Revenue Storm has been studying coaching for years across different cultures, companies, and geographies. We evaluated why some leaders coach better than others. We even considered whether coaching is a learned skill or a function of someone’s personality traits.
The good news is, while some personality traits make it easier to coach, coaching is a skill anyone can learn. We acknowledge most good sales coaches generally have a background of real sales experience. Just as in sports, where the best coaches were typically good (not necessarily great) players in that sport previously, the same is true with sales coaching.
We have encountered some organizations that believe sales coaching is the equivalent to being a life coach in the business world. They use people from many different business functions to be sales coaches, following a structured format with a standard set of questions to ask. However, our experience has proven good sales coaching requires the coach’s ability to provide valued sales insight and perspective to their salespeople. Sales coaches need both empathy and personal wisdom learned from other sales successes and failures to pay it forward to other salespeople.
So, how can you tell if you are delivering valuable sales coaching? If you are, your coaching will be in high demand. Salespeople will come to you proactively for more coaching, rather than you having to chase them. One way to distinguish sales coaching from management reviews, which tend to be more inspection related, is salespeople are not enthusiastically lining up for the latter!
It takes time to hone your skills as a sales coach, but it is well worth it. It will make your team more self-sufficient and enable them to focus on more important aspects of winning a deal than they ever did before.
So, what is the number one outcome of good sales coaching? An energized salesperson/team! They should leave with more confidence to execute the agreed actions. They will probably be bolder than what they would have considered before or agree on a different course of action than they have executed before, but the coaching discussion should still raise their commitment to that agreed course of action. People must leave motivated, more positive, and energized.
How do you do that – building energy into the team? We use Einstein’s theory of energy, Energy = MC2 but just change what the acronym stands for.
Energy = MC2 reminds coaches to:
- Be Motivating – You need to be real and transparent, but in the end, you need to reach a result that will motivate the action they should take. Make sure they know you are collaborating to ensure THEIR success and the agreed actions will help them on that path to success. Communicate verbally you believe they can accomplish the tasks well.
- Be Consistent – Share your agenda and coaching format with attendees in advance so they know what, if anything, they must complete as prework. If you expect prework, keep it limited to 30 minutes maximum, and be sure you look at it and use it. There is no motivation for them to do it next time if you didn’t look at it or reference it the first time. Plus, consistency reduces people’s stress, which makes them more open to brainstorming, collaborating, and adopting your coaching insights.
- Contribute value – Share valuable insights they may not have considered yet. It is human nature to get caught up in a sales opportunity you want to win, and sometimes stepping back and hearing the point-of-view from someone they respect will help them get ”above the trees” to see the bigger picture. Your perspective from having seen more sales opportunities or having dealt with more business roles at clients and prospects can be invaluable. Sure, asking them questions that make them think is part of good coaching, but not more so than helping the team consider other options and opportunities to broaden the value proposition, or even gaps in their execution plan or strategy.
We recommend a sales leader pick one or two days a week to coach each direct reports once every two weeks. It usually just takes up a few hours at a time and can pay huge dividends for your team’s success. It will also give you personal enjoyment knowing you are helping people win more, rather than being focused on their activities or inactivity. If you want help, we are the help. Helping sales leaders become better sales coaches is one of Revenue Storm’s most important missions.
Plan to coach more over the next quarter. Send calendar appointments out today. We suggest holding a few hours every Monday and Friday for coaching, so you can get to each salesperson at least once every two weeks. That is just a few hours each week depending on your team size for 12 weeks. We are confident it will pay big dividends in just that short amount of time. Your team’s motivation and level of collaboration will increase, as will their success!