Sales managers often invest time teaching their sales team new selling skills and behaviors. And many wonder and ask the question, “Why isn’t my sales team getting this?” The reason is most sales managers have never been taught how to be a good coach. As a result, they work on the wrong end of a sales performance challenge. Click here for our upcoming sales management workshops.
It’s important to know the difference between training and coaching. Training is imparting knowledge. Coaching is making sure new skills ‘landed’ and can be executed effectively and consistently. Coaching is where sales skills and results dramatically improve. Here are three tips to make you a better sales coach.
#1: Repetition, repetition, repetition. Sales managers often grasp selling concepts and skills quickly. As a result, they take that same expectation to their sales team. They teach a sales concept once, conduct a couple of role plays and then expect the salesperson to demonstrate sales mastery. What’s wrong with this picture?
Mastery of a skill is achievable only through repetition. It’s neuroscience 101. Neuroplasticity is the brains ability to adapt and build new neural pathways. As behavioral psychologist Donald Hebb discovered, cells that fire together form new habits of thinking and skills. We like to tell our clients to aim for 144 repetitions. By that time those cells are wired for consistent sales execution!
#2: Ask, don’t tell. Most sales managers are assertive so their natural response to a salesperson’s question is to give a response. The next time a salesperson comes to you with question, check your impulse control and ask three simple questions:
- What do you think?
- What have you tried?
- What are other options to consider?
Your value as a sales manager is measured by your ability to teach and transfer knowledge. It’s not how much you know and do. It’s what your sales team knows and executes. Click here for our upcoming sales management workshops.
#3: Impulse control. All of the above requires the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification. Coaching takes time and patience. The effective coach must put in the work of planning effective one-on-one coaching sessions and sales meetings.
For example, do you have a defined purpose or objective when meeting one-on-one with your salesperson? Or are you defaulting to the ‘wing-it’ system of coaching? Are your sales meetings operations meetings or skill development meetings?
As the great Vince Lombardi said, “They call it coaching, but it is teaching. You do not just tell them it is so, but you show them the reasons why it is so and you repeat and repeat until they are convinced….until they know.”