Sales coaching has one purpose and that is to make the sales person better. It’s that simple. Coaching is about analyzing what a sales person is doing in order to enhance their skills and improve their capabilities. Considering coaching has specific outcomes their needs to be a specific process or structure to make sure the goals are achieved.
There are a million ways to coach and each sales leader has his or her own style. Style is important to coaching and shouldn’t be missed. But, style alone can’t coach. There are 3 key elements to killer coaching that can’t be ignored. They can be adopted to your style, but in order to effectively coach, a sales leader must be able to;
Observation: Great coaching starts with observation. The sales leader has to observe the behaviors, the techniques and the approaches the players on their team are engaged in. The coach has to be able to see what they sales person is doing. Great observation starts with knowing what you’re looking for. A solid understanding of selling techniques, approaches, methodologies is critical. It’s important for the coach to know what they are looking for and what is truly important, rather than getting side-tracked or caught up in superficial tactics. Having a solid understanding of the sales approach and/or sales techniques the sales person is performing is critical because it creates an expectation of what “should” be observed. As a coach, ya gotta know what you’re looking for.
Description: Once the observation is complete, sales leaders need to be able to describe what they see. They need to be able to communicate their observations to the sales person in a way the sales person can use the information. One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on what the sales person is doing, not what they aren’t doing. Keep the observations objective as possible. Rather than say; “You aren’t asking enough provoking questions,” highlight the actual observation. “I notice you ask a lot of discovery questions and then move to the pitch.”
Descriptions should contain these two elements; what you observe the sales person doing and the outcomes you observe from their actions.
Ex: “I saw that you used the banking case study, even though they aren’t a bank. When you did this, the tone of the meeting changed and the buyers body language became distant and they stopped asking as many questions. Using a case study that didn’t align with their industry started to undermine the sale and your credibility.”
Effective coaching requires you include what you see and what happened. By doing so creates an understanding of cause and effect. In order for sales people to change the effect of their behavior, they must understand the cause. Coaching that observes and then describes cause and effect is far more productive.
Prescription: Prescription is where the change comes from. If done correctly, the sales person should have a good understanding of what they are doing (cause) and the outcomes of that behavior (effect). Prescription is what the sales person needs to do to create the desired change or new effect. The coach needs to simply suggest a new approach, tactic etc that will “cause the effect.”
With sales coaching, what matters here is that the sales leader actually knows what to prescribe. As with the sales person or the person being coached, prescribing the wrong thing can be disastrous. The prescription must align with the appropriate cause and effect.
Great sales coaches should know what they are looking for when observing their team. They should have a solid understanding of sales tactics, approaches and methodologies in order to identify and label the correct team behaviors. Once they’ve completed their observation they need to describe what they see as objectively as possible, focusing on what is really going on. Finally, they have to have the ability to prescribe changes that will create new behaviors which will create the change in outcomes they and the sales person is looking for.
In the end coaches can have a million different styles. They can adopt their own methodologies for change, but regardless of their style and teaching approaches, coaches must be able to observe, describe and prescribe or everything else is a waste of time.
Incorporate these three elements into your coaching and watch the improvement sky rocket!