successA colleague of mine from Miller Heiman surveyed a number of sales managers by asking how much true coaching they have done in the last 60 days. The shocking truth? Three-quarters of these managers admit they only coach sporadically and say that coaching time just isn’t a priority. Companies that rely on sales and customer service teams understand that improving sales coaching skills is an investment worth making. However, simply having your management team dedicate sales training time and sales coaching to your sales team will not be enough if you neglect some key facets of sales coaching, which were highlighted in a Bloomberg Businessweek article that profiled a sales technique called “Hypothesis-Based Coaching.”
Filling in the Sales Coaching Gaps…
When an organization invests in sales coaching, there still may be missed opportunities and gaps in the sales training that could lead to improved conversion rates, higher revenue, and better sales forecasting. When examining your sales coaching program, therefore, it’s worth noting some key factors, that, if neglected, could be diminishing your sales coaching return on investment (ROI).
Make sure your coaching training is specific to the task at hand.
When it comes to sales coaching, once size does not fit all. Does your sales coaching approach fit with your company culture? Your brand? How about the unique personalities that are in your organization? Simply applying an off-the-shelf, blanket approach methodology for your sales coaching team is not going to maximize the effectiveness of your sales training program. Therefore, when looking at your sales training content, don’t just hand it over to your managers and give them the green light; spend time evaluating your organization and your sales goals. Tailor your sales training content effectively based on who you are as a company and where you want to go.
Sales coaching never ends.
Coaching your sales team is a bit like filling up your car; it’s an ongoing process if you expect to keep driving. Sales team coaching validates an employees’ job performance, and needs to be continuously done with a balance of praising and correcting. Unlike dedicated sales training events and workshops, sales coaching is a constant job that requires careful attention and a strong relationship between the managing staff and the employees.
Coaching your sales team is not a performance evaluation.
Sales coaching is an ongoing process, but this doesn’t mean that your management should take the liberty to use their day-to-day sales training monitoring as an excuse to throw in performance evaluations. There is a time and place for performance evaluations, and these should be structured meetings that are meant to provide specific feedback and guidance so that your sales team can hit certain markers and goals to understand how they are performing overall. In contrast, daily sales coaching is the interaction that management has with the sales team to advise the team on best practices and offer feedback.
The coaching program requires coaching.
Your sales coaching program needs to be adapted company-wide and have infrastructure behind it to support it – it should not be done in a vacuum, in other words. Progressive organizations monitor and measure their coaching effectiveness and engage all levels of management to make sure that coaching becomes a part of the culture – not just a trend that ripples through.
Sales techniques can become outdated. Teach to the current trends.
With the pace of technological change that’s occurring, sales training methodologies that worked well in the early 2000s (when your managers may have been trained), don’t necessarily apply to today. Sales evolve, just as industries do. Is your company up-to-date on the latest trends? Does your sales team truly understand your customer and your customer’s needs? Sales coaching needs to be implemented with an awareness of the full picture – both within your company’s unique culture, and externally, to the industries your team is servicing and the types of customers you are targeting.
Investing in sales coaching and working closely with your sales team are great steps, but make sure you plug the holes and fill in those gaps fully by tailoring your sales coaching process so that you get true ROI out of your training investment.
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