Coaching Sales Behaviours – Top question from Google
How do you coach a sales person?
Unfortunately like sales there is no one way to coach a sales person that works every time. After all sales people are all individuals and therefore different so what works with one, may not work with the next.
With that said there are many commonalities and examples of best practice that will get you started on the path to success.
- Mindset. Success in sales like many other areas in life is hugely dependant on mindset. Confidence, self belief, imposter syndrome, phone fear and self sabotage are all to common in sales people. With the right support these problems can be overcome, however, there is one area of mindset that many ignore – hunger. The best sales people are all hungry. Hungry to learn, hungry to help others and hungry for their own success. Whilst Vision Boards and Goal setting undoubtedly have a positive impact if the sales person you are coaching is not hungry for their own success you have a major problem. Many sales people ended up in sales by accident and many sales people are simply stuck in their current role and find it easier to stay than move on. Research from the Objective Management Group shows that between Sales Management & HR, 77% of sales hires are the wrong people. You can teach strategy, you can teach skills, but you can’t teach hunger.
- Planning. Many companies and sales managers lack the time to implement personal development plans to their sales teams. Coaching often then becomes ad hoc, unstructured which in turn is reflected in the outcomes. In order for sales coaching to be successful and deliver an ROI, some simple planning needs to take place. In our experience it’s always best to work backwards from the objectives and tasks that the business need to happen. From there managers should document the skills required to successfully complete the tasks, followed by a GAP analysis, highlighting where the sales people are now, versus where they need to be. Lastly, this should all be documented and progress tracked to show the benefit for both the business and the coachee.
- Focus. When coaching sales people it’s important to find a balance between what should be done and what can be done. Rather than giving sales people 3-4 different objectives after the coaching, we have always found it best to only give the coachee one objective to complete before the next session. This allows the sales rep to focus on one skill and perfect it before moving on to the next. A laundry list of objectives is rarely completed to any level of competency that the business would desire.
- Data. It’s important for sales coaching to be both objective and fair in order for it to be successful. Where possible we therefore always advocate a data led approach. Data demonstrating the success and best practice of others is difficult for sales reps to deny. This in turn leads to the importance of CRM in any sales organisation, as this is where the majority of data resides.
- Coaches. For obvious reasons coaching is different to management, so a sales coach cannot force a sales rep to do anything in terms of the outcomes of each session. Conversely, if Sales Managers are doing the coaching then they can instruct the sales people to do things, however, if the manager has to “tell” the coachee what to do, then there is typically a problem with the mindset and any success will be limited.
At Klozers our Sales Performance coaching uses Sales Scorecards, which ensure accountability for the students. This is first used to identify a baseline, which is used to kick start and structure the sales coaching. To be effective, sales coaching should look at sales in a holistic manner. This will include addressing the all the key components of sales success, which are Mindset, Sales Craft, Activity and Development.
All successful sales people have the right mindset for success. Throughout a sales career, it is impossible to achieve success on every call or presentation. As such, salespeople need to be resilient and bounce back from rejection. Controlling our mind is a hugely important part of a successful career in sales.
We can use simple Vision Boards to identify personal and business goals. Once these have been identified it’s important to draw a correlation between the two which helps ensure sales people are focussed on the goals of the business not just their own.
Craft covers the key sales skills and competencies required to be a successful sales professional. Most modern sales roles require a huge variety of sales skills, some of which are forever changing given the fast paced nature of sales and marketing.
Activity covers the important aspects of preparation, goals, sales planning and sales actions. Development covers an ongoing commitment to improving sales learning. Reflecting on past performance is an important aspect of this section. At regular intervals it is important that salespeople reflect on their performance and use this to adapt their techniques or seek additional coaching or training.
Often when reflecting, salespeople and most sales managers tend to focus on the negative aspects of performance (e.g. the bits that didn’t quite work), but it is equally as important to reflect on the positives. If a certain sales pitch has been successful, then salespeople should reflect on what went well, and how that can be implemented in other sales pitches.
Sales coaching can be conducted online or in person, in a group setting or on a 1-2-1 basis. Regardless of the delivery method, the same coaching models are used.
How do you coach an underperforming sales person?
Sales coaching can motivate and enthuse an underperforming sales professional or team more widely. People are hard wired to resist change, and as such sales coaches need to be mindful of this and adapt their coaching methods to suit.
With that said, if you have an underperforming sales person you should follow this process (dependant on the HR laws in your country of residence).
- Via a one to one meeting have an open and honest conversation with the sales rep around why the business thinks they are underperforming and what will happen if it continues. In most cases this does not necessarily mean they will lose their job. It could mean they have to retake initial training or have additional coaching. Every situation will vary but it’s important to have this conversation.
- Work with the sales rep to understand the root cause of the problem and once you have done this work with them to develop an action plan that will help them overcome their current performance gap. It’s important to include the sales rep in the planning to get their buy in. The plan should detail the responsibilities of the sales rep and the level of performance required.
- Lastly, the company and the sales manager should do all they possibly can to help and support the sales rep throughout the coaching period. This includes reviewing their own management and leadership style.
In some cases the sales rep may have already mentally checked out as no one wants to stay in a role that they are not performing in. In some cases, however, it is possible to turn results around and it’s always worth the investment in time and training given how much it costs to replace a sales person.
What is the key to coaching a successful sales team?
The key to coaching a successful sales team is ensuring that there is a culture of learning and growing throughout the team. In order to feed that culture you will require a continuous programme of training and coaching in place. There is no quick fix to achieving the best results.
As identified earlier, one-off sales training courses may have a short-term impact, but after only 30 days its success will ware off. As such, a continuous programme of professional development needs to be in place.
Employees want to feel valued by their employers, and now expect employers to contribute towards their professional development.
Without this in place, there is a concern that your best salespeople will look for other jobs. Recruiting new staff is a resource heavy and expensive process, and you still may end up with the wrong sales staff.
Hiring the wrong sales staff can have direct (lost sales) and indirect (damage to your brand) consequences for your company, so retaining the best staff is vital.
Sales coaching techniques
Sales coaches can use a range of techniques, and some coaches prefer certain techniques more than others. Whichever technique is used, sales coaching should be driven by data and be as factual as possible.
To be effective sales coaching should question the students, and a mixture of directive, non directive and collaborative style questioning can be used.
After sales coaching has been conducted it is important to measure the effectiveness of the coaching to see if it has delivered a suitable ROI.
If the sales coaching isn’t providing to be effective, then amendments will need to be made to it, either in the form of its content, delivery or programme.
Sales coaching models
There is a wide range of sales coaching models available, however, at Klozers we use either the PEDAL model which is Directive Coaching or the GROW model. The easiest way to explain the differences are:
PEDAL – Directive in style. Solving someone’s problem for them.
GROW – Non Directive in style. Helping someone solve their own problem.
In the PEDAL model the process is:
P = Position. The coach positions the reasoning/need for a new sales skill or sales process.
E = Explain. The coach explains how the new skills work.
D = Demonstrates. The coach demonstrates how to execute the new sales skills.
A = Assess. The sales professional practices the new skill and the coach assesses their competency and provides feedback.
L = Links. The coach then links the new skill to the sales reps role and key objectives.
The PEDAL coaching model is commonplace in areas where the correct execution of a skill is paramount and no choice is allowed. For example, when sales professionals need to comply with regulatory procedures, or when sales people need to follow a prove sales process.
But what does the GROW model involve?
GROW stands for:
G = Goal. What are the salespersons goals for the session?
R = Reality. What is the current reality?
O = Obstacles. What obstacles are holding the salesperson or team back?
W = Way. What way and actions do you commit to taking to move forward?
Sales Performance Coaching
Selecting the right sales coach is an important step towards improving the sales performance in your team. Quota carrying sales managers can often be swamped by their own workloads, leaving them with little time to fully dedicate towards coaching sales behaviours.
In these circumstances, to avoid missed opportunities and good staff leaving, external sales coaching could be the answer. Our expert coaches at Klozers can help you with all of your sales coaching and training needs.