When we think of sales coaching, we can easily picture a very experienced sales person as the coach telling a less experienced sales person what and what not to do. And while there is definitely great knowledge that we have to gain when listening to more experienced sales resources, there are six key components that can be implemented to establish effective sales coaching.
1. Powerful Questions
Continuing with the example described above, our natural instinct when providing sales coaching is to provide information. We want to lead off by sharing our observations and our suggestions for what needs to be done. While there may be a place for that in sales coaching, a better place to start is to lead off by gathering information from the client instead.
To effectively gather information, we need to ask powerful questions. These should be open-ended questions that the client cannot answer with a “yes” or “no” so that we get them talking and sharing. The questions should probe the client to collect key information in terms of where they are at, what direction they want to go, challenges being experienced, etc.
The natural component to follow questioning is effectively listening to the client. Just as listening is one of the keys to being successful in sales, it is also important in effective sales coaching.
Regardless of the level of sales experience or skills, the profession of selling can be tough. We can’t win every deal and as a result we often deal with the feeling of loss and often face some sort of rejection. When this occurs, we can easily question who we are and what we are doing.
While every single sales person has room for improvement in execution, we do work hard and can benefit tremendously from hearing some form of encouragement from time to time. Positively reinforcing what the client is doing well and encouraging them to continue forward is a key component of effective sales coaching.
We have already discussed a scenario where an experienced sales person tells another sales professional what to do. During sales coaching, a more effective way to go could be to brainstorm with the client what should be done instead of directly telling the client what to do.
This is powerful as the client may come up with the answer of what to do on their own. And if they don’t, the coach can contribute ideas to the brainstorming to lead them to the answer instead of directly giving them direction.
5. Action Planning
A key step in effective sales coaching is action planning. This could begin with long and short-term goal setting and should lead to identification of what should be done next in terms of action the client will own and be responsible for after the coaching session.
6. Tracking Progress
A key way that a sales coach can bring value to a client is by helping to track progress. This will not only help build the level of accountability but will also help to show them what they have achieved so far and these two factors combined can fuel motivation and momentum.