May 13

Is Your Coaching Changing Sales Behaviors?


Sales managers debrief sales calls in order to better coach their sales team about specific areas that were missed and/or could be improved. 

There is one simple coaching question often missed during the debriefing process, especially with deals that are getting stuck or stalled:

How did we get here? 

Let’s look at a hypothetical coaching scenario. You’re conducting a one-on-one coaching session and the salesperson shares frustration about a stuck deal. This sharing triggers sales managers into empathy-and-problem-solving mode. They immediately share their ideas and strategies for solving the problem.

But that creates another problem. If you are constantly telling and solving the problem, you aren’t helping your sales team develop two important selling skills: Critical thinking and self-awareness. 

Critical thinking skills are the ability to understand the logical connection between ideas. In sales, it’s important that a salesperson learn how to make the connection between their actions -- or inactions -- and the effect on their sales outcomes. 

Self-awareness is the ability to know and understand what emotional triggers derail salespeople during sales meetings and harm sales outcomes.   

The question “How did we get here?” helps develop both skills on your sales team. This question creates behavior change and awareness around important topics such as:

1. Slowing down to speed up. Critical thinking and deep thinking aren’t accomplished by rushing to get an answer. It takes reflection and introspection. The “How did we get here?” question helps your sales team reflect and walk through their sales process. It helps them improve their ability to figure out the sales challenge, and understanding when, why and where the sale got derailed.

For example, your highly optimistic salesperson might have let their optimism override their reality-testing skills. When the prospect shared a problem with the current vendor, they allowed positive emotions to take over the sales call. Instead of asking all the qualifying questions, they jumped to solutions too soon.

With reflection, the salesperson realizes they didn’t ask enough questions to determine the cost of the prospect’s problem. That’s why they ended up defending their price rather than demonstrating the value your company can provide.

2. The presenting problem isn’t the real problem. For example, a deal appears to be stalled at the investment/negotiation stage. But with closer examination and conversation with you, the salesperson discovers that the pricing isn’t the issue. The salesperson shouldn’t have put this opportunity in the sales pipeline because:   

This prospect doesn’t fit his ideal client profile. He was trying to sell to a prospect that buys only on price, not value.

3. Blind spots. Reflection and examination improve self-awareness. Your salesperson may discover she doesn’t possess the knowledge or skills to prevent this same sales challenge from happening again. She needs more training and coaching.

No problem.

This awareness provides a great opportunity for sales managers to review, teach and coach selling skills that will prevent this same mistake on future sales calls.  

For more great coaching questions, check out my latest book, “Emotional Intelligence For Sales Leadership.”

How did we get here?

A powerful coaching question that can improve a salesperson’s critical thinking skills, self-awareness AND sales results.  

Good Selling!


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