Not coaching your experienced sales people? You're making a huge mistake.
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Not coaching your experienced sales people? You're making a huge mistake.

I was speaking with a prospect on a cold call last week about their aims to start getting better at improving their new hires. The topic of conversation switched to their experienced reps and the day to day coaching they receive. I was shocked when the prospect said;

Our experienced consultants know what they’re doing. They’re smashing targets already, we don’t need to coach them.

Honestly, I was taken aback. I don’t think I’d ever heard someone say;

No it’s ok, our top guys can’t get any better than they already are.

As I finished the call (feeling pretty perplexed) I began thinking, is there ever a point where you become so experienced that you can’t become any better?

I thought of the other conversations I’ve had with prospects from the same industry, with similar sized teams and with the same challenges. These prospects had a completely different approach; their managers would regularly have one to ones with the consultants, they’d listen to calls and debrief afterwards, and would often roleplay different scenarios to prepare consultants for “real life”. Yet they still wanted more...

Sat back in the Refract office, I look around at our team. I’m still fairly new into the world of software sales and have no problem asking for help. I look at my colleagues, who are far more experienced than I am, and they have the same approach. On an hourly basis someone will say;

Can someone take five minutes to look at this call? I feel I could’ve done better.

And every so often there’ll be an excited shout;

I’ve just had THE BEST conversation, you guys have to hear it!

So, should more experience mean less or no coaching? Personally, I don’t think so.

Coaching, for me, looks at two different things: experience and skill. Very briefly, let’s look at the differences between the two.

Experience

A consultant may have been in a role for a long time, and be very successful at what they do. They’ll know how to build rapport with different prospects and clients, know how to get to pain points fast by picking up on subtle hints in the conversation, and know how best to overcome an objection based on previous conversations. But thi doesn’t mean they have the best skills compared to their peers. It could be that a new hire, fresh out of training, is better equipped to deal with a particular scenario because the skills needed are fresh in their mind.

Skill

Similarly, that same new hire - who’s eager to put these new found skills into place - wouldn’t be able to get the most out of a conversation because they’re sticking so rigidly to the structure or script they’ve been taught. They know they have to navigate x, y and z to get a successful outcome… in theory. Undoubtedly, that new hire will benefit from hearing about the experiences the longer standing consultant has in dealing with certain scenarios. Being able to layer real life experience with those fresh sales skills is invaluable, right?

What am I trying to get at?

Sales in any industry is a constantly evolving thing. New hires coming into a business will be more willing to suggest and try new approaches, they might see the process in a whole new light, whereas old hands can easily get stuck in ‘what’s always worked’. Any good, self-respecting sales person will strive constantly to be better (that’s how we make our money!) and a good manager should never take away a chance for their team to better themselves or learn something new. That’s why a manager’s number one role is that of a coach.

For me, coaching should be based on level-jumping individuals. Whether that’s helping newbies to get their first deal under their belt, getting an average performer to break through into the next level of commission, or promoting a top performer to be an absolute sales superstar.

No one should miss out on a coaching opportunity and sharing the skills and experience of each individual consultant will ultimately galvanise a team and drive their sales performance. Plus, as an added bonus, investing that time developing your top performers is likely to keep them with you for longer as you recognise and highlight what makes them so good.

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