Category Archives: Sales Coaching Training
Move over, baby boomers. You too, Gen Xers. In 2015, millennials became the largest segment of the American workforce, with more than one in three workers being from this generation. Figuring out how to train a multigenerational sales team presents unique challenges for sales leaders, but understanding the difference between generational learning styles will help you be more effective.
There have always been differences in age and experience levels across sales organizations, from recent graduates to those nearing retirement. This presents a business imperative and an opportunity to identify the differences and similarities in learning and communication styles and the implications for coaching and training a multigenerational sales team.
Understanding the Learning Styles of Generations in the Workforce
These days, there can be up to four generations in the workforce. Connecting and communicating successfully across this generational spectrum can strain the ability of sales leaders and those in Learning and Development. The starting point is knowing your audience:
1. Traditionalists (those born before 1945): Generally speaking, most workers in this generation are strongly committed to their organizations. They value teamwork, collaboration, and the development of interpersonal skills. Their learning style is commensurate with these characteristics: they like teamwork and collaboration in the classroom.
2. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): Boomers tend to be very competitive and are success-driven. They look for professional growth, are receptive to change, and consider training to be one » Continue Reading.
Building rapport is a fundamental component of any client or prospect interaction. However, it still tends to get overlooked, even though it is a key element in establishing and expanding relationships. Rapport is the first step in Relating, which with Presence, Questioning, Listening, Positioning, and Checking, forms Richardson’s Six Critical Skills for effective client dialogues.
Building rapport is where sales professionals break the ice with prospects. Because this is often associated with chitchat and social graces, few sales professionals really prepare when building rapport. They take the Popeye approach: “I yam what I yam.” As a result, they miss the opportunity to differentiate themselves and make an important connection.
Building rapport with a sales prospect can be established or thwarted in minutes. And, contrary to popular belief, it is not all about being warm and fuzzy. Sometimes you are able to break that wall down, and sometimes you cannot, but I always try. It can be difficult when you don’t have a genuine connection with clients. How many times are you going to talk about the weather? You also don’t want to sound bored or like you are faking conversation.
This does not mean that without rapport, you will never win the business. It just makes interactions more difficult or awkward. You risk not having a champion, so there will be no one to advocate for you on the client side.
How do you win over clients if » Continue Reading.
The B2B buying process has changed considerably in recent years, thanks to digital and social technologies. But, the one constant that can open doors or shut them forever is how well the sales professional performs in the moment of human interaction with the buyer.
Because the sale is truly made in those moments in front of the prospect and in the execution of compelling customer dialogues, there is still a great need for improvement in this area among salespeople:
Only one in ten executives say that they get value from meetings with salespeople. (Forrester Research) The #1 reason salespeople miss quota is an inability to articulate value. (Sirius Decisions) Only 17% of salespeople get a second meeting with an executive. (Forrester Research)
These numbers could be significantly improved if sales leaders coached their teams to the desired behaviors necessary for engagement.
The impact of sales coaching has proven its value time and again. According to Forrester Research, in 2014, 63.2% of organizations with a formal sales coaching methodology achieved quota vs. 54.6% of organizations without coaching. Additionally, only 27% of organizations reported having a formal coaching methodology in place.
From the salesperson’s perspective, the Amabile Study (Harvard University, 2010) found that salespeople are more motivated when they make progress and grow. This speaks to the outcome of coaching, which supports the personal and professional development of those being coached.
Additionally, in 2009, the Gallup Organization reported that top » Continue Reading.
Move away from the computer and coach
Time is a limited and much sought-after resource in the sales environment, especially for sales managers who are being tasked to do more with less. Taking the time for coaching sales professionals can seem like an unrealistic luxury, but the time invested can create greater gains and even more time for the manager. We all struggle with making time to coach so that you have to create a cadence.
There are a few secrets that I have found that can improve your sales coaching techniques and make coaching easier and more effective. The first is discipline. As a sales manager, I disciplined myself to make time for “in-the-moment” coaching every single day.
Each morning, I would walk over to the office or workspace of each of my employees. I said, “Good Morning,” and then asked them three questions:
What was their plan for the day? How were they doing? Was there anything that required my immediate attention or that they needed my help with today?
The whole process took about 20 to 35 minutes. It helped me manage my time, coach my people, and deliver on expectations.
I could tell what I needed to do to coach them in the moment by how they answered the questions. This process surfaced urgent items that needed processing, challenges with a client, any lack of focus, attitudes that were forming, and any performance » Continue Reading.
In my previous blog post, I talked about the need to find time for sales coaching moments. One of the greatest myths that sales managers have about coaching their teams is that it takes too much time. Yes, coaching conversations do take time, but when done right, with the right structure and preparation, coaching can be the most effective use of a sales manager’s time. And, it can actually create more time for sales managers, as they find themselves putting out fewer fires. When sales professionals have the skills and the confidence to operate well independently, they become more responsible and accountable for their own results.
In reality, too many managers commit to coaching without a plan. They can spend hours on one coaching session, trying to get the sales professional to change a
handful of things, overwhelming him/her with a data dump of information.
At Richardson, our target for developmental sales coaching is to focus on one, maybe two, changes that can have the most effective impact. Considering that most people can only change one thing at a time and attention spans continue to shrink, a targeted approach to coaching is better received. Short sessions — 20 minutes or less — can be highly effective. Praise alone takes just a few minutes.
When sales managers don’t take the time to coach, they end up doing more work themselves. They either correct mistakes made by their » Continue Reading.
What Do You Really Expect from Your Front-line Sales Managers? Do They Know It?
Anyone who has climbed the ranks of a sales organization can appreciate the complexity of the front-line sales manager’s job. It is usually the most critical position in any sales organization and can make the difference in determining success or failure. So, reach out to your sales managers today, and ask them this: “Name the two most important things we pay you to do.” If their answers don’t align with your expectations, then it’s time for some course correction.
Great sales managers are not always top-ranked salespeople. Clearly, the job requires an above-average level of selling skills, but it also requires a unique blend of multiple skills. It can be like wearing the hats of coach, parent, counselor, advisor, sounding board, and psychiatrist, all at once. The job gets more complicated because of its location in the corporate food chain. A sales manager is caught between the front line, client-facing salespeople, and upper management. Many times, the view of reality on the front line varies greatly from that in the ivory tower. Successful navigation within this food chain can be challenging, even for the most successful sales managers.
So, what are sales managers’ primary points of focus? There are many things to expect from sales managers, but none are more important than these two:
To drive results To develop people
Which » Continue Reading.
Let’s Make a Deal. New Research Reports that Best-In-Class Sales Coaching Can Shorten Your Sales Cycle
Richardson recently partnered with the Aberdeen Group to provide their newest research study that looks at how adding real-deal sales coaching elements to training activities achieves better business results in today’s competing market place. The research report analyzed the specific competencies around the more in-depth sales coaching tools that help shrink the sales cycle window for the most successful sales operations teams.
The study reveals several key findings, including:
Best-in-class organizations are 26% more likely than all others to move beyond the basic, generic training on products, pricing, and messaging, to a formal one-on-one coaching methodology that is specific to individual needs in the pipeline or key accounts. Best-in-class organizations are 61% more often turning to external consultants and trainers for assistance Best-in-class organizations lead all others by a 16% margin in promoting a culture of continuous improvement by formally engaging in win/loss activities to understand why they win or lose deals
To download Aberdeen’s full report, click here on the image below:
Three Missteps in Sales Coaching
A sales manager’s most important job is coaching. An effective sales coach can accelerate learning, change behavior, and boost the performance of both individuals and the entire sales team.
The sales coaching process we use at Richardson is both simple and effective. When followed, the results are clear. The problem is, sales coaching only works if managers do it properly.
These are three common missteps we see in sales coaching:
Telling vs. asking
The key to effective sales coaching can be captured in three words: they talk first.
Our coaching model is all about asking specific, neutral, open-ended questions — and then, drilling down further with more questions.
Coaching by asking allows coaches to learn about their sales teams and the situations that they face. It builds commitment and buy-in and helps sales professionals take responsibility for their own learning.
There are times when coaching by telling is appropriate, such as an urgent situation in which there is no time to do anything but quickly tell and when moving toward disciplinary action. But, this is always the exception, never the rule.
Directing vs. collaborating
If coaches remember to ask instead of tell, they often do not ask enough questions. They might start with, “What are your thoughts?” or, “How do you feel the call went?” but tend to slowly put on their manager hats and start formulating solutions and giving their opinions. In » Continue Reading.