The primary role of any sales manager as the leader of the team is to put them in a position to be as successful as the sales reps can be. That’s the part of the sales enablement role- to make them more effective. What should happen with sales coaching is the same thing I’ve preached with the hiring process, and the onboarding process, to build some structure into it to make it more effective. We all need help, we all need coaching, we all need the development and adding a little structure to it is going to put you in a better position to coach your team then sort of winging it.
What we’re going to cover:
- Beyond the onboarding process.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses.
- Role playing exercises.
- Continuous Coaching.
Setting the stage.
“It’s simple if you build out your sales coaching program similar to how you built it out with sales onboarding. Minus all the other departments and the interaction of other people, but you build it around your one on one interaction with your sales rep. Now I suggest you talk to your rep more than once or twice a week. ‘well we don’t really meet with reps unless they needed something’ Unacceptable, you need to change that, you should be interacting with them on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.”
Similar to onboarding.
“It’s very similar to sales onboarding in that you lay down the track, you lay down the plan, you put it in the calendar, and you build out that weekly schedule. What you end up with is something that’s a little more consistent, so that they know that this is their coaching time.”
“I’m going to say this about scheduling: things come up. One of the things we tend to do when we look at our schedule and we’re trying to bump things out to make room for meetings, or appointments is we’ll bump things like training or coaching. And I would say that like any other meeting-it’s set in stone. It should stay on the calendar as a meeting, you wouldn’t cancel a meeting, right?”
Add tools to the mix.
“You’re involving more than just yourself. There might be some training modules that the manufacturer provides and I would suggest that you go through them and you pick what you need. There’s all kinds of things you can use to enable them (reps) to get better. One of the things I do is I send them away with homework, because I want them to be involved and get back to me and I want to see that they’re committed.”
Involve the mentor.
“If the mentor is a part of your process you can still coach a rep beyond their meetings and discussions with the mentor. So, don’t feel like you have to wait until the mentor’s time is up. And the mentor scheduling can be before hours or it could be later in the afternoon or early evening before they shut down their day, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the prime of the selling day. The same with the coaching.”
Beyond the onboarding process.
Coaching starts at onboarding.
“It starts at the onboarding process, you setting the stage, and you’re setting the stage on how you’re going to operate with this person. Why is that important? Because there’s not a lot of that being done in the sales world today. Not a lot of coaching in a way that is structured and built properly. So, what happens is people come through the onboarding and then they’re unleashed on the world. And their managers are saying ‘we’ll meet once a week, we’ll talk about your pipeline, and we’ll move on’ but that’s not healthy. If you do that you really don’t have a pulse on your team and you can’t address the things that they need help with”
Continues beyond onboarding.
“It continues way past the onboarding, it’s part of the development process, it’s part of the cooperate culture.”
Building on what they learned.
“You’re building on what they’ve learned except now you’re doing it in live opportunities. In the beginning with onboarding there weren’t that many live opportunities to sink your teeth into, now their bringing stuff to the table or they’re getting inbound leads that are live opportunities, that’s your opportunity to do some real quality coaching. That’s the important part, that you can really get a pulse on how good your sales rep is. Where they need help by working with them on deals.”
Identify strengths and weaknesses.
“We do the candidate assessment when they go through the process and they get hired, in that assessment there’s information on their skill sets. Tells you what they can do, tells you what they can’t do. You can also convert that into a full-blown sales assessment because we have two, we have a candidate assessment and we have a sales rep assessment. As part of the process you just request the sales rep assessment once you’ve hired somebody and that conversion is free. It’s a little bit more in detailed document. So, let’s say you’ve analyzed your existing team you’ll see right away where their strengths and weaknesses are.”
“Where are they now? Where do you want them to do? That’s going to drive the plan okay? So, let’s do something simple. Can they articulate your value prop, can they handle objections? How are they at closing?”
Room for adjustment.
“You build the schedule around that, and then you make room for adjustment. Why do we make room for adjustment? Well let’s say they’re involved in a deal and they’re struggling. And your coaching session is working on closing but they’re having a problem with objections- deal with the objections. I’m not saying get off track every week but sometimes it happens. Leave yourself room for that adjustment, don’t be too rigid but be rigid enough that they get what they need for long term success.”
Role playing exercises.
Make them fun.
“Don’t underestimate the value of role playing exercises. I think they’re fantastic, there’s some people that are very uncomfortable with them, and they’re usually uncomfortable because the exercise itself is stupid. So, don’t make them stupid, make them fun.”
“First of all it’s ongoing, it should happen all the time, and it’s deal related. You’re focusing on specific deals and you’re combing in to your coaching. For example, if you’re doing a coaching call and you’re focusing on qualifying you can use the deal as an opportunity to role play that.”
What if scenarios?
“What if scenarios are great ‘what if they say this, what if they do that?’ you start throwing curve balls at them, serious curve-balls, not silly ones, and get them to give feedback on that. Because like I said before I had manager who was good at this. We would role-play exercises around the room as a team and we would role-play individually before a coaching call, we would role play in the car on the way to appointments, and it worked. It worked well.”
Already set the stage.
“You’ve set the stage because you hired somebody, you’ve taken them through the onboarding process, you’ve combed in a sales mentor, you’ve combed in the coaching, now it’s just normal, it’s part of the daily routine.”
Coaching changes over time.
“It changes over time because you can access more tools. When we’re talking about sales enablement what are we really talking about? Giving them back the time to do the things that they need to do to sell while at the same time positioning them to be as successful as they can possibly be. And what that means is better tools, better use of the tools, better access, less administrative overhead, and tasks for them while enhancing their skill sets. And the coaching portion can involve all of that.”
“It changes over time, right? So, it can evolve, it can be a continuous thing, you can go back and reassess somebody after a year, see where they are, it’s a great opportunity to review.”
“One of the things I love about it is it reduces slumps. Here’s the deal if you’re working with them on pipeline and you’re meeting with them on a regular basis, you’re going to recognize that before they recognize that it’s coming, or it’s a problem. So you can nip it in the bud and reduce the number of slumps that sales reps are having. It’s a great way to create long term success and consistency.”
Keep Filling The Funnel
We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover. You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at email@example.com. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.