When it comes to sales coaching, where should you start?
“How do I know where to coach my sales team?” is a common sales coaching challenge I hear. It's a good question. As sales leaders we’ve got a small amount of time to have a big impact on the performance of our team. We want to be smart and helpful with it. Here’s six things to consider when asking yourself this question.
Are you coaching the character? Or are you coaching the process?
When we think about effective sales coaching, as leaders we often jump to coaching the process, which usually involves coaching sales calls, sales demos or coaching how a rep is ‘working’ their opportunities. However, when we jump straight to the process, we miss an important part of where we should spend our coaching time.
Brett Ledbetter gave a Ted talk in 2014 which explains what he learnt through studying America’s top basketball coaches.
“The best coaches care less about the result, focus more on the process, but recognise that character fuels the process”
In the world of sales, here’s an example of what that might look like:
Question: What percentage of the time are you spending coaching the process vs the character?
Start by drawing an empty version of the grid above, thinking about your sales team and sales process. Write down the key parts of your process and what characteristics make a great salesperson on your team. You’ll likely notice the connection between the two columns. For example, your best appointment bookers will probably score highly on grit and organization.
Work with your individual sales reps to understand how they’d order their characteristics by strength. What can they tell you about their strengths vs their weaknesses? Is there a connection between their weaker characteristics and where they need to improve within the sales process?
Focusing attention on character building in your coaching conversations is the best place to start. Remember execution of the process is only as good as the fuel that's powering it. Without this fuel, the process will only get you so far.
Have you tried asking your sales rep?
I’m a believer that development should be owned by the individual. What we own, we value and what could be more important than our own growth?
There are three great benefits to creating an environment where reps own their development. Firstly, they build their self awareness levels. Secondly, they’re constantly evaluating their own progress leading to their continuous growth. Thirdly, they’re tuned into their needs and therefore more self-sufficient, making them an independent member of the team rather than overly reliant on the leader for direction.
So if you’re asking yourself, “where should I coach my reps?” maybe you should first ask your reps “where should I coach you to support your development?”
Coach your new ‘move’
Like a soccer team trying a new formation against a rival team, a gymnast who's learning a new technical element or a tennis player who's learning a new hand grip technique, the very nature of the fact it's new will mean it's likely to be filled with opportunities to learn.
What's new in your team? Are you trying new messaging on your sales demos? Are you launching a new product? Are you coming up against a new set of competitors?
If it's new, you’ll not have to look too far for a coaching opportunity.
Where in the sales process are things falling down?
Your sales funnel will shine a light on an area of the process that needs your attention. Is there a part of the process where sales opportunities are stagnating? Are you losing too many deals at a particular stage? Is there a hold up getting contracts over the line?
Use these indicators to help you focus on the sales activity that's going to reveal coaching opportunities that have the biggest impact on improving your conversion rates through the funnel.
Using conversation data to support you
At Jiminny we allow you to understand the sales you win by dissecting the customer conversations that happen on the sales floor and spot the trends in the sales conversations that you win vs the sales conversations that you lose.
By understanding the ingredients of a winning sales demo or negotiation call you can create a playbook of what great looks like with each sales activity of your process and use it as the foundation for all your coaching conversations.