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Sales Coaching for the Sales Coaches

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jul 08, 2019

In this article, we focus on Sales Coaching for Sales Coaches.  Often, in sales, the sales manager is not held to the same standards as those on the sales force.  While sales people are monitored on their calls, emails, CRM activity, and follow-up methodologies, the same cannot always be said for sales management.

To fix the problem, organizations must take action by understanding the exact qualifications and skills they are looking for in sales management, using the Objective Management Sales Manager assessment tool, and having the systems and processes in place to execute a Sales Managed Environment.athlete-baseball-boy-264337

When you Google "Sales Coaching", what you would most likely find is the following:

  • Sales Rep Coaching
  • Top 20 Sales Coaching Company
  • 30 Minute Free Consultation / Increase Sales by 56% of More
  • Sales Coaching Sales Coaching / Move the Needle with LevelJump

But this post is not about those things.  If you want information on how to effectively coach sales people go here:

Why is Selling So Damned Hard.

Instead, this is about coaching the coaches. Why would we focus on that you might ask?  Let me lean on my good friends at Objective Management Group and John Pattison for some BIG DATA information.  This is what they know, and by extension, what we know about successful sales management and successful sales organizations.

  • When you have an effective sales coach, sales grow annually at an average of 26%.
  • Only 18% of the 100,000+ sales managers assessed, have over 60% of the required skills to be effective at coaching.
  • A much smaller percentage spends at least 50% of their time coaching.

Let’s do the math – if you have 10 sales managers, about 2 of them will be effective at coaching.  If you are looking for a sales manager and interview 10 of them, only 2 of them will be effective at coaching.

THAT is why I am focusing on Sales Coaching for Sales Coaches.

So, how and why do sales managers end up in the role, and why do companies continue to fail massively in an effort to effectively build and execute a sales managed environment?  Here are the answers to those questions, and yes they are in order of likely answers:

  1. Career path – Most organizations promote sales people because that seems to be the logical career path for a successful sales person.
  2. Great sales skills – The ‘career path’ sales candidates have great skills! Those include persuasion, interviewing well, presenting well and negotiation.
  3. Candidates that have a ‘sales management’ resume impress Presidents, HR recruiters and hiring managers with great talk and expertise about performance management, sales metrics, the number of sales people they have hitting  sales goals, using CRM and pipeline management technology.
  4. Companies don’t invest time money or effort to train and develop people to be effective sales managers. They assume that they come wired for success. This is kind of buying Salesforce out of the box – it won’t do the things you need it to do without hiring a Salesforce consultant to customize and build out the tool.
  5. There is failure to hold sales managers to the same rigor of performance management and coaching that is expected of sales people. Sales people are required to report sales activities and enter opportunities into the CRM. With our clients, sales people are taken through a discussion about achieving extraordinary results and building a success formula to achieve that goal. Sales managers do not typically report on the number of:
    1. Joint calls conducted
    2. Pre and post-call debriefing sessions
    3. 1-on-1 sales skills and behavior improvement coaching sessions
    4. 1-on-1 sessions to review the business plan and update the success formula
    5. Prospect / recruiting meetings they had or networking events they attended to find new sales people
    6. Sales management classes enrolled in or books they’ve read to improve skills
    7. Data analysis reports they’ve run to determine how well the bottom 2/3 of the sales team is doing as compared to the top 2/3

To ‘Fix” the problem, organizations and current sales executives must do the following:

  1. Understand the exact qualifications and skills you are looking for in the role and hire / develop the talent that can execute the skills necessary to get those outcomes
  2. Make sure that you use the Objective Management Sales Manager assessment tool to determine if the candidate has the Will to Succeed in the role, the right Sales Management DNA, and enough of the Sales Management Competencies so that you don’t have a extend yourself and your team to develop what you should have hired
  3. Have a system and process in place that clearly outlines the necessary tools, systems and processes to execute a Sales Managed Environment:
    1. Performance management and developing an no excuse sales environment
    2. Coaching for Success
    3. Motivation that Works
    4. Upgrading the Sales Force
    5. Recruiting talented sales people

Topics: sales management skills, sales management success, Sales Management Training, hiring sales managers, sales management tools, responsibilities of sales manager, develop talent

How to Improve Sales:  5 Keys to Coaching Sales Improvement

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jun 27, 2019

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement. 

You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business. 

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Companies are constantly trying to figure out how to drive organic growth by:

  • Acquiring a revenue stream by buying a business or lifting out talent from a competitor
  • Developing current talent

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement.  You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business.  (See LinkedIn Article: What You Don't Know Can Kill Sales Growth

Are your people just making excuses for failure or do they have deficits in the required sales competencies or will to sell?

To be successful in determining the real issues with your salespeople, you must have a system.

I read a blog the other day by Dave Kurlan.  We’ve had a strong business partnership with Dave and his company OMG (Objective Management Group) for most of our 24 years in business.  With OMG, we have the ability to determine the answer to the question – is it excuses or is it a talent issue?

Dave’s post  - 12 Reasons They Didn’t Like You Enough To Buy From You – helps address some of the issues associated with “not getting the business”.  It primarily focuses on the area of matching styles.

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This got me thinking about the issue of “style” as it relates to talent, which relates to sales competencies and excuse making.  The challenge for the sales manager is determining if the reason a salesperson did not get the sale was really a talent issue, or if they are just making excuses for failing to execute the skills or sales process of the organization.

To determine the root cause of the results, a sales manager must work more closely with the relationship managers and implement a process that Bill Eckstom calls “intentional coaching”.  This process of working closing with your RMs is addressed in our Sales Management Certification Program in the Coaching for Success Module.

Here are the 5 steps you must take to help you determine if your people have skill issues or an excuse-making issue:

  1. You must gain insight. You gain insight by using various data points. The data points you MUST use are: 
    1. Observational joint sales calls – You do not run the sales call; you observe your RM
    2. Data from your CRM or SAT program (SAT – Sales Activity Tracking)
    3. Sales meetings – In all your sales meetings, you need to include a segment on skill development where you drill for skill, role play and conduct strategy development discussions
    4. 1-on-1 coaching – Each week, you should have time set aside for 1-on-1 coaching with those people that are NOT in the 1st quadrant of the “Where’s Walter?” matrix
  2. Provide feedback. In advance of the discussion about lost opportunities, you want to provide your RM with the data you have – no ambushing.
    1. You discuss – ask the RM questions about what they see in the data
    2. You provide them feedback based on what you see and where the problems might be
    3. You discuss what the future might look like if the current trends continue
    4. You agree that there is a problem
  3. Demonstrate – Once you identify the problem as either an excuse or a skill issue, you demonstrate to the RM what you expect them to execute.
    1. If they are making excuses – ‘They didn’t understand the value of our offering” – You ask, “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse what would you have done differently?”
    2. If it’s a skill problem – “I asked them if they had a budget and they said yes.” “When you asked them what it was, what did they say?”  “They said they didn’t want to tell me.”  “When you asked, ‘why not?’, what did they say?”  “I didn’t ask that question.”
  4. Role play – The scenario above allows you to now role play with you playing the prospect. You need to start with Drill for Skill and then graduate to the full role play.  Getting them to practice what you expect them to do takes patience and repetition.  Do not believe for a second that one role play will be enough.  You need to start your RM on a weekly coaching session repeating the required skills over and over again. 
  5. Action steps – each coaching session must end with action
    1. Bill, so what I want you to do is call Mary and have this conversation we just role played.
    2. I want you to report back to me by end of business today what happened as a result of that conversation.

Implementing a process of gaining insight, providing feedback, demonstrating, role playing and establishing action items will go a long way in helping your team discern the difference between making excuses for failure and the need for skill development.

 

Topics: sales skill improvement, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to improve sales, grow sales, develop talent

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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