The Coach Approach

By Cindy Waxer

As a sales manager you want to coach your sales team to success – but often there isn’t enough time to spend with everyone on your team. John Doerr, president of the consulting group, Wellesley Hills Group, offers seven tips to help make sure your coaching techniques result in higher sales and stronger, more productive sales reps.

Be clear about your intentions.
Make clear through your words and actions that you really do want to help your sales reps succeed. Coaching only works in a safe, trusting environment.

Make a mutual commitment.
Coach those who want to learn, develop and change. There is nothing more frustrating and more futile than trying to coach someone who thinks they don’t need it or won’t make changes.

Share in their development.
Develop a learning plan with your sales reps. Map out, together, the areas in which they can improve the most by perfecting their techniques, learning new skills or acquiring additional knowledge. When sales reps participate in their learning assessment and plan they are much more open to being coached.

Stay focused.
Pick one or two – at the most three – specific areas to work on. Don’t overload your sales reps with a laundry list of improvements they need to make. Trying to improve too many things at once divides their attention and often results in no improvements at all.

Plan your timing and delivery.
Find the right coaching moments, and then coach with questions as much as statements. For example, just before your sales reps make a call, go over one or two key learning points that you want them to remember. After your reps return from their sales calls ask them how they thought their calls went. At the beginning of the quarter, when there is still time to make an impact in actual results, reinforce what you would like them to work on by asking questions and gaining commitment.

Encourage regularly.
Catch your sales reps when they are doing something right. Sometimes the best coaching is when you reinforce something done well – not perfectly, but well. The confidence you engender will help your reps work harder to get even better.

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