The recent organizational environment has seen sales teams struggle with unqualified leads, missed sales goals, lost opportunities and lower sales and revenues. Enterprises everywhere are trying to understand what can be done to fill this gap.
Post training, if there was no coaching or reinforcement activity, there was a drop off of 87% of the knowledge acquired. That’s a waste of 87 cents on every dollar spent on formal development efforts.
What is it that needs to be added to current programs that can boost sales for companies?
One common mistake most of these organizations might be making is a failure to invest and give due recognition to the importance of coaching. We see managers and leaders around us who are way too busy to be coaching as they don’t have the time, tools, resources or aren’t sure what sales coaches actually need to do.
There are no schools to earn degrees in selling as a skill like this is only developed on the field through experience. Though sales training is extremely critical in achieving this, most training efforts do not fail to achieve their goals because they completely neglect coaching as a vital element of it. For all of us at some point, some sort of hand-holding and personal touch by a superior has mattered to us. And sales is a field that definitely requires handholding from time to time, to bring out the best in everyone.
Here are a few tips to help you become the best coaches –
Align goals to business objectives
Any activity without an end goal usually ends up being poorly planned and delivered with poor half-hearted execution. Focus and improved performance requires aiming towards achieving certain goals at the end of each task. And managers need to help sellers define such goals and strategies, goals which are realistic and achievable. Managers also need to explain the company’s strategy clearly to executives so that they have a clear direction of which way to head and what exactly is expected out of them. And it is not just about setting goals, but also being present to check the progress, provide guidance wherever required and offer motivation boosts to let things take off.
The average company can expect a return of 7 times the initial investment in coaching.
~ International Coach Federation
One of the biggest misconceptions that sales managers have about coaching is that coaching is telling others what to do – and this mostly includes telling them things that they did in similar situations. This might work from a motivational perspective but might not really be extremely helpful in charting success paths for others. Every person is unique and so are the ways they would understand a problem. The best coaches work with their people to understand their unique issues and then work together towards what can be done to get past the problems and achieve sales objectives. Asking exploratory questions is a necessity in this regard as it shifts the focus towards the sales person, rather than concentrating on glorifying on the past success of the manager.
Sales reps who receive just three hours of coaching a month exceed their goals by 7%, boosting revenue by 25% and increasing the average close rate by 70%.
~ The Corporate Executive Board Company
See beyond the numbers
Sales is all about the numbers. Everyone is running after their own numeric goals of making closes and closing invoices. There is nothing wrong with it, but there needs to be a balance. If numbers are all sales people worry about, a lot of pressure automatically gets created and a lot of scope for increasing sales performance gets lost somewhere. Most sales discussions are usually about “When is the next deal closing?” or “What is the status of the contract?” There is no harm in asking such questions but it shouldn’t become the only focus. There is a lot that needs to be done before, in between and after a sale. Sales coaches need to focus on these intermediate levels too.
Build an atmosphere of trust
Successful sales coaches are those who are not just good at what they do, but also who are extremely understanding of people they work with. Such people not only ensure that their executives learn, but also help harbor a collaborative environment with mutual trust, respect and a sense of belonging. Your relationship with your subordinates should be such that they look up to you, respect you and also speak up and let you know about any issues that might be troubling them. Open communication and honesty can create ways to retain your talent, as they will feel wanted, appreciated and cared for, and help advance reps career and strengthen their morale.
We live in a world dominated by technology, content and usage of mobile devices. Sales as a job is always on the go and a variety of technology like gamification, learning tools, curated content from top marketplaces, all on their mobile phones. The sales training programs that companies organize should offer feedback for managers and sales reps so that they know what is lacking or what needs to be included.
Manager participation is needed at every step of the training cycle and also utilize tools to have a clear understanding of key sales metrics and activities that signify success. Sales effectiveness also needs to be measured by looking at the performance of the sales team. This would mean keeping accurate records of both individuals as well as group performance and comparing that across the entire team set standards or expectations.
Have anything to add? Please feel free to let us know in the comments!