Not coaching a sales team is like putting 91 petrol into a high-performance car. It’s going to strain the engine, reduce its performance and make it less economical to run.
Coaching keeps sales teams optimised for performance. Their minds are set to win, their skills honed, and they are focused on executing your sales process—not veering off track. All up, it leads to strong, consistent sales. The kind that a growing business needs in order to scale.
However, to remain successful, sales managers need to spend at least half their time coaching. There’s just one problem: 97 per cent don’t. To add to the conundrum, only 7 per cent of sales managers have necessary skills to be an effective coach. Chances are, what coaching you’re doing (if any) is probably ineffective.
Now for the good news. Implementing a performance coaching programme for sales teams can have far-reaching gains for a company.
“We've seen clients double their business,” says Paul O’Donohue, SalesStar’s Founder and Global CEO. “Performance coaching creates really effective people and top performing teams who celebrate success. It’s an important part of creating a winning culture.”
Top sales coaching methods
There’s more than one way to coach a sales team. Here are a few of the most effective:
Running simulations in groups or one-on-one will refine your team’s skills. It’s an excellent way to practice dealing with extreme situations and difficult prospects in a safe low-stakes environment. As Paul says: “it better to practice with your peers, than on your prospects”.
There are three types of dual calls you can make:
- Demonstration call: you demonstrate and your trainee listens. You debrief together afterwards.
- Dual call: both you and your trainee do part of the call—but make sure you’re clear on who is to do what!
- Observation call: your trainee does it all, while you watch and listen. While it may be tempting to jump in, don’t.
Go out into the field with your salespeople and observe their meetings and presentations. Later debrief using some of the strategies below.
Pre-meeting and pre-call strategy
Performance coaching is also looking at individuals and getting them in the right frame of mind before a meeting or phone call.
“Get them really clear on what success looks like, what their objectives are going into the meeting and anticipating the questions the client will ask,” advises Paul.
What were the wins? What were the learnings? What would we change for the next meeting or call?
The GROW model
GROW stands for:
- Goals: what were the goals?
- Reality: what’s the current reality? How are you tracking against your goal?
- Options: what are our options? How do we get things back on track?
- Way forward: what is the way forward? What are the next steps to take?
Tip: Apply your consultative selling skills to coaching
“Telling is not selling, but it is not coaching either,” says Paul. “A good coach should be able to ask good questions and not tell.”
Just like consultative selling, a good sales coach will also use Socratic questioning to get salespeople to reflect on their learning and make their own self-discoveries.
5 tips for implementing a performance coaching programme
1. Make it formal
Less than one-third of sales organisations have a formal or dynamic coaching process. Yet, the research shows that those that do, achieve consistently higher win rates than those that don’t.
“Performance coaching is about coaching consistently with the group and individuals,” says Paul. “The best way to achieve that is to establish a formal process and rhythm.”
2. Make it dynamic
Having a formal coaching plan is the first step to creating an effective coaching programme. However, for the best results, use dynamic coaching: coaching that is based on your sales process.
“Your coaching should relate to your sales process and the skills it requires,” says Paul. “Ensuring that your salespeople can execute those skills and are effective in each part of the process is critical.”
Dynamic coaching has the most significant impact on a business. Sales organisations that use it see, on average, a 27.6 per cent improvement in win rates.
3. Discipline is key
Just like sales training, sales coaching is about discipline. If you want consistent results, incorporate it into your workplace culture and day-to-day routine. Sporadic coaching fosters inconsistent sales results.
“We recommend bringing it into sales meetings,” says Paul. “When coaching is part of your routine it holds people accountable. Start to back off and even your top performers can become complacent, and you won’t get the results you desire.”
5. Invest in tools and resources
Having the right tools and frameworks on hand is a real asset. A good coaching course can provide these.
“Most sales managers don't have the toolkit or the resources, or the know-how,” says Paul. “That’s where we come in. We develop coaching cards for our clients to use at sales meetings. We provide sales managers with tools on how to coach mindset, how to coach specific skills, and how to have one-on-ones.”
6. Learn from the best
If you are serious about becoming a sales performance coach, learn from those who have been there and done it. Real world experience far outweighs any theoretical knowledge.
“It’s really important to query a sales trainer’s credentials and coaching ability,” says Paul. “You don't want to go to an institution where you're taught by someone who has never been a coach.”