I just finished delivering yet another two-day Sales Leadership Intensive where we teach sales leaders the proper way to coach up their salespeople. My team has delivered dozens of these two-day programs this year and whether they take place at private, corporate events, or at the limited public events, there are ten common themes we observe early on day one:
- The majority of these sales leaders were not conducting much coaching at all
- When they were coaching, it was to help with price or technical aspects, not to coach to opportunities or for development purposes
- Our approach to coaching is well beyond their capabilities
- They have trouble viewing sales coaching through a sales management lens, preferring instead to view coaching through a sales lens
- Most of the sales strategies and sales tactics are new to them
- A structured, staged sales process is new to them
- There is a tendency for them to protect the status quo of continuing to provide coaching on demand
- Their salespeople don’t know how to sell on anything other than price
- Their salespeople are taking a transactional, rather than consultative approach to selling
- Their salespeople are not effectively differentiating themselves from their competition.
One fact about coaching salespeople is that it is simply impossible to coach them to take a consultative, value-based approach to selling until you personally have that capability yourself. And if you lack active listening skills, good questioning skills, or have weaknesses in your Sales Management DNA where strengths need to be in place, it’s even more difficult.
For many sales leaders, mastering the ability to coach salespeople requires that to a certain degree, they must go back to school and learn how to sell consultatively before they can coach others to sell that way. This extends the amount of time it takes before the sales leaders are having a positive impact on the results their teams can achieve.
Fortunately, by the end of day one, things always take a turn for the better. After reviewing and discussing four recordings of actual coaching conversations, coaching one of their own salespeople overnight, they return for day two with mostly positive experiences about their first attempt at proper coaching. It’s amazing how much they learn about themselves and their salespeople from that single coaching conversation.
By the end of day two, after listening to four more recordings, they are recognizing patterns, predicting next questions, getting the hang of the process for conducting a proper debrief of a sales call, understanding how weaknesses sabotage salespeople and sales opportunities, identifying correct sales management lessons learned and drinking the Kool-Aid.
- It’s a remarkable 24-hour turnaround!
- Have they mastered coaching? Not yet.
- Have they mastered consultative selling? Not yet.
- Have they mastered sales process? Not yet.
- Have they mastered selling value? Not yet.
- Are they still uncomfortable? For sure.
At the same time, they are committed to pushing through their discomfort, practicing what they learned, accepting one-on-one coaching from us, and changing their approach to sales leadership and coaching.
They are encouraged, enthusiastic, positive and anxious to apply what they learned, start coaching their salespeople each day, and impacting sales in a positive way. After all, if they can simply get each of their salespeople to be just 10% better – a very conservative improvement – that will result in a 33% increase in revenue and for most leaders and companies, that is a miracle in the making.