Whether your organization is sophisticated enough to have systematic sales training and learning for its salespeople or budget for occasional education inevitably, routinely and necessarily the sales manager has a role in coaching the sales team.
Sales managers are tasked with running the department and ensuring sales success. There is a core numbers and revenue aspect to the role. However, earnest and forward looking managers give attention to the team’s sales coaching.
This is easier said than done. Time is always an issue. There is not ever enough time in the day. There are multiple priorities. The numbers need attention, reports need to be created, understood and presented. Someone else could do it. It can wait, so on and so forth. And it is all true.
Nevertheless, sales managers need to make time for training. Here are ten bullet points on coaching in sales:
1- Allocating time to sales coaching is not neglecting the numbers. Coaching salespeople is elevating the numbers.
2- Coaching is not conducted in one way. It includes listening, asking questions, listening to answers and explanations, offering praise and understanding.
3- Coaching is better when conducted in progressive steps. If it is new or has been omitted for a while it is best that the ‘first’ time is dedicated purely to listening and open-minded learning. Only on second and third appointments the sales manager/coach may venture into offering feedback and actual training. The velocity and progression depends on the salesperson.
4- Attach coaching points to numbers and objective goals.
5- Create a schedule and stick to it. This is a matter of discipline and necessity. More importantly, it creates a non-confrontational atmosphere where coaching is part of the process and the job and not tied to any potential or recent missteps or weak achievements.
6- Allocate time for an exchange right after the side-by-side, conference call, meeting or customer visit. The points are fresh and one is not relying merely on notes and memory. Feedback and coaching happens here. Be as detailed as possible.
7- Different salespersons have different perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge them by stating them and working with them.
9- What is the plan now? There has to be actionable items between now and the next scheduled session. Have it in writing and share with the salesperson. A review of this should also be the starting point of the next scheduled coaching opportunity.
10- Commit to coaching and do not shortchange the time or process.
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