As a sales coach, people always ask me two things: Why does coaching for sales teams matter and how do I know my team needs it?
Answering the first is simple: people get better faster with coaching. This fact is particularly true in sales, where mastering human interaction and all its intricacies is an ongoing process akin to developing a body builder physique. While you can go to the gym by yourself and grow your muscles, having a trained eye to tweak your technique and approach make results happen quicker and more dramatically. The same is true with sales coaching. The experienced sales eye and ear can help prevent, and heal, the problems with which ail sales teams struggle.
Knowing your team needs coaching is a slightly different matter. The most common complaint we see is teams not hitting their numbers. If that’s the symptom of needing coaching, then what are the underlying causes? Here are three I have seen in my years working with sales teams.
- Inconsistent messaging that misses the mark and doesn’t communicate key points. Teams that struggle tend to say different things and tell different stories. The lack of cohesive messaging makes every sales conversation a one off, ripe with potential customer confusion and reputation risk. A good sales coach, assisted by technologies like Refract, can bring together the messaging and then bring the team together around the message.
- Too much talk about your own pain and not enough talk about the prospect’s pain. When the talk around the water cooler is primarily about the sales person’s pain and the onerous sales processes, then something is amiss. Your team will succeed faster and with greater impact when the total focus of the individual is the pain of the prospect and alleviating that pain with your product or service. Simply put, who is the hero of the story your team is telling. Is it you? Or your prospect? The sales coach will help people connect into a deeper sense of purpose that will make them more concerned with serving than selling.
- Lack of self-awareness of the reps which shows up in your 1 on 1s as lack of engagement. Think about your last round of 1 on 1s. How effective were they? Were your reps engaged in the process? Do they have awareness around what they are good at and what they aren’t good at? Coaching provides a structure for self-evaluation and growth. That self-awareness, and the investment made by the company to get the rep to that point, serve to engage the rep more deeply into he success of the sales team and the company. Sales coaches act as the mirror in which reps can see what they really look like and what they need to do to improve themselves.
These three red flags are signs your team can benefit from coaching. Whether it is the internal resources who coach, or external experts brought in to coach, the act of focusing a sales culture around coaching, and the openness to improvement and personal growth that goes along with it will provide profitable benefits. Consistent messaging, a focus on the prospect’s pain, and greater self-awareness are but three of those benefits.
Greater engagement in the team, the culture and the company may be the biggest benefit. Having interviewed hundreds of salespeople, the most common thing they want is acknowledgement and support. Providing an effective coaching program gives both: acknowledgement of the value of the rep by investing in the coaching and the support to grow and get better results.