This is a follow-up article to 7 Qualities of a Great Sales Coach.
1. Great sales coaches know the value of incrementalism.
Sales skills develop over time if they’re going to last. Great sales coaches work on techniques continually to make lasting changes. That means the sales process provides the structure and the reps’ skills within the process will improve over time with proper coaching. However, without a well-defined sales process, incremental growth is difficult to achieve and requires the sales rep to possess relatively high levels of self-reliance, talent and problem-solving skills.
2. Great sales coaches know that every sales rep has potential for growth.
Without potential, there is no need for a coach. Therefore, see your sales reps as untapped potential that you must help to unleash. For example, if your rep struggles with prospecting, you must first identify if it is a sales training issue or a personal development issue. They might understand the techniques required for successful prospecting, but lack self-confidence. By developing their confidence through role-playing, cold-calling, evaluation and adjustment, you can help them develop their confidence and take another step towards their potential.
3. Great sales coaches know how to break the habit of losing by setting small, achievable goals for their reps.
Small wins help to offset defeat. If you have a sales rep who has experienced defeat, don’t allow it to derail their drive. As in the movie Top Gun, after Maverick’s wing-man “Goose” dies, his commanding officer gave the order, “Keep sending him up”. He had to get Maverick back in the cockpit and experience success in simple training maneuvers. From that, he could come back from defeat and was ready for real combat when the opportunity presented itself. Refocus your sales rep on highly targeted opportunities and do more ride-alongs to help them regain their footing to get back in the game.
4. Great sales coaches don’t allow their sales reps to play outside the bounds of their roles.
They don’t allow their reps to sell large deals outside their primary customer profile. Basing the majority of one’s sales quota on a single large deal is dangerous. In addition, they don’t allow them to sell deals smaller than their target market. Transactions too small means more sales are needed to achieve quota. This breaks the mindset that “smaller deals are easier deals”. That’s not always the case. Define your Ideal Customer Profile and keep your sales reps focused on opportunities that fit that profile.
5. Great sales coaches know when to leave a superstar sales rep alone and when to intervene to improve performance.
Many superstar sales reps are motivated not only by money, but also autonomy. I’ve had to tell some sales managers, “Give your top performers room to move, and they’ll call you when they need you.” They desire freedom and latitude in their job. Give it to them. As long as they’re consistently meeting their sales goals, see them as a partner and not as a rep. Your job is to resource them well and support their efforts. If you see they might be falling behind, then you should step in. Until then, ask them how you can help them make more money. They’ll tell you.
6. Great sales coaches clearly communicate their expectations.
Clearly define and communicate your expectations to every sales rep. This is the standard by which you will evaluate their performance and coach them. Ambiguous standards erode your ability to coach since your reps are unclear of specific activities, goals and objectives. For example, if your sales rep must generate leads, then be very clear about your Ideal Customer Profile. They need to know exactly whom they should call on and why. They should avoid low probability buyer outside of your target market. Otherwise, you end up with pipelines full of junk and low closing ratios.
7. Great sales coaches are the first to celebrate their sales reps’ wins.
Too often people feel unappreciated. Recognizing wins is a great motivator for some sales reps. They crave recognition for their results. If justified, be sure to acknowledge their success. You can recognize them in a sales meeting, send them a congratulatory email or something much bigger such as a gift. However you choose to celebrate, make it count.