Truly effective sales coaching is not easy, but a good mix of focus, communication, relationship building and accountability will go a really long way
Managing sales comes with the challenge of when to be the coach and when to be the boss— when to check in to make sure they’re on track versus letting them flourish in independence.
Successful managers find a way to strike the balance between both. But achieving that requires a concerted effort to master several key areas in the sales manager and sales representative relationship.
Here’s a few areas you can target to get the most out of your sales representatives.
Establish clear expectations
Like any job it helps to have a focused set of goals or expectations before starting a job. For coaching and sales managing, this might also mean working with the representative to define goals that meet their specific strengths and weaknesses. It’s also important to know what motivates that particular seller and use that as a guiding force to help them develop good habits and reach their full potential.
Allow your representatives to own the solution
Once you’ve agreed on the “what,” allowing your sales representatives to create paths toward that goal will give them ownership over the task. To assist in that journey, its important to ask effective questions that aren’t just “how did your first client meeting go?” But dig deeper into specifics, how the sales representative plans on solving certain problems and more. These kinds of questions not only keep representatives on task but will stimulate problem solving abilities and make everyday teachable moments.
Build trusting relationships
Along with letting your representatives own the solution, it’s important to communicate with representatives rather than at them. If your relationship exists solely to dole out tasks and see that they’re completed than there is no personal investment. However, if you query your employees about their tasks and use that as a why to touch on greater themes about sales and their personal growth, you are more than a boss and hopefully have laid the seeds for a coaching relationship. It’s also just as important to make yourself available to questions.
Know when to step back
As your representatives build trust in you, the relationship has to go the other way. Because your not out on every call or in client meeting, allow them to self evaluate. This not only to build self-awareness as recognizing strengths and weakness will inform similar future outings, but also self confidence.
OK, so you’ve given the representative space to define their trajectory, problem solve independently and self evaluate their progress, how do you keep them on track without intruding too much? The answer is crafting a focused coaching plan. As your sales representative works independently on a lot of the nuts and bolts, develop growth plans for them as you receive feedback and observe progress. This means focusing in on key areas to coach them through.
Hold representatives accountable
Finally, it’s important to hold your sales representatives accountable to the plans and goals they’ve set for themselves. Make this a weekly routine to ask how the sales representative is making progress, what challenges have they faced and how they overcame those challenges. Asking these questions not only allows you to refocus the conversation on the big picture and receive progress updates, but it also shows the sales representative you take the plan seriously.
At the end of the day, finding the right balance between independence and direct supervision will be a challenge employee to employee. But it’s important to start from a good foundation, to make sure the parameters of the relationships are built around trust and an interest in representative growth.