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What are the 5 Keys to Coaching?

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Tue, Oct 30, 2018

5 keys

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 that you must know and execute in order to get the best effort and results out of your salespeople.

These are the 5 Keys to Coaching!

 

  • INSIGHT As 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 their choke points so that you can coach them.

        5 Keys to Coaching - Insight

 

  • 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 Keys to Coaching - Feedback

 

  • DEMONSTRATEPart 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 and 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!

       5 Keys to Coaching - Demonstrate

 

  • PRACTICEWe 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.

       5 Keys to Coaching - Practice

 

  • ACTION PLANIt 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.

      5 Keys to Coaching - Action Plan

 

To learn more about the 5 Keys to Coaching and our specific available coaching packages, check out the link below!

5 Keys to Coaching

Topics: sales performance coaching, sales motivation, sales growth and inspiration, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement

Defining Sales Success – The Art and Science of A Sales Managed Environment®

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Mar 14, 2017

I'm sure someone from the Harvard Business Review or the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business could prove otherwise, but when it comes to defining success, I don’t believe there is an art to it.

Artbusiness.com

  • DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Jorge Luis Borges wrote," Art has become, in the experimental 20th and 21st centuries, impossible to define."
  • Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: "Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold."cat art.png

I don’t have the space to include, and you don’t have time to continue to read, all the articles available when I google "What Makes a Work of Art Successful", so we’ll let these two quotes validate that, when it comes to defining sales success, it is best not to be arbitrary or hope for a consensus.

Science Defined by Merriam Webster:

1:  the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

2a :  a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study the science of theology  b :  something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge have it down to a science.

It is safe to say that if, within your sales managed environment®, you have "defining success" down to a science, then you will be in a better position to identify:

  • Metrics that determine success
  • What leading indicators lead to success (kind of like a math problem – although there are a multitude of formulas you could use to arrive at the number 4, there are probably only a couple that people would use:
    • 2 +2
    • 3 +1
    • The square root of 16
  • Define the goal to be achieved – it’s a number or a definitive outcome.

But…

Maybe there is something beside the math/science that has to go into it.  I’m not sure it’s art (so I would love to hear from you what you think it is…) but here is what’s been noodling in my head for a couple of days.

This basketball season, Northwestern University of the Big Ten Conference, beat Michigan (Sorry, Jack, Mark and Marty...) with a buzzer beater full court pass and short jump shot.  Take a look here:  NCAA Video

In the aftermath, every sportscaster was talking about how this was the most wins in NWU history, it will be the first time EVER that the school has made it to the NCAA tournament and the coach, Chris Collins, has increased the number of wins every year he has been the head coach at the University.  With the win over Michigan, they recorded their 21st win of the season.  This information would lead us to believe that Coach Collins is successful because you are comparing his results to a standard that is generally accepted as success:  Winning 20 games a season and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

The head coach at Columbia University with the most wins is Lou Little.  Lou coached the Lions to 110 victories!  When Coach Ray Tellier retired from Columbia in 2002, the article announcing his retirement declared that he was the 2nd all-time “winningest” coach in Columbia’s history behind Lou Little.  When I read this, I was impressed and happy for him; Coach Tellier was an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut when I played there.

What I didn’t know at the time of the article, but found out later, was that Coach Tellier, over a 13-year period, lead his teams to victory 42 times - a 30.7% winning record.  And he was second on the list at Columbia.  Coach Little, with the most wins, had a winning percentage of 48.8% and averaged just over 4 wins a season over a 26-year career as the head coach at Columbia.

What does this have to do with selling and determining sales success? Everything.

Companies collect lots of data and sales managers do their very best to spin a good story when outcomes are not equal to or greater than expectations (goals).  Here are some examples of how outcomes are described when attempting to put a good spin on a bad outcome:

  • We are trending the right direction
  • Our year over year production is positive
  • We are outperforming our peer group
  • We have gone from #____ in stack ranking to #______
  • We will finish in the top percentile of our district
  • _____% of our team will qualify for incentive compensation

Those descriptions tell you nothing about how a team is actually performing.

What to do instead:

  • Identify metrics that are critical success factors for your organization. (In most organization the #1 metric is revenue – it pays the bills.)
  • Establish standards for those metrics that exceed previous performance levels and are consistent with what the market will allow. (You wouldn’t expect an operating unit in Bangor Maine to produce the same loan revenue as you would an operating unit in Manhattan.)
  • Make sure you are looking at execution metrics so that your success is duplicable and you can identify choke points when there is failure.

Do this now:

  • Call me about Scorecards for sales opportunities – 513.226.3913

Topics: Sales Tracking, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager, how to hit goals in sales

Why Do Sales People Leave Companies? - Management

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Mar 01, 2017

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR A $450 BILLION PROBLEM

According to the article, People Leave Managers, Not Companies by Victor Lipman, the research is unanimous in the premise that managers are directly responsible for the productivity of the people they manage.

Gallup data shows 30% of employees “engaged.” Towers Watson data shows 35% “highly engaged.” Dale Carnegie data shows 29% “fully engaged.” And these aren’t small studies; the Gallup survey includes more than 350,000 respondents and the Towers Watson survey includes more than 32,000. Gallup goes on to estimate an annual cost in lost U.S. productivity of more than $450 billion. This is a staggering figure. Even if it’s imprecise, it gives a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

INTERESTED IS NOT ENGAGED

My mandolin teacher is a better player than he is a teacher. I’ve not had music lessons before so I may not be an accurate judge of what makes a good music teacher, but I have been taught and coached before.  The best ones have always engaged me by first understanding what I wanted to accomplish, getting a feel for my current state (skill level) and assessing my commitment to being better.  I’ve not had this discussion with John at all. The starting point in my lessons was him jumping in and telling me about keys, chords, progressions and scales.  I might as well take Greek lessons.  I was interested… but not engaged.

lessons-playing.jpg

“LOSING THE SCHOLARSHIP”

I will not seek out another instructor… nor will I tell him he’s ineffective as a teacher because he spends his time showing off stuff that will take me years to learn while I pick my way through the Godfather Theme for the 1000th time.  Why?  Because I don’t have time to seek out someone else, I am learning something and, most importantly, I'm not going to “lose my scholarship” if I don’t get Country Boy by John Denver.

What does this have to do with managers, specifically sales managers? Everything.

I will admit that I just signed up for the music instructor that they had available.

  • Kind of like a salesperson taking a job and really not knowing the qualifications of the manager that will be leading them to success.

I will admit that I’m approaching music as a pastime and not like my life or my retirement plans depend on my music skills.

  • Kind of like a salesperson taking a new sales role and really not understanding what the expectations are for success in the first 90 days
  • Kind of like salespeople already on the staff that are “at leasters” and aren’t worried about their position because, as long as there are people below them on the stack ranking, they won’t “lose their scholarship” (job).

TWO POSSIBILITIES… ONE EVENTUAL OUTCOME

Eventually, one of two things happen:

  1. The company catches up with the WITALAIITUs and the salespeople get put on PIPs. They respond well enough to keep their job or they immediately start looking for a new one.
  2. Or they get fed up with the hassles of performing better without any significant support, training or coaching to help them get better and so they leave.

THE PROBLEM PERSISTS BECAUSE BUSINESS ALLOWS IT

At the end of the day, the turnover ratios in the company continue to put a drain on profitability. HR and hiring managers explain it all away as “the nature of our business”. 

It’s the nature of the business only because business allows it to be so. They allow ineffective recruiting, poor on-boarding, sloppy or missing solid performance management and last, but not least, the continuation of ineffective of coaching.

3 SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM NOW

What to do?  These three things will get you started:

  1. Start with Better Ingredients - Like the cooking analogies I’ve used before, start with fresh ingredients. In this case, I mean start with better people.  I don’t mean people that are just better from a moral or ethical perspective, although that's normally pretty important.  In this case, I mean start with people that fit your culture and will do well on the scorecard for success.

Sample Scorecard For Success:

scorecard-2.png

  1. Have a Supportive Sales Managed Environment® - You have to have the structure in place so that the person in charge of running the show won’t have excuses or reasons to fail.  Essentially, you need to have systems in place for:
    1. Performance management
    2. Upgrading the sales force
    3. Motivating the sales team
    4. Coaching for success
    5. Recruiting top talent
  2. Management with a Coaching Bias - Phil Jensen spoke of the 3rd factor (as it relates to coaching) several years ago at an Ecsell Institute Sales Management Summit. The concept is simple.  There are two factors that most of us rely on to function and succeed – Nature and Nurture.  Jensen suggest that people also rely on a third factor – in the case of successful managers, they have a “coaching bias”. That is their 3rd factor.  They care more about developing people than they do anything else.  They experience success as a result of the success of the people they are coaching.

Additional Resources:

No More Hiring Mistakes. Guaranteed! – http://www.hirebettersalespeople.com

Identify Your Systems and Processes – Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis Sample

Topics: sales talent acquisition, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager

Intentional Sales Coaching – You Can’t Coach "Tall"

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 22, 2017

YOUR BIGGEST UNDETECTED CHALLENGE

One of the biggest challenges, mostly an undetected challenge, is providing coaching that is customized and intentional to the individual need.  I say “undetected” because most, if not all, of the time coaching is done based on symptoms:

symptom-chart1.png

I could add another 10 symptoms to the list, but I’m sure this has already caused you some nausea.  It doesn’t matter if you are a sales manager attempting to do the coaching or the sales person on the receiving end of the coaching, you probably feel the same way.  I’m tired of sales training, I’m tired of going to the same classes over and over again, I’m tired of telling my people they have to do a better job at cross-selling, getting introductions, networking and asking for the business.

In the end, everyone is sick and tired because, after all the training time, after all the role-playing and after all the investment of money, you look at the results and not a lot has changed.  How come? Well, because you can’t coach TALL.

YOU CAN’T COACH “TALL”

My daughter (recently engaged - thank you) played basketball in 7th grade.  She then tried volleyball but found her love of performing in front of others, not on the fields or courts of athletics, but on the stage of music and theatre. 

I was watching her basketball practice one day and was thinking she had a chance to be a player on the high school team, but she would need a lot of work on the fundamentals: handling the ball, keeping the ball up when rebounding and pivoting while in the low post.  After practice, I went to the coach and asked him what he thought. 

Like a lot of coaches who have to address parents when they ask about their child’s skill and potential, he couched his remarks carefully.  He stated what I had been thinking about her skills and fundamentals and then he said that she would still probably be a starter.  Somewhat surprised, I asked, “How come?”  He said, “You can’t teach tall.”

You see, Alex in 7th grade was already almost 6’ tall.  She could out rebound people because they simply couldn’t reach the balls that she could reach.  She was good enough on defense and blocked out well so she had some things going for her that helped her overcome any weaknesses she had that might have kept a shorter player from being a starter. (Watch this exception to the rule.)  Besides, she had dad, a former coach, to keep her working hard and disciplined. 

Alex-tall.png

 **Note:  Alex’s height created an interesting sight on the stage when she played the queen in Cinderella.  With her hair pushed up on her head and a crown she was at least 6’4”.  The leading man… about 5’4”.  It was funny.

INTENTIONAL COACHING IS ALL ABOUT THE ROOT

The thing about intentional coaching is that, in order to get changes in behaviors and improvement in skills, you have to understand the root cause of the problem:

symptom-chart2.png

The coaching required to address the symptoms is not teaching them a new technique or process.  It is not enrolling them in a wealth certification program.  It is not having them take a time management course.  The coaching required has to address the root issue.  For example...

Problem: I don’t have time to prospect. I have too much account management work to do.

Solution(s):  Assign account managers (and they still won’t prospect, they’ll just find another excuse) or enroll them in a time management class.

ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSE IS REALLY THIS SIMPLE

SO…that isn’t the answer for dealing with excuses (audio). 

The solution is to ask them, “If I didn't let you use that as an excuse, what would you be doing differently?”

This addresses the root issue.  I can guess that you’re thinking that it cannot be that simple. I assure you can call anyone of the hundreds of salespeople we’ve coached or salespeople we’ve trained and they will ALL tell you that IT makes a difference.  It changes things because you’re now dealing with the correct end of the problem!

KNOW ABOUT ROOT ISSUES WHEN HIRING

Finally, think about the candidates that you are hiring. There are things they have to come to the table with that you cannot coach or you don't have time to coach. Take a look at this screen shot of the sample pre-hire assessment we use to guarantee no more hiring mistakes:

omg-pic-2.pngWouldn’t you want to know in advance that they had desire and commitment to be successful in SELLING?  How helpful would it be to know in advance that they will struggle with rejections but they will be great talking about money?  Take a look at the next shot:omg-pic-3.png

Even though there are some obvious areas of weakness, this candidate is recommended for hire. (When a hire is made based on a "recommended for hire" finding, like this candidate, 92% of the time that candidate will be a successful sales person.) The benefit of having this information is that, if you were to hire this individual, you would know the extent of your "project" and exactly what you would need to do to help them be successful in your organization.

However, having said that, there are still factors that need to be considered. Look at the work that has to be done... AND notice this: the findins say they are trainable but are not considered coachable.  Do you want to take that on? Do you have the bandwidth to take that on?  If not, then this is a hire that shouldn’t be made.  Now, consider how many of your people today might look like this and what’s that costing you?

Additional Resources:

Topics: improve sales, sales performance coaching, development of sales, sales recruiitment

Why Sales Coaching is to Growing Like Low & Slow is to Tasty BBQ

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 15, 2017

It’s this simple:  If you want great barbeque ribs, brisket or chicken, the key is low temperature and slow cooking. Having said that, if you want maximum flavor and tenderness, make sure you sear or char the meat first, then go low and slow.  This is an undeniable truth.  Just read the Science of Cooking and discover all the neat things you can do to improve the outcome of any meal.

EXPERIENCE DOESN'T GUARANTEE FUTURE SUCCESS

20 years in sales does not guarantee future success.  Just ask anyone that has lost a sale at any time in their career.  Something always happens just a little bit differently.  If there isn’t an adjustment, a lesson or some learning as a result, then the salesperson is prone to repeating the sames mistakes or errors over and over again.

When you effectively coach your people, they will get better.  When they get better, you will close more business, more quickly at higher margins.  This is undeniable as well.  Just look at the information provided by The Sales Management Association.  **FYI - it’s also undeniable that a lack of coaching has a negative impact on sales success and talent development!

(Bob Rotella – coach to PGA Tour Players – Author – How Champions Think)

golf-coach.jpg

THERE IS ALWAYS TIME TO COACH

In our Sales Management Certification Program, we discuss 5 Keys to Coaching for Success in our coaching module. These 5 keys cover what to do and how to do it when you are face-to-face with your salespeople. Many managers, before going through our certification, complain/tell me/make excuses that there isn’t enough time to effectively coach their people.  I don’t buy it. There are several opportunities for coaching without adding to an already busy schedule:

  1. Sales meetings
    1. Segment on sales training
    2. Role-playing phone calls to get appointments
    3. Role-playing conversations to get appointments with internal partners
    4. Role-play how to position financial planning
    5. Overcoming objections
    6. Appropriately dealing with questions, and stalls.
  2. Pre–call strategy sessions
  3. Post-call debriefing sessions
  4. 1-on-1 intentional coaching sessions
  5. Ad-hoc moments when they ask you if you have a minute
  6. Every time they give you an excuse for lack of effort or execution

IN-THE-MOMENT COACHING VS. COACHING FOR SUCCESS

Coaching does take place today, but most of it is in the moment. Kind of like when a coach calls a time out in a game. The team is gathered around the coach and a strategy is developed to take advantage of the “in the moment” opportunity. Normally, that’s the type of coaching that takes place in sales – in the moment.  That type of coaching helps close a sale, get an appointment, and/or move an opportunity through the pipeline, but it does nothing to change behavior or improve skills!

Do you find yourself or your sales managers constantly covering the same ground to close deals, improve effort or refine execution?  Are opportunities getting stuck in the pipeline in the same spot for the same reasons over and over?  When you look at the performance (effectiveness and productivity, not just the results), do you see actual improvement in sales ratios like average size sale, conversion ratios from opportunities to closes and average production for each quintile in the team?

Those are the types of metrics that determine if your coaching is effective!  Failure to collect that data leads to failure of the effectiveness of your sales manager and your sales team.  Collecting the data and then doing nothing about it leads to lackluster enthusiasm for entering data, thus limiting the integrity of your forecasting.

THE 5 KEYS FOR COACHING SUCCESS

So, let’s assume for a second that 1) you are collecting data and  2) you are creating opportunities to coach people.  We can now discuss The 5 Keys for Coaching for Success.

  1. Gain insight from data points: Your data points have to include data (numbers representing leading and lagging indicators), observational opportunities via joint calls, and observations made during role plays in meetings.

    The data points you have should not be a secret to your people. Share with them what you know and what you’ve observed.  Prior to meeting with them, call them to set up the coaching meeting. Tell them that the data you have indicates there might be some problems with them hitting their established extraordinary goal.  (Remember the extraordinary goal discussion?) Then tell them that you want to meet with them during your established coaching hours. Set the appointment.
  1. Provide feedback: Now that you both have the date, you don’t have to ask the worse possible question in your meeting, “So, Joe, what’s going on?”  Instead, you acknowledge that you’ve looked at the numbers and they’ve looked at the numbers and then you ask a question about the problem that you see.

    Let’s pretend that you see a choke point where his conversion of conversations isn’t leading to the assumed number of appointments. All the other assumptions look good, but - because the conversion is off - the number of appointments isn’t meeting the goal.  Without this information, the only coaching you can do is to tell Joe that he needs to see more people. But, with all the data, you see that the effort is there – the dials and discussions – but that effort isn’t leading to appointments.

    Instead of pointing that out, you ask Joe what he sees when he looks at the conversation ratio compared to the model in the success formula.  Assuming Joe sees the same thing as you, you are now in a position to ask further questions.  The key here is that both parties must agree as to what the problem is.

  2. Demonstrate what you expect to be done: In this case, you would listen to Joe’s approach to converting conversations to appointments.  You would identify areas where he might need to change or improve his approach and you demonstrate what that would look/sound like.

  3. Role–play: Now that you’ve demonstrated what you expect, you role-play various situations with Joe giving him several different responses.

  1. Action step: It is critical that every coaching session ends with an action step.  An example of that would be to agree to a number of calls that Joe is going to make over a short period of time (i.e. by the end of the day or week) and then instruct him to report back to you (on a specific day and time) the outcome of his effort.

(Click here for 9 critical coaching skills)

STOP WASTING YOUR MONEY ON SALES TRAINING

Understand that this might be an ongoing process for Joe, and you may have to take a more disciplined approach to his coaching and execution of the skills he is struggling with.  At the end of the day, the key is to recognize that improvement is vital for sales growth.  You cannot expect to grow sales without improving effort and/or execution. If you want to improve sales, invest your money in developing your sales managers and stop wasting money on sales training until your managers can and will coach.

Additional Resources:

Demo online Sales Learning Module

Sales Managed Environment® Certification Module – Free Document

Topics: Sales Tracking, Sales Coaching, sales performance coaching, sales productivity

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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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