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. They 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. They develop a partner relationship with their reps – not a superior one.
Great sales coaches avoid “managing” a sales reps. So partner with them to develop their skills 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. They 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. For example, you may have a sales rep who continually submits quotes or proposals to buyers, but has a low closing ratio. Most likely, they need to develop their qualifying skills. That’s your roadmap for coaching. Invest the time to help them understand the value of qualify, the criteria of a qualified buyer and the questions to ask.
4. They 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.
- How many cold calls have you made this week? Is that enough to build a sufficient pipeline?
- How many criteria of a qualified buyer does your current prospect have? Should you submit a proposal or ask them more questions?
- What value proposition did you share with your prospect? How did they react? What other benefits are they looking for?
- How well does this prospect fit with our Ideal Customer Profile? How do you think you should proceed?
5. They 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. The ideal is for your salespeople to invest most of their time selling and not in non-sales activities. Assess your resources you provide to your sales reps. Are they up to date? Is there anything missing? What feedback have your sales reps provided you?
6. They 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. As the sales coach, you are the go-to person for all things sales process. Always develop your sales reps by driving them back to the principles and techniques in your sales process.
7. They 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 their set list in preparation for a concert. Athletes practice the same plays over and over again 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. Great sales coaches always strive for mastery.