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Four Simple Tips for Better Sales Coaching

Looking for practical advice on how to do more and better sales coaching? Here are four tips to get you started.Image we are here to help

1. Stop doing e-mail first thing in the morning. Instead, coach somebody.

You know what happens when you check your e-mail. There’s some  “hair-on-fire” issue waiting in your in-box that demands your immediate attention. But nine times out of 10, it’s a distraction that is important to somebody else but not to you. And once you head off down that road, another distraction pops up. The next thing you know your day is gone and you never had a chance to coach anybody.

The fix is to make a coaching interaction with a salesperson the first thing you do every day. Schedule a coaching session with a rep for 8-9 AM every day.

2. Coach forwards, not backwards.

Many sales managers wait until a rep badly misses a forecast before “coaching” that rep back to life. It’s as if the manager is saying, “If you’re bad enough I’ll coach you.”

The problem with this backward-looking approach is that your coaching is disconnected from the rep’s behaviors — you don’t really know where the rep went wrong, just that they got a bad result. So you have no choice but to fall back on that tired old sales management maxim, “Make more sales calls!”

To be a more effective coach, intervene much earlier in the sales process so you can “coach forward.” Pay attention to the things your reps are doing during the first round of interactions with a customer or prospect. How good are they at helping diagnose customer needs? At defining solution criteria? At reaching multiple decision makers? Getting better at these early-cycle skills will have a much greater impact on results than simply making more calls!

3. Think outside the box to get salespeople to work harder.

One sales manager I know asked his sales rep what she planned to do if she exceeded her annual sales goal. “Buy a new car,” said the rep. A few weeks later the manager showed up for a ride-along driving a rental car that was the same make and model of car that the rep’s goal was to achieve!

Get creative with the motivators for your reps. Think about both their personal goals (like a new car) and professional goals, such as having them attend a meeting with your company’s senior leadership.

4. Act as if you care.

I recently asked an audience of sales managers, “What is your best-kept secret to being an effective sales coach?” One manager answered, “Act as if you care.”

Everybody in the class broke up laughing, because of course we all already know and do that, right?

Not so fast. As a coach you show that you care through your consistent follow-up on coaching conversations. When you coach a rep to make changes, you must then monitor the rep’s behavior to make sure those changes have been made… and if not, provide more coaching so that the changes are made.

As you can see from this list, improved coaching doesn’t have to be very complicated. I’m sure you know how to implement these four tips … so the real question is whether you are willing to make some simple changes in your own approach so that your team will benefit from better coaching and improved results.

A Sales Coach Learns from Others How to be Great

How you have been managed by others influences how you manage your sales team today. No doubt, you have learned to lead others largely from your previous experiences – from both the best and worst practices of others. Often this technique of learning from your bosses works well, but sometimes it does not. Here’s one example.

Jack is a sales director for a leading technology company who shared the following story with me recently. I had asked Jack to tell me about his “worst boss ever.” The boss had been a micro-manager who tried to control everything. The boss’ management style had driven Jack absolutely crazy. So much so, that Jack changed jobs and became a salesperson at a different company.

A few years later Jack received a promotion of his own – to a sales director’s responsibility.  He resolved to himself that he would not become a micromanager. He was determined to avoid that same fate at all costs in his own management style. And so he adopted a more participative, “hands-off” management style. Everything worked out great, right? Wrong!

Jack’s company conducted an extensive survey of their sales force and asked questions of salespeople about their managers. The feedback Jack received was startling – on an 80-question survey, his sales team had rated him dead-last when responding to, “Views one of his/her top priorities as developing my individual skills.” Ouch!

Jack realized that he had over-corrected. While he had intended to avoid micro-managing, his own sales team had come to view him as a boss unwilling to coach.

As part of his anti-micromanager approach, Jack would often wait until the final stages of a sales opportunity – as the rep’s forecasted close date arrived – – to do “opportunity coaching” with his reps. Which meant that he didn’t have any insights in to what a rep had done until the fate of the deal was already sealed. And the reps perceived his “suggestions” as criticism, because the correct time for applying his suggestions had already come and gone. Jack realized that he had become a Monday-morning quarterback.

One of the definitions of a good sales leader is someone who can lead and motivate a sales team. Jack’s #1 priority was the coaching and development of his salespeople. Jack realized he needed to have a look in the mirror and make some significant changes in his leadership style.Man in the mirror

After seeing the results of the survey and asking questions of his reps, Jack made the connection between his detached coaching style and some of the missed forecasts and sure-thing deals that had been lost at the last-minute.

To fix this problem, he focused on creating, by his words and actions, a culture of proactive coaching and teaching. And you know what Jack discovered? He had put his past negative experiences with the old sales manager aside, and was comfortable in his new role as a hands-on sales coach and teacher.

Getting involved in reviewing progress much earlier in a sales cycle gave Jack better visibility on what was going on. Now he knew exactly what each of his salespeople needed to do to get to their next level of development. Sales productivity went up, as did morale.

Perhaps most importantly, Jack learned that effective leaders must be willing look themselves in the mirror and consider the possibility that there is room for self-improvement. And then, seek feedback from your reps about what changes you can make. Jack’s three favorite questions to ask his reps are:
1. What are you getting from me that you find most helpful?
2. What am I doing that doesn’t help you at all?
3. What could I start doing to help you more? Why would that help?

Develop in yourself the quality of introspection. Continually look in the mirror and seek to make changes in your own leadership style to improve yourself and your team’s results.

Trust, but Verify to Win More Forecasted Deals

Blog Image boy with arrowOne of the biggest frustrations sales managers have occurs when deals forecasted by salespeople to close – don’t close. What’s the problem here? Both salespeople and sales managers are optimists by heart. So it’s easy for sales managers to believe reps’ rosy forecasts, especially when the sales rep has performed everything described in their company’s sales funnel or CRM.

During the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan used the slogan “trust, but verify” when describing his policy toward the Soviet Union. And this is the same slogan that effective sales managers need to keep in mind when talking with salespeople about important sales opportunities.

Effective sales managers know how to temper the salesperson’s enthusiasm by finding ways to verify their reps’ optimism.

A VP of Sales came to this conclusion herself during a recent sales management workshop. Her main “aha”, she said, came when I was talking about how to improve the outcomes from opportunity management and sales forecasting. I’d challenged the audience of sales managers and VPs of Sales to think about how they really know what the customer is doing at each step of the sales process, because the customer’s actions are a much better indicator of progress than a sales rep’s actions.

As she thought about her own company’s sales funnel, the VP realized that it didn’t reflect customer actions at all. And the “won-lost” analysis her sales organization did occurred far too late in the sales cycle. That led to a disconnect that made it hard to identify the mistakes that led to a loss—and obviously did no good in helping a sales rep repair the damage and salvage an endangered deal.

The VP told me, “If a salesperson told me they’d nailed a presentation or had a sale that was a sure-thing, I’d believe them. But now I realize I have to get more validation based on what our customers are doing. That means I have to adopt a more investigative coaching style and get involved much earlier in the sales process.” That’s trust, but verify.

And so that’s what she did. Now, she asks buyer-focused questions about forecasted deals that will reveal whether a sales rep has a handle on what is going on – or not.

For example, early on, she asks, “What is the title of the decision-maker with whom you’ve been meeting? What do they care about most?”

She has the rep document this information in the CRM… and then by comparing records from different sales, she can see the level of decision-makers that a rep has been meeting with on the largest opportunities.

Also, she’ll talk to a rep before they submit a proposal or do a demo and ask, “Who is our competition? What will the customer think are our strongest points compared to that competition? Where are we weak?” A sales rep who is clueless about who he/she is up against is not prepared to deliver a presentation.

Asking more probing questions of reps serves three important purposes:

First, she knows a lot more about what the customers are doing in their buying cycle, and therefore has much more realistic forecasts.

Second, it helps her understand at a much deeper level where her reps are strong and where they are weak. So she can be a better sales coach.

Third, she sees mistakes her salespeople make much earlier in the buying cycle than she did before. So she can step in and apply her superior sales skills sooner to get the deal back on track – before it’s too late.

Improving sales managers’ visibility and coaching of the earlier stages of a deal is crucial to winning bigger deals and keeping the top of your funnel filled with higher quality sales opportunities.

Hiring Tips for a Sales Manager Position

Far too many times I have had SVPs and CEOs report to me that the only thing they paid much attention to when hiring sales directors and managers was whether the candidate had a successful portfolio in revenue attainment. Yes, managing sales numbers, quotas, and data effectively is very important in a sales leadership role. But a sales director or sales manager can only achieve their numbers through others — so they also have to be effective leaders of people. Any firm that is looking to hire or promote into a sales leadership position should become aware of the qualities that make leaders successful.

Here are suggestions for four questions you should ask candidates who are interviewing for a sales leadership role.blog checking boxes

“What do you think the difference is between being a sales rep and managing a sales team?” What you want to hear in clear and concise language is the understanding that sales leaders need to get things done through the people that they manage, not through their own sales efforts.  You don’t just want to hear a report on how many of the reps made quota, or details of a few big deals they have worked on. What you want to hear is someone who can focus on developing overall team health, developing the performance of everyone, not just one or two people.

“How would you determine the areas for improvement for your salespeople?” A candidate who is less likely to be an effective manager will talk only (or mostly) about doing win/loss debriefs,  focusing primarily on data/results/outcomes. A better candidate is the person who recognizes they can have a bigger impact on outcomes if they look at the input side of the sales performance equation— i.e., the daily behaviors and activities of their salespeople. By looking at inputs, a sales manager can detect reps’ mistakes sooner and make the necessary corrections by helping the rep set goals, providing more timely coaching, following up on rep commitments, and so on.

“What type of manager rubs you the wrong way?” The answer to this question will help you understand the natural tendencies of the candidate. What you’re hoping to hear are answers related to behaviors you want your sales leaders to avoid—for example, comments about sales managers who don’t engage with sales reps or who step in and take over too quickly so that the reps never learn for themselves how to improve. (As an aside, you can also use this question with current sales managers to help you during a 360-type of evaluation.) A sales manager recently told me he didn’t like managers who would try to micromanage top performers. However, when the company surveyed the sales team they discovered that the reps didn’t view this manager as a good leader. They saw his “hands off” approach as an unwillingness to provide coaching, skill building, and feedback to his salespeople. This sales manager learned an important lesson – that how he saw himself was not necessarily how his team saw him. And so he changed.

Assuming the candidate has some experience as a sales manager, ask him or her an open ended question like, “Tell me your secrets to managing and leading a sales team – what do you do specifically?” Then listen carefully for their answer. Less capable applicants will answer in non-specific ways, and then quickly pivot to what they know how to do best… they talk about sales techniques.

By asking more questions targeted at testing the candidate’s understanding of how to lead a team, not just managing the numbers, you’ll end up with more effective sales leaders who can create high achieving sales teams.

What External Factors Motivate Salespeople?

Many sales managers with whom I have worked believe that motivation comes solely from within, not from external factors. Managers who think this way disconnect from the idea that they have an impact on sales rep motivation; they think motivation is just part of a sales rep’s internal makeup and therefore don’t see motivation as part of their job description.

We all know that there is a large internal component to motivation. But there are also external factors at play that affect the level of motivation —money, achievement, recognition, and responsibility, for example. These are all factors that you as a sales manager can influence with effective sales coaching skills.

Here are three suggestions for things you can do as a sales manager to stimulate motivation levels on your team.blog image think big

Help your sales reps to create stretch goals. Often we sales managers focus entirely on sales quotas and ignore sales reps’ personal goals. But it’s these personal goals that are the fuel that sparks personal achievement. Discover what your reps are passionate about in life, what drives them to succeed. The goals may include college tuition for children, paying off the mortgage, or even running a marathon. Help them to connect the dots between what they achieve on the job and what they can achieve in life, and they will be more likely to create stretch goals — and believe they can attain those goals.

Delegate problems back to the sales rep. Resist the temptation to be everyone’s problem solver. When sales reps try to hand off their problems to you, don’t accept their “gift.” Instead, ask them, “What have you done about it so far?” and “What do you think ought to be done?” Then encourage active problem solving, engage in role-playing activities, and promote team collaboration to help them understand the best way to attack their problem. Work to develop sound bites or methods of breaking through common problems that reps may encounter during the sales process. When you improve your sales team’s ability to solve problems on their own, you increase self-confidence and motivate them towards achieving even more.

Provide early-pipeline coaching. Because they have to be concerned about “what is closing this month,” sales managers often don’t initiate pipeline conversations with their sales reps until a deal is in later stages of the sales funnel. But by that point, there is very little they can do as a sales manager to affect the outcome — the size of the deal and the probability of success are largely determined in the earlier stages of the pipeline. The failure of the coaching effort, in turn, can have a demotivating impact on sales rep success. To win a sale that is downstream in the pipeline, sales reps have to master the upstream steps — such as identifying multiple customer needs, reaching multiple decision makers, understanding the competition, and tying your solution to the customer’s priority requirements.  Work with your reps when opportunities are still young, and your coaching efforts will have a bigger effect.

How Untrained Sales Managers Impact Sales Growth

Many companies spend heavily in sales rep training, but are sometimes disappointed when they see little impact on sales growth. Ironically, lack of results from sales training can often be traced to a lack of sales manager training. New skills or methods that reps pick up from sales training fall by the wayside because untrained sales managers often aren’t effective at holding salespeople accountable for implementation.Blog Post -confusing directions

Untrained sales managers are prone to a number of problems that can hinder their effectiveness and limit the achievement of their sales teams. Unless they are provided with the knowledge and skills on how to be a sales leader, untrained sales managers may cause the following problems:

Fall back on their sales instincts rather than develop a leader mindset. Because they don’t know how to be an effective sales manager, a promoted salesperson may feel the adrenaline rush again of being that “über-salesperson” and want to chase the big deals. Chasing the big deals means they will spend most of their time with their top salespeople. That leaves the rest of the sales team—the people who need the most help—to sink or swim on their own without a leader/coach.

Focus too much energy where it does little good. Untrained sales managers, commonly, focus much of their coaching time on their poorest performers. In other words, reps don’t get coaching unless they do really poorly! One-on-one coaching will have a much bigger impact on the middle performers — people who are showing promise and eager to learn. Improve their skills and you’ve got more peak performers!

Lack consistency. If a sales manager has no training, they have no predictable management process or common coaching language. This can become confusing to sales reps if the coaching message is not well defined, or is subject to change. This can affect the sales manager’s credibility, and the confidence of the sales team that the process will actually led to sales success. It also makes measuring results very challenging. We all know that a common sales process is crucial for effective selling – so why not have a common sales management process, too?

Not manage time effectively, or know how to set and enforce priorities. Sales managers can easily become buried in “stuff” work, and have reactive “hair on fire” responses to problems, leaving them overwhelmed as a result. They’re working harder than ever but are unable to catch up, and have no time for what should be their #1 priority, to coach salespeople.

Fail to develop or enforce performance standards. Inexperienced or untrained sales managers often don’t know how to develop and enforce high standards on their team. They can’t define for their reps what a “success profile” looks like—the skills (abilities) and wills (attitudes) needed to excel in the profession. If they don’t know what success looks like, it’s impossible to steer people in the right direction.

Fail to follow-up. Untrained sales managers make suggestions to salespeople on how to improve and then assume that person will implement their suggestions. Managers who fail to follow-up create a team culture that’s lacking in accountability.

For these reasons and many more, sales manager training is critical.

Sales managers are often top-performing salespeople who have been promoted into management positions. Their background and experience has honed their sales skills, but done nothing to prepare them to be manager-leaders. That’s why, to get the most out of your sales training investment, the best first step is to focus on your sales managers — make sure they have the tools and training to do their jobs more effectively!

 

Four Habits of Great Sales Coaches

Effective sales coaching is the daily investment you make in developing the success of others. Here are four habits that the best sales coaches work into their daily routine:

Share your real-life experiences

The principles of success that you learned as a sales professional deserve to be taught! And there is no better way to teach others than through the sharing of your personal stories and examples. It may take you a bit longer, but it is well worth it.

Think through your biggest sales wins, and losses. What did you do right?

If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message is of little use. For this reason, you will often hear a great sales coach say, “For example…” because they know that their personal stories are the most effective way to communicate.

Lead by example

I know you’re thinking, “yeah, sure. Everybody says this.” But do you actually do it?

For example, surely you wouldn’t want your salespeople to go to a customer meeting without thinking through their agenda, objectives, and next steps. But do you do the same when you meet with your team? Are you prepared with an agenda and objectives? If not, what kind of message does that send?

Similarly, I bet you want your salespeople to do more listening than talking when they deal with prospects and customers. Which do you do more of when you’re dealing with them? Are you a listener or a talker?

Your salespeople are watching everything you do, so these little things count for a lot. So take a critical look at all of your interactions with your sales team. What kind of example are you setting? You must set a standard of excellence, not just talk about the importance of others being excellent.

Teach salespeople to slow down

Last Summer I was watching a San Francisco Giants baseball game. It was the bottom of the 9th, the Giants were ahead 2-1. The Giants’ relief pitcher walked the first three batters he faced. Bases loaded, no outs.

That’s when Giants manager Bruce Boche strode to the mound … and the relief pitcher subsequently struck out the next three batters he faced. The Giants won the game.

In the post-game press conference a reporter asked Boche what he said to the relief pitcher. Boche said he told his pitcher, “Slow down. Don’t rush the pitch.”

Boche went on to explain…. “In a stressful situation a pitcher can be so anxious about what will happen when the ball crosses the plate that he forgets about the mechanics of what he needs to do to make an effective pitch.”

The sales profession, too, is chock-full of stress. Your salespeople often forget about their mechanics. They rush their pitch, and can end up losing the game.

Effective sales coaches get their salespeople to slow down, by which I mean that they teach their salespeople to think through the mechanics of what they need to be doing at each stage of the sales process. They help salespeople identify what the customer needs to do to move to the next step in their buying process, and then provide that customer with the right information to make that step happen quickly.

Focus on ABC  – Always Be Coaching

Less effective sales managers take a hands-off approach with their salespeople. They don’t bother to coach, unless or until one of their salespeople fails or has a lousy month. Then the manager inflicts a coaching process on the poor producer. This is the equivalent of saying, “When you fail, I’ll coach you. But otherwise you’re on your own.”

In contrast, great sales coaches make it a point to coach somebody before noon every day. They schedule coaching like an appointment in their calendar. They look for opportunities to coach and teach every day.

Building New Habits

At the peak of famed motivation researcher Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” is “self actualization” — the desire to become everything that one is capable of becoming. So, proactive sales coaching motivates your salespeople to grow and improve. To build a more motivated sales team, implement these four coaching habits. Pick one and stick with it until it becomes natural behavior, then move on to the next one. And by the next New Year’s Day, you can look back on your best year ever!

3 Critical Skills New Hires Lack

The best sales managers know how to hire enthusiastic people who have the right attitude and want to take advantage of a great opportunity. But even the best new hires usually lack many key skills. Where does a sales manager start? Here are three critical skills you should coach your new hires on.

Qualification Skills

Do you remember when you were new on the job? Did you know how to recognize prospects that could turn into good clients and those that would just waste your time? Neither did I!73232545-head missing 3 pcs-LR

Too much valuable time is wasted on low potential accounts. New hires need to learn how to weed out under-qualified leads faster.

Your role? Especially with new hires, you as the sales manager want to get involved early in the sales opportunity. Talk to rep about a prospect and ask specific questions such as “Is this an organization that is a good fit for us and our products/services?” Then ask them to explain their answer. What are they seeing or not seeing that makes them think the company is a good or poor fit? If it is a good fit, ask the rep, “Where is this customer in their buying process?” and “What factors did you use to determine this?”

Developing Strategy/ Process

When new hires lack a defined sales process, they have no strategy for success. If ramping your new hires to success faster is a goal, your company may very well need an eSales Playbook that captures best practices used by your senior reps. The playbook should document both the general sales process your want reps to use plus examples of what successful reps do in a variety specific situations, such as selling different types of products/services to specific types of decision makers. Once you have the documentation, make it available to your new hires online.

Having the playbook isn’t enough, however. To become proficient and confident in selling situations, new hires must practice the steps of the sales process, determining where a customer is in their buying process, and work on problem-solving skills and questioning techniques— while also appearing confident on knowledge about your company’s solutions. Surely you would rather they gain this practice through role-plays with you than when dealing with customer! If you have your company’s sales process “baked” into the playbook, you have a ready source for developing  role playing scenarios that you can run with new hires. A little “flexibility training” is essential in role playing also. Offer scenarios that are unexpected, questions out of left field etc.

Understanding Company Expectations

Success in sales is not just what one does, but how. Being a successful salesperson takes a mix of consultative selling skills and attitudes, performing to high expectations, and meeting the needs of an employer not just customers. Many salespeople, and especially new hires, lack a vision of what their company expects. As a sales coach, take time to develop a Success Profile that defines all these elements then share that list with your team. You can use this Success Profile as a coaching tool. Use it to launch discussions with each rep about their professional development and attitude improvement goals. The profile might also suggest to new hires what criteria a company may use to look for in people they consider for promotion.

Qualification, process, and expectations. If you can help your new hires master these three areas, they will have a solid foundation for a great sales career.

7 Tips for Confronting Problem Performers on Your Sales Team

Man versus woman.

One of the most difficult situations sales managers face is how to confront problem performers in a way that gets them to change their ways, and become more successful. I define a problem performer as anyone who has not responded to your coaching conversations. In other words, you noticed poor performance or unsatisfactory behavior, brought the issue to the attention of the person, and gave them specific and actionable advice on how to correct the situation. Then, they made no change. Here’s what you do now….

1. Be timely.

The moment you notice a salesperson has failed to address a problem that you’ve previously talked with them about, setup a time to talk with them again. Don’t delay this conversation! Why? Because the sooner you address the problem the less negative emotion will be involved in fixing it.

If you let the issue go, and fail to deal with it in a timely manner, then your problem performer may assume their poor performance is acceptable to you. That only creates more negativity when you do finally get around to facing the issue. By addressing it in a timely manner, you stop the behavior before it becomes a bad habit. And, you are sending a clear message that you are unwilling to tolerate their continued problem performance.

2. Be Prepared

Whatever the problem is that you are encountering with the rep, think through what YOU want to say for each part of the discussion. You’ve talked about this issue with the salesperson before, so you should be able to anticipate their responses to some extent.

Before you have this conversation you must know the answer to this question: “What will be the consequences to this salesperson if they, again, make no change after this next conversation?”

3. Focus on Behavior

Don’t criticize the person because it can polarize the situation and cause more friction. Many salespeople are hypersensitive to personal criticism.

Instead, frame the conversation around their behavior(s) – what you would like and/or need to see them do differently in the future. Be sure to discuss how their performance problem is not consistent with your company standards and how it is negatively impacting their personal income.

Talk about the behavior you need to see going forward and lay out clear steps on how that behavior and/or result can be achieved.

4. Stay Focused

Salespeople have the “gift of gab,” and many will use their verbal skills to sidestep uncomfortable situations. Your mindset here should be “Actions speak louder than words.” Make sure you don’t allow the conversation to be diverted.

Stick to your talking points.

If the person attempts to divert the conversation, bring them back to the unacceptable behavior and/or poor result.

5. Set Clear Benchmarks

It’s important to set some achievable benchmarks for the rep to measure themselves on. Have a fair way to measure their progress and give them a way to measure themselves against this benchmark to tell whether they have made the change you are requesting. Benchmarks are also important for you, because after this conversation you’ll want to have a way to inspect what you expect.

6. Don’t Dwell on the Past

The rep cannot change the past, they can only change the future. So don’t rehash grounds you’ve gone over multiple times already with the rep.

Keep the discussion focused on what needs to change going forward. When bringing up an issue remember to frame it in the correct way. Instead of saying “Why aren’t you doing XYZ?” (accusing the rep),  frame it in a nicer way like “I noticed you haven’t made the changes we discussed last week. Is there something more I can help you with there?”

7. Put the shoe on their foot

This technique works best when your problem performer is one of your senior-tenured reps who now has become a performance problem for you. Consider saying to them, “Put yourself in my shoes. Suppose you had a rep who was doing what you’re doing. As the manager, what would YOU do to resolve the situation?”

This is a very powerful technique of gaining agreement with your problem-performer that this is an issue that cannot and will not be ignored by management. Once they self-identify with the issue, it’s up to them to fix it and for you to assist in any way possible.

Besides following these tips, be sure to follow up with the rep the day after you have the conversation. Ask if they have any questions about what you discussed, and if they have feedback for you.

Remember, you can’t control the outcome of this conversation. It’s the rep’s choice to change. But you will have succeeded if the rep clearly understands the choices in front of them. The benefits of change, and the consequence that will occur if they make no change.

Then, if they do change, be sure to praise their progress. If they don’t change, well, it just may be time for you to talk to your HR department and begin initiating the steps towards “de-hiring” this problem performer.

If and when it to comes to terminating a problem performer, just do it. You don’t want your successful team members thinking….. “What took you so long?” Because successful people are demotivated when they have to work with people who are not contributing to the team’s mission.

Where Should You Spend Your Sales Coaching Time?

As a sales manager, if you are managing your time well, and balancing priorities enough to be coaching your reps –congratulations!! A big dilemma faced by most sales managers, though, is how to coach and more importantly whom do you commit the bulk of your sales coaching time to? Who you coach is every bit as important as how you coach.Blog for skill-will hands

Like most sales managers, you likely have some “A” players, your top performers. You also some have “C” players — the people who are always at the bottom in terms of results and attitudes. And most of your reps are “B” players — the people in the middle.

Where do you currently spend most of your one-on-one coaching time? Lots of sales managers tell me that they spend their coaching time on the “A” players, helping to win the biggest deals, or on the “C” players because those people need the most help. Both of those approaches, however, are not where you are going to get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s right… your biggest payoff from coaching will come from placing extra emphasis on your “B” players.

In our Sales Coaching & Leadership Workshop, sales managers rate their salespeople using a tool we call the “Success Profile,” and the outcome for managers is a better understanding of who they should apply extra coaching time to. The “Success Profile” groups salespeople according to their skill and will. Skill being a salesperson’s aptitude or proficiency at applying your company’s sales process. And Will is more of an individual’s interest in improving… and most importantly, their willingness to be coached.

Once you have these ratings, look for the high payoff coaching candidates —  the people who have a lot of will to improve, who will listen to your advice and then act on it. That’s where you want to spend a majority of your one-on-one coaching time. You should include any new hires in this category, too, since they deserve enough of your time so they can learn the ropes before becoming self sufficient.

As for the others, you need to find ways to keep your “A” players engaged. If they are enthusiastic, ask them to become a mentor for a newer rep. If their motivation is low, find out what is demotivating them and see if new opportunities or challenges can get them more excited about the job. Sit down with them and help them rediscover their personal goals.

The trickiest group to deal with are your “C” players. Your HR department won’t like it if you ignore these people, and they are owed your attention simply by being part of your team. But you can’t ignore the fact that even great coaching is unlikely to have a major positive impact on the results that people in this group achieve. So look for ways to leverage your time and impact with the “C” players. For example, work with them as a group, in meetings or webinars.

Leadership is, in part, the ability to make the right choice about how to apply yourself on the job. When you move a B player up to an A player you create competition at the top of your sales team. And the sales results will certainly follow.

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