend time reviewing and reflecting on the pipeline, sales numbers, and strategy. If you’re a senior sales leader and have a target of 15% organic growth over the next two years, you need to figure out how to make that happen.
Here’s the rub. You’re busy all the time. You have a lot of plates spinning in the air and nothing can drop.
So here’s the counter-intuitive solution for being the best sales leader you can be. Make time to be reflective about strategy, about performance, about what’s working and what isn’t. If you think shutting your » Continue Reading.
There’s no denying that sales leaders have a tough job. The span of responsibility encompasses selling, coaching, setting strategy, driving the business, and hitting sales targets through the efforts of others. As a sales leader, you have to be inspirational, energetic, and take an interest in your people.
Job #1 as a Sales Leader: Developing Your People
In my previous post, Why is sales leadership so tough? And what to do about it, I talked about devoting 60% of your time as a sales leader to developing your people. Now I want talk in more detail about what this entails.
Be the boss you wish you had Just about every person I talk to has a story about a bad boss. For me, it was a senior leader at a company I worked for years ago. He was the nicest person to you in public, but when alone with him, he became someone else entirely. He would chew you up and spit you out without hesitation. What I learned from him is that I never want to be that kind of boss. He was the anti-boss, and I decided to be the opposite. Manage up or manage out Your sales professionals need several things to improve their performance. They need training. They need ongoing coaching. They need to be measured. If a seller continues to fall short—if you know and they know they aren’t going to » Continue Reading.
Sales leadership must be one of the toughest jobs in business. Just plug the term into Google, and more than 30 million results come back in about a half-second. You’ll find articles from Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Salesforce.com, and many, many others. They relay advice about the most effective habits of sales leaders, the characteristics of true sales leaders, the difference between sales leadership and sales management, and leadership behaviors that drive sales force improvement.
My advice? Read them. Not all 30 million. And not as a steady diet. But, if you are or aspire to be a sales leader, and you want to continually improve your performance, you should be well read on the topic of sales leadership.
I know firsthand about the trials of being a sales leader because I was one earlier in my career. It is a definite challenge, especially for those leading and managing change initiatives. Time and again, we at Richardson hear feedback like this from our clients:
“The most important lesson learned from this training program is the value of having executive-level support. From the CEO to the COO to the division presidents, [we have] unanimous support and vocal champions for the consultative selling approach.”1
“…the Sales VP championed what was the beginning of [our] Foundational Sales Program, an initiative to gain consistency across all sales teams in language, process, skills, and attainment of the five core competencies the company deemed most important.”2