You can teach an old dog new tricks – they’ll probably even like it. The reality is that most sales managers do not spend enough time with their staff in a coaching capacity – providing constant feedback and being a role model who demonstrates the right skills.
Many managers today are still focusing too heavily on short term efficiency and not long term effectiveness. Development of staff through on-the-job coaching is a critical function of modern day managers, but can take second place to some of the more urgent, but less important priorities.
On-the-job coaching is something that managers recognise they need to do with junior members of the team. When it comes to a salesperson with several years experience, the sales manager would prefer not to do it. The rationale goes along the lines that the senior people do not need it. They have been selling for years and they would resent the sales manager going out on a coaching day with them.
It is true that it is not much use you going out to coach people if you cannot add anything to the call. However you are the sales manager and you should be able to add something even to the most accomplished salesperson.
Added to this is the fact that those sales people who have been selling for years are not automatically good salespeople and, as we have already discussed, the job of selling is constantly changing.
The 12-step approach for on-the-job sales coaching involves three phases: Before, during, and after the call.
Before the call
Check the customer records etc.
Question the objectives of the call. “Anything else? Can we aim higher?”
Review the call/sales plan/presentation plan:
- Key sales techniques.
- Likely objections and solutions.
- Any problem areas and recommendations.
- Role play important points if necessary.
Agree on your role. Usually shut up and observe the call.
Summarise and encourage.
During the call
Watch and listen…
- How the call goes versus the plan.
- Improvements from last time.
After the call
Decide on the key learning points:
- Two or three, no more.
- Identify some good points.
Overview the call:
- What happened versus the plan.
- Let the salesperson lead: “How did you go against your plan?”
- “What did you achieve compared to what your objectives were?”
- Don’t get into the detail of the call at this stage.
Analysis of strengths:
- What did you do well?
- Let the salesperson take the lead. Add your own comments.
Analysis of weaknesses:
- “What would you have done differently?”
- Use non-directive questioning techniques to let the salesperson solve his own problems. Avoid telling. Focus the questions to the areas where the key learning points are.
- Why did it go wrong?
- What should you have done? Why?
- Role play if necessary.
Agree on action plan to address the learning points.
Agree on the next action with the customer.
Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to www.barrett.com.au
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