I grew up in a large family with seven siblings. This means that my parents were running a small office that never closed and they couldn’t fire the “employees.” Little did I know that my parents were great sales coaches. On a daily basis, they applied a coaching technique that I teach today: the consistent coaching question.
The questions varied, depending on your age. The first consistent coaching question was, “Did you brush your teeth?” The next question was, “Did you do your chores?” And once you started grade school, it changed to, “Did you do your homework?” These questions were predictable and my busy parents expected only one answer: Yes.
The consistent coaching question is one of the most effective approaches to change selling behaviors and sales results. When a sales manager asks the consistent question of her team members, she helps them develop two skills:
- Focus: What you focus on is measured and improves.
- Habit: What you do repeatedly becomes a habit. Once something becomes a habit, you no longer think about doing it. You just do it.
A lot of sales managers get frustrated because a team member isn’t achieving quota. To improve sales results, they tend to over teach. They review, teach and test the entire sales process and then repeat the process, looking like a bobblehead doll.
When a sales manager debriefs a salesperson’s sales meeting, he may find several areas that need improvement. Avoid the bobblehead approach and instead, focus on asking one or two questions that will make the biggest difference in sales behavior. The adult learning model shows that chunking learning -- teaching small pieces of information -- is more effective than trying to teach 10 different selling concepts.
Once you’ve identified the biggest levers for improvement, start asking the consistent questions around those one or two areas until you see and hear new habits of thought and behaviors. For example, salespeople often miss a basic question that uncovers the true need, the real need, the need for which a prospect will invest money resources.
That simple question is, “What’s making you take a closer look at this issue NOW?
Ask these three consistent coaching questions to insure your salesperson asks this simple and powerful question.
- “What did the prospect say when you asked him about why they are taking a closer look at this issue now, after two years of living with the problem?”
- “When you asked the prospect why they were taking a closer look, what did she say?”
- “What was the prospect’s answer as to why he was taking a closer look at this issue now?”
Be a consistent sales coach and you will start seeing the magic of the consistent coaching question. The salesperson knows you will ask her this question at every sales meeting debriefing. As a result, she makes sure she asks the question during the sales conversation. It’s the power of focus.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being great coaches. My teeth are healthy, I still do my chores and I am a star pupil at getting my corporate homework done.