ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Coaching Sales Behaviors

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Aug 12, 2021

Coaching has become the single most important competency for sales managers to learn and optimally, they should spend 50% of their time coaching their salespeople. It is also the single most difficult sales management competency to learn and master.

In this post, we will review the skills that contribute to sales coaching effectiveness and introduce a sales coaching process any sales manager can implement immediately to coach sales behaviors.

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Sales Coaching Skills

The challenge for most sales managers or sales leaders is to have the ability to exhibit and execute these sales coaching skills of being an effective leader: Strong identity, self-assurance, credible authority, knowledge, and a foundational vision, mission, and goal orientation. Strong leaders do not need to be in the spotlight, do not act like they know it all, and ask questions instead of always providing answers.

There are assessments in the marketplace to help people identify if they have what it takes. We use Objective Management Group’s Sales Manager Evaluation. OMG identifies these specific sales coaching skills that a sales leader must master:

Screenshot (71)One of the most difficult skills for most sales managers to overcome is their need for approval from their salespeople. Coaching is different than managing and requires clear direction, discussion, examples, and even demonstration of what is expected of a salesperson. This can be hard for a manager, who also wants their team to like them. They may not want to come off as critical. Coaching sales behaviors is an art, not a science and a sales leader must be adept at asking, listening, and staying focused on developing salespeople to be their best.

Another skill of strong sales leaders is asking questions versus telling a salesperson what to do. In coaching sales behaviors, how you say something can be more important than what you say. Instead of saying “You should have asked your prospect about their current provider”, you could ask “What did you find out about their current provider?” Asking questions will allow salespeople to self-discover, which is the most effective learning mode.

It goes without saying that you must coach to a sales process. If there is not an established stage-based sales process for qualifying and closing prospects, how can a sales manager coach sales behaviors?

Coaching Sales Behaviors with a Sales Coaching Process

It is important that sales managers set aside specific time for intentional coaching, not just coaching to a specific deal or proposal. Consider putting time on the calendar weekly for 1-on-1 coaching with salespeople that can be used to prepare for an upcoming call or debrief after a recent sales call. But you must follow a sales coaching process. Here is the approach we recommend and use with our clients below. All of these steps can be done remotely, using virtual tools like Zoom so no excuses!

Gaining insight is all about what is happening in the field on a sales call or what is not happening. You can gain insight firsthand by observing a call or gather it from huddle data where you review sales behaviors and results. For example, how many calls and appointments are your salespeople supposed to make, and what were their results in a certain timeframe? Then, most importantly, what behaviors did your salespeople exhibit to get those results and if not to goal, how will they change their sales behaviors? We recommend the coach ask their salespeople “What would you do differently if you could not use that as an excuse?”

Giving Feedback is when coaching sales behaviors gets more difficult. Here are a few tips:

  • Makes sure feedback is timely and specific
  • Review the Good, Bad & Ugly (find something good to point out)
  • Ask questions to help them self-discover
  • Gain agreement on the real problem

Demonstration of the sales behaviors you want and expect can be hard for many sales leaders because they may not have come out of a sales role but they can demonstrate the questions needed to be asked and the sales approach that should be followed. We call this the Shadow of the Leader. To effectively coach sales behaviors sales leaders must identify the gaps, demonstrate the desired behavior and instruct on the critical steps.

Roleplay is never anyone’s favorite activity but once the sales manager has demonstrated the sales behavior, it is important to have the salesperson role play. Don’t call it role play, just name it a practice session but make sure they do it. Muscle memory needs repetition!

Action Plan is putting the learning into action. Is the salesperson going to call the prospect back and ask those additional questions about their current provider? Make certain to identify specific actions that will take place, set a follow-up to discuss the outcomes, inspect, then coach their sales behaviors again. And don’t forget to celebrate the success and address the failures.

Coaching sale behaviors is an all-the-time effort. Are you devoting 50% of your time to developing your team?

 

Download our Free  9 Keys to Successful Coaching eBook

Topics: sales coaching skills, coaching sales behaviors, sales coaching process

The 5 Keys to Sales Coaching

Posted by Alex Cole-Murphy on Thu, Jan 16, 2020

In this article, we discuss the "5 Keys to Sales Coaching", or 5 critical steps you must know and execute in order to get the best effort and results out of your salespeople, to help increase sales in 2020 and beyond.

They include:

  1. Insight
  2. Feedback
  3. Demonstrate
  4. Practice
  5. Action Plan

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Coaching salespeople is hard work and it helps to have a consistent and effective process to help keep you on course.

As a sales coach, there are five critical steps you must know and execute in order to get the best effort and results out of your salespeople.

These are the 5 Keys to Sales Coaching below:

1.) INSIGHTAs a coach, you must be able to see what is happening and what is not happening out in the field.  Without real insight into what is going on, you will have difficulty understanding your salespeople's choke points.

10 Sales Management Insights

 

2.) FEEDBACK - As a sales coach, you must continually give your salespeople specific feedback on their activities.  This includes both positive and constructive feedback.  If you ask your salesperson if they will allow you to coach them to help them reach their goals, you will usually gain permission.  And that makes the journey better for everyone.

5 Effective Ways to Coach Your Sales Team

 

3.) DEMONSTRATE Part of a sales leader’s job is to be effective at demonstrating the behavior they want their salespeople to execute in the field.  And they must take time out of their busy day to schedule time with their team members to demonstrate specific situations from a sales call or meeting, role play with their team, identify gaps in the selling process, ask specific questions, and most importantly, coach their salespeople to become better salespeople!

The Top 10 Behaviors of High Performing Managers

 

4.) PRACTICE We have all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect”. This is particularly true in selling. Practice is essential in improving selling skills, specific techniques, interpersonal skills, and attention-to-detail in the selling process.  Without practice, your salespeople will only go so far, and as a sales coach, you must role play with your salespeople in order for them to practice and achieve success!  Be prepared, they might not like it but they must do it.

8 Sales Role Play Exercises

 

5.) ACTION PLAN - It is essential that YOU as a sales leader take time to sit down with your salesperson and establish an action plan – what are the specific prospecting and networking activities that they must do in order to reach their goals? 

This will undoubtedly include utilizing LinkedIn, attending association meetings with the intent to meet the right target profile client, etc.  This action plan SHOULD include getting introductions from current clients.

31 Tips for Using LinkedIn for Sales

 

Follow this link below to learn more about specific opportunities we offer to help grow revenue!

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, hire better people, train the trainer, 5 keys to sales coaching

A Pre-Call Checklist is Your 7th Must-Have Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 21, 2019

In our 7th installment of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you the pivotal and "must-have" Pre-Call Checklist.  Going into a sales call without a plan is similar to going into a football game without a game plan; it's a recipe for disaster!

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Going into a sales call without a documented, practiced, and rehearsed plan would be equivalent to playing a football game without film time, practice time, meeting time and strategy development.  It would be like a coach showing up in the locker room and telling the team,

“I think we’ll wing it today."

The head coach might have an idea of the plays and drills he wants to run, while the players might have some idea of what is expected of them, but subtract the preparation required to succeed, or a pre-game strategy; and that team is sure to fail.  And so, that's how it goes with salespeople and sales teams that "wing it."

What we know from extensive research (over 1.9 million salespeople evaluated) done by the Objective Management Group, and with our use of their Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, there are certainly specific characteristics that make salespeople successful.

Aside from being extremely strong in the competencies you would normally want in a salesperson, such as being a great Hunter or a Consultative Seller, Selling Value, Qualifying, and having a great Presentational Approach, they also have 76% of the skills needed to be competent in executing a consistent, milestone-centric sales process. That means that more often than not, their pipelines will be more accurate, their sales cycle will be shorter, and their closing ratios will be higher.

Why?

Because They Follow A Process!

Back in the day, Marsh McLennan (following the tenets of Strategic Selling,) "Blue Sheeted" opportunities to determine if it was qualified and closable. This process forced salespeople to identify information that wasn’t uncovered and steps in the sales process that weren’t taken as well.  

In our Sales Managed Environment Program, we take our clients through a very specific and detailed process of building, implementing and executing pre and post call meetings and worksheets.  This process of using a scorecard more accurately defines the probability of closing and identifies the steps that a salesperson must take PRIOR to presenting a solution.

If you must close more business, more quickly and at higher margins, then developing a Pre-Call Checklist is a must!

Schedule a Meeting with one our Sales Development Experts to Help you Build a Pre-Call Checklist and Probability Scorecard

You can check out all of our Sales Productivity Tools below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, increase sales, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

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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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