Can we all agree for a moment that good coaching will help your sales reps to sell smarter and not just harder?
And that in selling smarter, they will consistently sell more products/services in less time?
Okay, if we’re in agreement with this fundamental truth then why it is that so few companies actively coach their reps?
I’m not talking about “my door is always open and I am available to help you out” kind of coaching. I am talking about scheduled, 1 to 1 coaching on a consistent basis. You know what I mean: the ‘sleeves-rolled-up-hunkered-down-beside-your-rep-in-their-cubicle’ kind of coaching.
Why don’t we coach? It boils down to six fundamental reasons. Do any of these apply to you?
1. No time
When honest and when pressed to be perfectly candid, most sales managers acknowledge that they simply do not have the time to proactively coach their sales reps; they’re busy. The real question is this: busy at what? At meetings? Working on spreadsheets? Important projects? Strategy sessions and planning? Time sheets? Verifying expenses? Scheduling? Hiring?
Here’s a moment of truth: while all these tasks and activities have merit and are legitimate they do NOT directly contribute to bottom line sales revenue!
To provide some additional perspective, answer the following questions (honestly):
– Who plans and organizes a call?
– Who picks up the phone and dials the prospect?
– Who qualifies and questions the prospect?
– Who presents your product or service?
– Who tackles the objections?
– Who asks for the sale?
– Who follows up on leads?
– Who interfaces with your existing customers?
– Who generates the sale and the revenue?
Last time I checked, a completed spread sheet does not bring dollars in the door. And as near as I can figure it, a meeting hasn’t resulted in a breakthrough revenue month.
Your sales reps generate the revenue. Help them get better at doing just that. The better they are the more they’ll sell. You HAVE the time. You’re just not spending it effectively. This is understandable. Coaching is one of those “important not urgent” activities. Look after the important and the urgent will take care of itself.
Find the time. Every single day. About 20% of your day should be devoted to this task. Yes: twenty percent. Do it and watch your sales grow and sustain itself.
2. Sales reps don’t like it
There is no question about it: some sales reps don’t like the idea of coaching. They don’t want a “big brother” monitoring their calls beside them or from a remote location.
Unless they ‘re blowing the doors off their sales objectives tell them to get used to it. They will if you do it right.
It’s simple: what sales reps don’t like is a poor coach; a coach who criticizes but does precious little to develop their skill set. Someone who wastes their time. Sales reps don’t want a manager who says, “Here’s what I would have said,” or “Back in my day, here’s how I handled that objection” or words to that effect. That’s subjective, ad hoc coaching. They might be interesting war stories but they do precious little to develop and nurture a skill set.
Sales reps want an objective, unbiased assessment of their call and selling approach. They want constructive feedback. They want information that will make them more successful.
Of course, what this really means is that for reps to enjoy coaching and benefit from it, then YOU had better be good at it. If you’re not, learn how. (See #6)
3. Sales managers don’t like it
No argument here. Most sales managers don’t like burrowing down and monitoring and analyzing taped calls or y-jacking themselves to a rep at their workstation. I can understand and appreciate this.
Why? Because it’s tough work. Quite frankly, it can sometimes be tedious and boring. And there are so many other things the manager could be doing. (Like working on a spread sheet or attending the fourth meeting of the day.)
Get used to it.
Never, ever forget that your career and/or financial success are directly linked to the sales rep in the chair in the cubicle with a telephone in their hand. If you can’t spend the time there then you shouldn’t be a manager. It’s as simple as that. Period. End of sentence.
Learn to like it. Or don’t learn to like it and do it anyway.
4. Don’t need to coach
Some companies don’t coach because they say they don’t need to coach. Why? Because they hire experienced reps.
What a bunch of malarkey.
Experienced sales reps do not necessarily make successful sales reps. Some reps take longer to learn; some struggle with new target markets; some are just plain confused; some are experienced and lousy.
A couple of months ago I watched Tiger Woods win about a billion dollars in some match. He’s an experienced golfer! He doesn’t need a coach, right?
Oh wait, he has one. Beside him was his objective coach who helped him re-engineer his swing. Tiger will earn about a gazillion dollars this year because he knows the value of the coach to his game. Understand this, experience counts for nothing until the dollars flow in and flow in consistently each and every month. Everyone needs a coach. Some more than others. But everyone needs one. If you don’t agree with that you’re kidding yourself.
5. Don’t know the value
Some companies and some managers don’t coach because they don’t understand the value of the process. Usually these are situations occur when companies provide intense and thorough training. They feel the training should suffice.
Here’s what happens. The day sales reps leave the training rooms is the day their knowledge begins to decline. They begin to forget 56 seconds after the training stops. Training is like shoveling ten pounds of sand into a five pound bag. At some point, no more sand can enter and it uselessly flows off to the side.
It’s the same with sales skills and product knowledge training. Companies cram a ton of information into the heads of their sales reps not realizing their reps forget or confuse it. Coaching helps reinforce the good that was taught. Coaching helps modify and change bad that develops. Coaches serve and act as cheerleaders. Coaches’ serve and act like consciences reminding their team members to stay the course. Coaching protects the training investment. It’s valuable. Priceless, in fact.
6. Don’t know how
Some managers don’t coach because they don’t know how. Thank the stars for this refreshing bit of honesty. It’s perfectly okay it you don’t know how. It’s not okay if you remain blissfully ignorant.
If you don’t know how to coach do something about it. Buy some books or get some DVDs or whatever. Take a course. Visit my web site and learn about my coaching workshops. Or call me. Or go to one of my competitors. I really don’t care. But do SOMETHING!
And even if you do coach, are you a good coach? How do you know? Could you be a better coach? Go here if you want to be a better coach.
Okay, are guilty of any of these?
If so, give your head a shake. Start proactively coaching. Don’t wait. Nothing will bring BETTER and more sustained sales results than coaching. Nothing. Not a good incentive program, not a good contest and not a great spiff. These activities may get your reps to work harder (for a while) but not smarter. Smarter selling means bigger sales. You’ll be hero.