Sales managers are often frustrated because their sales team’s performance continues to fall short of expectations. The reason for such frustration is that dedicated sales managers invest time teaching and coaching salespeople only to keep running into the SAME sales team performance issues.
Maybe you can relate to some of these sales challenges.
Inconsistent or ineffective prospecting.
Salespeople talking too much and listening too little.
Sales team offering discounts when your company offers a much better value.
It’s easy for dedicated sales leaders to feel like they are running on a treadmill to nowhere. Time to stop running and time to ask this question to improve your sales team’s performance:
Are you coaching sales deals or coaching salespeople? There is a BIG difference.
Deal coaching or what I call deal review, is when you and your salesperson sit down and analyze the salesperson’s numbers. Are prospecting metrics being achieved? What’s the conversion rate of prospecting outreaches to a first conversation? What is the volume of opportunities in each selling stage? What is the average deal size and close ratio?
Knowing a salesperson’s numbers are important.
HOWEVER, knowing the sales numbers DOES NOT CHANGE the numbers.
Coaching your sales team is the only thing that changes the numbers. The reality is that most sales managers haven’t learned how to coach 100 percent of the skills needed to be effective in sales, the soft skills and the hard skills of professional sales.
Case in point. You’ve taught your sales team how to ask effective, smart and provocative questions during a sales call. However, they are not demonstrating those skills during a sales call. They end up writing practice proposals because they jump to solutions and never uncover the real reason for a prospect to make a decision or their commitment to change.
The fix. Slow down and identify if this salesperson needs soft skills coaching, hard skills coaching or a combination of both. Take a holistic coaching approach.
Let’s look at two examples of soft skills and hard skills coaching.
For example, what is the REAL reason salespeople don’t ask enough questions during a sales call?
It could be: Lack of Emotional Intelligence (Soft) Skills.
The salesperson lacks delayed gratification skills. This is the ability to put in the work to become masterful. Focus your coaching efforts on improving your sales team’s self-awareness. When are they caving to the pull of instant gratification? Why are they caving to instant gratification selling behaviors rather than proven delayed gratification selling behaviors? Have an honest discussion on how much work it takes to achieve mastery. Is the salesperson willing to do the work to achieve their goals?
Self-limiting beliefs. What you think drives your actions. In my 30 some years of coaching, I’ve heard more than one salesperson state a self-limiting belief: prospects don’t like being asked questions. That self-limiting belief drives their actions which is why present solutions without proper diagnosis.
Take time to dive into this self-limiting belief by asking the question, “Is this belief based on perception or data?” You might discover that a salesperson experienced a one-time selling event where the prospect did get annoyed with questions. Based on that one-time event, the salesperson now “believes” ALL prospects don’t like questions. Change the belief and you will change selling behaviors.
Now, let’s take a closer look at hard skills, consultative selling skills coaching.
Your sales team isn’t landing enough appointments or showing up with relevant insights during a sales meeting. It could be:
Outdated sales messaging. Times are a changing and so must a salesperson’s messaging. A value proposition from even a month ago may not resonate with a buyer. At the writing of this blog, we just experienced two bank failures in the United States. Wow. For some salespeople, these bank failures and the associated anxiety will require changing up their sales message. Your salesperson may be hitting all their activity metrics; however, their sales message isn’t hitting with their prospects.
Ineffective pre-call planning. This is a BIG miss. You’ve taught your team how to conduct effective research prior a sales meeting. The salesperson conducts the research. HOWEVER, they fail to apply the research to an upcoming sales conversation.
They don’t design thought provoking questions based on their research.
They don’t plan for potential objections and responses based on their research.
When coaching a salesperson ask, “How will you apply this research during the upcoming sales meeting?” Knowledge is great but it’s also useless unless it’s applied.
Are you coaching sales deals or salespeople? Deal review looks at the numbers. Deal coaching improves your sales team's performance.