People knowledgeable about sales excellence know that coaching is worthwhile—it can make a difference; it needs to be a priority. Most sales leaders agree about the importance of sales coaching, yet would also admit “the job isn’t getting done.” A lot of great companies start coaching initiatives with tremendous energy and commitment. Far fewer exit the other end of the tunnel.
Three propositions increase the urgency for a renewed dialogue about coaching.
Superimpose these developments on one of the most transformational and disruptive periods in recent history, and you create a picture that explains why market-leading companies are taking a second look at getting coaching done and getting it right.
At Level Five, we have had the privilege of working with great sales leaders. Here are some of the best practices these great sales leaders are doing on a good day for getting coaching right.
Unfortunately, most people struggle to construct an accurate self-assessment of their abilities. In fact, most people seek out evidence that confirms their positive opinions and ignores evidence to the contrary.
It’s challenging to travel the performance improvement road unless everyone agrees on where the journey is beginning. Recognizing the myth and achieving a better beginning diagnosis is one of the best opportunities for improving the coaching process. Some specific ideas:
A traditional sales coaching model sounds like this, “I’m the leader–I’ll suggest what you should do to improve your performance. Your job is to practice–my job is to give feedback.” This model is about teaching people how to fix a performance problem.
An alternative model says, “You’re the one responsible for the learning. As your leader, I’m responsible for helping you become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, expand your alternatives for improving, and increase your understanding of how you’re doing.”
This latter model helps explain why top coaches ask more than tell–and listen more than talk.
Account strategy formulation and call execution skills are critical for any world-class sales team. Hence, they both should be a top priority for coaching.
But in many companies, account strategy coaching is underemphasized. If you select the correct accounts and establish a rigorous coaching protocol, performance improvement per unit of time spent on sales strategy can significantly impact sales productivity.
The importance of having a superior sales team is increasing, but you can’t just “buy” one. Having a great group of front-line leaders who are masterful at coaching and get coaching done are necessary parts of the answer. Only five years ago, you might have been okay at putting this “getting good at coaching goal” on the back burner for other priorities. However, in today’s market, that decision is more difficult to justify.
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