6 Do’s and Don’ts for More Effective Sales Coaching
The following is a post by Scott Van Almen, Life Sciences Sales Director at Allego. Scott is also CEO of Versatile Performance Solutions, and is a consultant and master facilitator in the medical device industry.
Research shows that boosting the effectiveness of your front-line sales managers’ coaching is the single biggest driver of higher win rates, yet over a third of managers we recently surveyed felt they don’t do enough of it. Further, a third of managers and reps also disagreed about whether the coaching has an impact on sales results.
Perhaps reps don’t feel the coaching they receive helps them because managers aren’t approaching it in the right way. Survey results showed that they focus too much on ‘deal coaching’, and not enough on coaching to long-term skill development. And reps feel the style managers typically use is too directive, and not collaborative enough.
Front-line sales managers need help understanding who, what and when to coach, but they also need to know how to deliver coaching in a way that reps will receive it well.
Here’s 6 do’s and don’ts for driving better sales performance through coaching:
Do coach reps on what to do, but don’t always tell them how to do it
Most managers aren’t natural-born coaches. Why? Because they’ve acquired a “my way or the highway” mentality from years of perfecting what works for them. Good coaching is not a “one-size-fits-all” endeavor. The best coaches spend time getting to know their reps and developing personalized pathways for each. Elite coaches continually seek out professional development opportunities while using science-based methodologies like Situational Leadership to help them navigate different personality types and on-the-job experiences. After reaching agreement on what needs to be done, the real coaching begins–and focusing on how to do those things is critical. Successful coaches ask lots of questions to help reps develop their own solutions, and they also determine which methods–role-playing, video practice sessions, etc.–will bring each rep up to speed the fastest.
Don’t assume the rep already knows how to do X, Y or Z
Just because a salesperson has tenure doesn’t mean he or she is ready to take on every new task. Successful coaches will look to identify sales competency and skill gaps of their most tenured reps by asking simple questions like: “How would you do this,” or “What do you think?” Their answers will provide clear insight into the rep’s true expertise on the topic. From there the coach can look for efficient ways to fill the knowledge gaps, which may include everything from product demonstrations and basic orientation to tutorials on how to use the CRM software.
Do set tangible goals
New hires and veterans need to know what you expect of them on a continual basis. For this reason, it’s important to clearly outline – and update – their quotas and other goals, and then track their performance. Beginning with the end in mind helps sales teams drive to a realistic end goal that’s time bound. From there, elite managers typically work from the framework of SMART goals to help dictate pace and development. Modern learning tools like Allego’s sales learning and readiness platform make it easier to monitor each person’s learning progress and identify who will need more coaching in the future. With Allego’s on-demand sales coaching software, trainers and coaches create personalized pathways to individualize the tasks related to specific goals in order to accelerate the development process.
Don’t ask reps to ‘multitask’
If you were a novelist, you’d probably start by writing chapter 1, not a little bit of each chapter simultaneously. The same rule applies to effective coaching. For best results, work with your reps on improving one area at a time instead of every area all at once. Determine the skills and knowledge to be developed first, and move forward only after the rep has mastered those. Along the journey, successful coaches understand the proper way to utilize the three most common forms of feedback (praise, indirect, reprimand) to keep things moving in a positive and productive direction.
Do reinforce new knowledge
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times” is a patently untrue statement. For new information to sink in, people need learning reinforcement, as well as follow-up from their coaches. Allego Flash Drills can help reinforce new learning by sending push notifications to reps’ mobile devices, challenging them with quizzes that cover whatever topics you need them to master. Flash Drills also let you automatically track reps’ progress–or lack thereof–toward meeting their personalized goals.
Do use digital technology to communicate with your team
Few sales managers, especially those overseeing a distributed salesforce, have the bandwidth to coach every rep in-person and in real time. That’s why every coaching plan should be supported by easy-to-access digital communications tools (e.g., smartphones and tablets) that allow coaches to communicate with the team wherever and whenever they can spare a few moments.
Effective sales coaching is a leading performance driver when done correctly. For more on how modern sales learning solutions help organizations “coach the coach,” read the blog 3 Keys to Coaching the Coach by Mary Charles, Sales Enablement Director at Allego.