Coaching your reps is the primary function of your job. It’s the best pathway to achieving the sales quota. In this article, I list seven qualities I’ve experienced and observed of great sales coaches.
1. Great sales coaches do NOT speak in generalities, but specifics.
Instead of saying, “You need to get your close ratio up”, ask “How many contacts did you make this week? How many led to first appointments? What percent led to a proposal? What is your close ratio between proposals and closes?”
2. Great sales coaches develop a partner relationship with their reps – not a superior one.
Avoid “managing” a sales reps. Rather, partner with them to develop their skills and results like a coach in professional sports. Every quarterback in the NFL has a quarterback coach. They don’t manage the player, they work with the quarterback to help improve performance through every phase of their game. Change your focus to more of a quarterback coach than a traditional sales “manager.”
3. Great sales coaches quickly identify the strengths, weaknesses and areas of development of their sales reps.
Every rep has a strength – find it. Every rep has something the need to work on – find it. Your objective is to always have a running list of developmental areas for each rep. That’s your roadmap for coaching.
4. Great sales coaches ask a lot of questions to get their reps to develop their problem-solving skills.
Get your sales reps to think for themselves. Develop their problem-solving ability by asking them good questions. Avoid always telling them what to do. If there is a knowledge gap – tell them. If not, ask them a question to help them think through what to do. So, you’ll develop independence rather than dependence.
5. Great sales coaches provide sales resources their reps need to continue their development.
Sales reps need resources such as training, role-playing, ride-alongs, books, videos and sales meetings to help them improve performance. In addition, they provide the collateral, and admin support to help them focus on selling and not be consumed with non-sales activities.
6. Great sales coaches know the sales process better than anyone.
You can’t coach your reps if you don’t know the sales process. Know every step, activity, technique, principle and task so you can explain, coach and role-play with your reps. This should be the “gold-standard” for acquiring new customers. This is the basis for sales coaching.
7. Great sales coaches practice skills with sales reps until they become masterful.
Repetition is the key to skill development. Actors rehearse lines before the director says “action!” Musicians practice in preparation for a concert. Athletes practice before a game. Why wouldn’t you practice with your sales reps before they sell? Pick the step or technique within the sales process your sale rep is weak and work on it until they achieve sufficient competency. But don’t stop there. Keep working with them until they achieve mastery.