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Do You Have Sales Growth Problems?  Solution #1: Coach the team you have.

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Dec 01, 2017

In a remarkable show of grit, the University of Alabama clawed back from a 20-point deficit against the University of Minnesota, though they eventually lost by 5. Most of you are probably thinking 1 of 2 things:

  1. I don’t care about Alabama basketball – that's just something that happens between football season and spring football practice.
  2. They still lost so why is this relevant?

It’s relevant because of a detail you wouldn’t know about unless you watch college basketball or follow sports shows regularly. For those totally out of the loop, in basketball each team has on the court at any one time 5 players. Due to an injury, a player fouling out and several players being ejected from the game Alabama played the last 10+ minutes of the game with just three players on the court!

Avery Johnson, the head basketball coach for Alabama, was asked to explain how he believed his three guys managed to pull off the most amazing loss in NCAA history. His response was that they practice a lot of defensive 5 on 3 basketball. There is no reason to go into the details of that here other than these two important things:

  1. Understanding the situations you know you are going to be in at some point during the game is imperative.
  2. Coaching your players on how to react and what to do in those situations is crucial for your success.

How is that any different than sales? The short answer is that it is not. So why doesn’t it – coaching the team that you have - happen?

  • Hiring managers believe they are hiring people with the appropriate skills and know how.
  • Most managers don’t believe that their salespeople need practice of basic fundamental sales skills – if they did, more sales training and 1-on-1 coaching would be taking place and more people on the sales team would be hitting their goals.
  • More time is spent on crafting the ‘deal’ then on practicing what to do when:
    1. The decision maker doesn't’ show up for the presentation
    2. The company hasn’t committed to leaving their current supplier, relationship, banker, insurance broker
    3. The prospect wants you to ‘sharpen your pencil’
    4. The prospect wants to ‘think it over’
  • Most sales managers – yes this might include you – haven’t been trained on effective coaching, don’t schedule time for coaching opportunities, don’t demand role-playing in sales meetings and confuse performance management with coaching.

Our assessment and research of dozens of companies with dozens of sales managers tell us that less than 10% of sales managers have the appropriate coaching skill set.  As you can see from this Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis snapshot of this sales organization the sales managers who are employed there have 44% of the required skills and are 59% effective when coaching. 

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In addition to effective coaching (Download Keys to Effective Coaching E-book) a Sales Managed Environment requires performance management, effective recruiting, motivation that works and upgrading the sales team.

Here are a couple of ideas worthy of consideration and implementation:

  1. Carve out time and be a slave to your schedule for 1 on 1 coaching to specifically improve skills and change behaviors
  2. Make sure that in every sales meeting you have a segment on sales skills improvement that includes drill for skill and role-playing
  3. Every week in your schedule you should have time for the ‘situation room’. This is the opportunity to conduct pre–call strategy sessions and post meeting debriefs
  4. Instruct and demand your sales team schedule joint calls with you once a month. 
  5. Make documentation of ALL activity in your CRM a requirement to get reimbursed for business expenses. 

In a 1,000 word blog we cannot solve all the sales problems outlined in the beginning but tackling coaching is a great start. For another step in that direction take action NOW. For a free sample of the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis click the botton below.

Free SEIA Sample

Topics: Sales Growth, Sales Manager, coaching salespeople, effective sales management

What to Stop, Start and Keep Doing to Drive Sales Growth (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jan 19, 2016

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What to STOP Doing:

Stop Worrying About Sales Production!

You can stop worrying if you do the things you should be doing as a sales executive/sales manager. Understand that “doing” doesn’t always mean “start doing”. It does mean that you should stop doing certain things. Bob Newhart in this YouTube video clip coaches this concept very well. Start the start doing by watching this video. Go ahead… I’ll wait…

Stop It!

Stop Recruiting the Wrong People: You know what they look like, act like and sound like. You see it in the current team you have today. Take a look at performance records, daily activity, improvement in skill and you know which people you have that are/were hiring mistakes.

Stop Collecting Data: You are probably collecting data and one of two (maybe three) things is happening: 1) You are doing nothing with the data. In other words, you aren’t taking the time to derive business intelligence from the information. 2) You are only collecting lagging indicator information – pipeline and sales. Neither accurately predicts the future success of an individual performer or the team as a whole. 3) Your coaching from the information is ineffective. Telling someone they need to make more calls, see more people or increase their average size sale isn’t coaching. It’s reporting the weather.

Stop Assuming You are Hiring Nothing but Skilled/Experienced Sales People that Can Get the Job Done: Yes, they might have the experience and they might have a track record. Remember this: sales people are like mutual fund investing – past results are no guarantee of future results. AND even the best require some level of performance management and coaching.

Stop Thinking that “Coaching the Deal” is the Same as Effective Coaching: I come from an athletic background. I played and coached football from the age of 9 to 22. I can probably figure out all the competitive games I played, but I cannot count the number of practices and time outs. Practice is where you coach to improve skill and change behavior. Time outs are for coaching in the moment – to help move a deal or close the deal. They are not the same – don’t treat them that way!

Stop Making and Accepting Excuses: Excuses are the answers to the performance questions of why or how come. When you are attempting to find out from a sales person why the results are not as planned, an excuse maker will blame you, the company, the economy, the pricing, the competition or the dog that used to eat their homework. Stop lowering the bar of acceptable behavior and stop accepting excuses. ALSO stop taking bullets for those that are not performing. Simply admit that you are not developing, coaching, or motivating them appropriately. Or admit that you made a hiring mistake.

Stop Setting Goals from the Top Down: It is not motivational; it doesn’t create ownership and it actually sets up a discussion somewhere over the next 12 months that sounds like – “It wasn’t my goal to begin with” or “I never agreed to that goal.”

Stop Conducting Sales Meetings that People Miss or Want to Miss: Sales meetings should be about selling. Effective sales meetings have 3 rules: 1) Make it a meeting that no one ever misses or finds reasons to miss, show up late or leave early. 2) Focus on nothing but sales –such as ops meetings or emails for ops and administrative issues. 3) Provide  ideas or information that they can leave the meeting with and use RIGHT NOW to drive more sales.

Stop Accepting Mediocre Performance: How do I know you do this? I know this because you probably have a performance chart that looks like a bell curve. You have 3 to 4 standard deviations from the median consisting of people that are underperforming. Your sales results probably resemble the 80/20 rule. But that isn’t unusual. As a matter of fact, it would be expected. You have people on your team that are close to retirement, so their goals may not be as high as middle career sales people. You have new hires that are to the left of the bell curve. But, my guess is that you have others populating the middle of the bell that are simply failing and continue to fail because you let them.

Come back to see the next step – START DOING!

Topics: managing sales people, Sales Growth

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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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