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July 31, 2015

The video revolution comes to sales coaching

Providing visibility into specific presentation and selling tactics, video makes for breakthroughs in skill development

 

Coaching another person is about helping them to replace their weak points with stronger skills and techniques. Essential is to tailor the coaching feedback based on the current performance level achieved, so as to continually build skills in a step-wise fashion.

Now, if the person being coached is a beginner just starting out, the coach can often deliver generic advice on the fundamentals practically without observing the player at all. For a new golfer, it might be “watch the ball all the way through the swing”; for a new driver, “keep both hands on the wheel.” In sales, it might be “Always probe for the problem as the customer sees it.”

However, as the player develops skills, the coaches’ comments typically become more specific, relating to the fine points of the execution. Even championship-caliber athletes at times require coaching on minute details of their stance or swing or throw – this despite the fact that they have achieved mastery in their sport. At the expert level then, the ability for the coach to observe the performance makes all the difference.

The problem: surfacing advanced, coachable selling behaviors

 

For the athletic coach, it helps that the player performs right before their eyes – or better, is captured on video, which allows for a dissection of the play, and the development of incisive corrective action. Video also helps the player to grasp exactly what the coach is advising.

For a sales manager, sales coaching is likewise important to keep his or her team’s performance at its best. However, this can be particularly challenging in the case of a field sales person, since the coach rarely witnesses the actual “in-game” performance – the sales calls with customers – and has to develop coaching insights based primarily on the sales person’s after-action win/loss record, and impressions of the meeting.

Without this visibility, the sales manager is at a disadvantage. Their coaching comments may be more generalized rather than specific, and in fact may be informed by the behaviors the coach isable to observe – the sales person’s work habits, or personal mannerisms – rather than actual “game time” behaviors with the customer. It’s a bit like coaching Tiger Woods’ putting game by watching him put ketchup on a cheeseburger.

The magic of sales performance recording

 

As mobile technologies are becoming mainstream in the workplace, video is growing in importance as a source of information and insight. And groundbreaking applications are helping companies discover the amazing value that can be accomplished by leveraging video to capture information and improve communication, insight and performance.

Sales organizations have found what they describe as an almost “magical” added value, as it becomes the norm for sales people to record themselves performing presentations and pitches, which are then shared with managers and often with their peers for coaching and feedback. As video sales coaching becomes the norm for mastering pitches, sales managers have a vastly expanded toolset for elevating the performance of their selling team.

Viewing the sales person’s best performance – especially alongside those of other sales people – gives the manager the ability to refine all aspects of the pitch, from the messaging and flow, to style of delivery, use of stories, eye contact, and more. Even better, by sharing the work of various sales people, the best attributes of each can quickly become adopted across the sales team, elevating the skill of all. Much like bottling your best performers, sales managers finally have a means to truly impact the skill level of that middle 60% of their people, infusing their work with the best skills of the top 20%.

Typically, sales people find the addition of video to be a huge positive. The sales person will witness their pitch from the point of view of the customer often for the very first time. This helps them improve their performance even before getting feedback from their manager and peers – a natural, given that most of us tend to be our own worst critics.

The addition of coaching feedback, plus cross-pollination of selling ideas from team members, and the discipline of rehearsing and recording your best presentation all work together to amplify the sales person’s performance to its very best.

One Allego customer, the president of a mutual fund marketing organization, has a two word description for the effect that video coaching has had on his sales organization: “It’s fabulous.” Which is why we believe that video-based sales coaching is quickly becoming the new normal in business.

 

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