Making Your Sales Coaching Actually Beneficial for Reps
Research has proven time and again that even though sales managers recognize that sales coaching is important, most of them don’t intentionally set aside time for coaching. Therein lies the problem: time. Many sales managers lament that they just don’t have the time to coach as much as they should.
However, sales coaching doesn’t have to be incredibly time consuming. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Sales coaching should already be integrated into your everyday sales practices so that a coaching culture becomes second nature. Fortunately, there is an abundance of available tactics to make the sales coaching process more efficient.
It’s tempting to forego the step of goal-setting in favor of saving time, though the truth is that working towards a well-defined goal is often much more efficient than just jumping into a project headfirst. Sure, your reps know how to swim, but where are they off to? When is their chance to come up for air? What are they working toward?
RAIN Group President Mike Schultz explains that goal-setting allows reps to “tap into their purpose” and “maximize sales energy, focus, and engagement.” No more floundering around.
Goals are nice but are often most effective when paired with action plans, which is next on Mike Schultz’s list of 5 roles of high-performing sales coaches. Action plans don’t only help your performance by increasing productivity, but they also, like the goals they accompany, make the sales process go by quickly and efficiently.
We all operate on a plan of action on some level to accomplish what we need to do each day. For some of us, the action plan is quite literally an action plan, like the diagram of a to-do list on the whiteboard behind my desk right now.
For others, it may just be knowing what step they’re going to next as they continue along their way. In whatever case, there should be an action plan for each coachee to reach their goals so that coaching produces swift results.
What more efficient way to coach than before the mistake that requires coaching? That’s right, by coaching proactively, you can catch issues before they cause problems, which simplifies the coaching process into a more preventative strategy. Proactive coaching will save you time in the long run, and you won’t lose valuable time--for coaching or otherwise--to emergencies.
Be sure that your coaching process includes consistent and continuous monitoring, often simplified by productivity analysis software so that you can catch coaching opportunities before they turn into extensive re-training sessions.
Motivate Your Team
Goals and the actions taken to complete them are clearly correlated with individual motivation. You can coach all you want, but if your team isn’t motivated, coaching won’t do them much good, as is evidenced by any particular sports analogy, fictional or otherwise.
However, everyone is motivated differently, so you won’t always be able to motivate with simple bonus checks. You have to understand the individual motives of each of your reps. This familiarity must be an outpouring of positive workplace culture, not all sunshine and rainbows, but low-stress enough that shields are down and you can notice what makes each rep tick.
This doesn’t mean creating a separate incentive program for every employee, but it does mean understanding that motivation is not a one-time speech or personal project. Motivation includes small, positive encouragements each day for the salesperson to reach their full potential.
The productivity benefits of a well-motivated team are aptly described by Schultz, who explains that when properly motivated by a quality coach, “a seller is able to sustain high levels of energy and action over long periods of time.”
Choose Your Coaching Moments
Understanding your team’s flow, work habits, and statistics is an ongoing part of coaching, mostly observatory. The primary action of coaching doesn’t have to take place in a meeting or formal session--though it could if needed.
The point is that certain aspects of coaching are ongoing, but the coaching itself does not need to be constant. The reasons for this are obvious: while you should have time for coaching, you don’t have time to consult with every single one of your reps in a personalized coaching session.
Ago Cluytens, Practice Director of EMEA, describes coaching as “a scalpel, not a hacksaw,” meaning that coaching is best used with “specific individuals, in specific situations, with specific outcomes in mind.” That’s right. Outcomes, also known as goals. Accomplished with what now? That’s right, action plans! It’s all coming together now.
Coaching is a dynamic process with a lot of interrelated aspects, but just because it has intricacies doesn’t mean it has to eat up all of your time. Stay organized, be proactive, motivate your team, and choose your prime coaching moments so that both you and your reps can sell at their best.