Do salespeople seek out your coaching on their pursuits? If not, pick up something new here. A simple add to your coaching approach can elevate the experience salespeople have with you. AND get some more wins on the board.
It is during your coaching sessions that salespeople are finally prompted to out-think and out-maneuver their competitors. Are they getting that from you?
In this article, we will explore how the traditional approach to coaching is falling short for sales coaches and how following one simple perspective shift will turn you into a sought-after coach. World-class sales coaches provide practical, real-world examples of how to implement change throughout.
Has The Formal Sales Coaching Approach You Have Been Taught Leading You Astray?
Many formalized coaching approaches focus primarily on asking questions. Unfortunately, simply asking questions falls annoyingly short for salespeople who are under pressure. Asking the salesperson, a lot of questions becomes an unwelcome interrogation that takes precious time they do not have.
While questions are critical to coaching, they are not the POINT of coaching. The point of pursuit coaching is collaborative strategizing where you JOIN in the conversation vs. just asking questions. You aren’t withholding your point of view. You are in fact offering your thinking and experience as engines to the collaborative strategy sessions.
The goal of sales coaching is to advance the pursuit, advance the capability of the salesperson, and advance their confidence and willingness to take action. You accomplish this when you bring coaching, mentoring, strategizing, and practicing to your coaching approach.
|Coaching||A coach guides self-reflection and discovery|
|Mentoring||A mentor shares their knowledge, skills, experience|
|Strategizing||A collaborator engages in creative brainstorming, idea testing and scenario planning|
|Practicing||A teacher provides opportunities to try new things, provide feedback, and explore different approaches|
ACTION: Reflect on these 4 approaches then add, emphasize, or get better at one more of these. With that perspective shift about how sales coaching takes a different approach from other types of coaching, here are some quick tips to elevate the experience your salespeople have with you.
Create The Right Coaching Environment
Elevate your coaching by creating a unique environment separate from the pace of the sales environment.
1. Protect the Space
Allow the salesperson to think, consider, ponder, test, take risks. Shut the door, shut down communications, and get focused and allow critical and creative thinking to happen. They benefit from and deserve your full engagement. Sales can be a fast-moving, emotional experience so let us genuinely talk it through, get unemotional, let’s bounce some ideas around.
Even seriously experienced salespeople seek this type of private forum with a sought-after coach. (Bill Wallace)
2. Free Their Brain to Engage
Do not leave the salesperson preoccupied wondering if this coaching will be a waste of their time. Find out what they would value most from this session and add that as a goal for the coaching session.
“In X time from now, looking back, what would have been a good use of your time?” (Ian Ramsbottom)
3. Get on The Same Page
Use the completed Revenue Storm tools/apps to quickly get the context and full story. Ensure your time together is not spent “getting you up to speed.” Instead, we are able to quickly identify where the focus needs to be to win. Then get going.
“Before you tell me the details, tell me what you are trying to do. What is your story? Tell me your story like I am a 3rd-grade student. Brief, clear, plain language.” (Bill Wallace)
Once they share their perspective and you have listened then it is time to engage.
Usher In Their Deep Thinking
Elevate your coaching by prompting deep thinking not just “answers.”
1. Be The Mirror
Raise self-awareness of their current behaviors, habits, thoughts, and beliefs. We are all caught in habitual ways of thinking, being, and doing that stops us from seeing what is possible. Share your non-judgmental observations as a question.
“Is there a possibility that when we look across and see x, y, and z, how it might be us exasperating the situation?”
2. What Is the Evidence
They finally have time to think more deeply so don’t allow dismissive remarks or quick answers without thought. Probe and help them consider the evidence substantiating a belief or issue. Challenge their assumptions. Challenge their expectations.
“You shared that we have differentiated ourselves on this pursuit. Let’s look at the evidence that leads you to that conclusion.” (Martin Prescott)
3. Freedom To Expand
Interrupt the typical pace of “ready, fire, aim.” Use your experience, exposure to other pursuits, and thought leadership to nurture their expanding thinking. Start with a short question to expand the dialogue.
“Let’s slow down here and you tell me about your objectives for your next meeting with the Selection Committee?” (Vince Corica)
“Let’s think through the risks so we can strengthen our approach.” (Lon Cunninghis)
Intentionally Go for the “Spark of Insight”
Elevate your coaching by intentionally taking their thinking to new places.
1. Prompt Them, Prompt Them Again
Your job is to trigger “sparks of insight” to provoke their thinking.
Prompt their thinking by reflecting together on their ideas. Prompt with thought leadership (mentoring and account research). Prompt with sparks of insight from apps/tools. (Ilsa Mendoza-Jackson)
2. “What Would They Say/Feel …”
Sketch an empathy map from design thinking. This generates new perspectives and/or reframes a situation. This forces them to articulate situations from their clients/prospects/customer/ops perspective.
“What would your client’s operations say about working with us under those conditions?” (Ilsa Mendoza-Jackson)
Now you have ideas for advancing the pursuit. Now Do Something with It.
Elevate your coaching by motivating them to act on their ideas.
1. Focus Them by Clarifying
Clarify at various points the goals, plans, actions, ramifications, barriers, etc. to begin to construct a clear path forward. Assist them by connecting the dots.
What are the next actions you are taking in the deal?
What are your supporters doing to help you win?
Who are the key competitors and who is supporting them?
What is the close date based upon? (Lon Cunninghis)
Remind them of how these action items connect to WHY they want something. Be realistic and encourage them as to why this might work or might not, but they have to get on the field of play and see.
“So here are the action items: x y z. (6 or less) Was this productive? We will move this opportunity forward really fast. The concern is if we don’t move quickly, we will find ourselves well behind the pack.” (Bill Wallace)
3. Engender Commitment
Do not part ways without getting a clear view of what they are willing to commit to doing and in what time frame. Leading them to think concretely about the specifics of moving forward will help them build momentum.
“Do you agree with me that we have some real challenges here? With your agreement we can get this done. Are you willing to drive this thing? What will you start with?” (Bill Wallace)
Elevated coaching is being able to create this experience reliably and repeatedly with salespeople, which in turn increases their learning and excitement for the profession of sales, making you a sought-after coach. Equip them to outperform the competition, captivate the clients, and secure another win.
Consider what you can personally strengthen in your approach: coaching, mentoring, strategizing, or practicing and launch your elevated coaching practice.