Improve your sales manager coaching skills in six actionable steps
As a sales manager, you aren’t just responsible for direct interactions with customers. Studies have shown that your coaching skills have a direct impact on the overall performance of your team, transforming their sales successes. Becoming an effective sales coach can help your entire team do a better job of reaching your target audience, increasing conversions, and improving customer interactions. These strategies will make you a more effective sales coach.
Step One: Observe Your Team
A critical part of any coaching experience is observing the key players–in this case, the members of your sales team. In order to provide effective advice to the members of your team, you need to see how they’re interacting with customers. Get to know their personalities and their skills. See what they’re doing right and where they need a little extra work. In some cases, you may discover that the members of your sales team have more capability than you realized, including techniques that you may want to pass on to other members of the team. In others, you may find that they’re lacking some basic sales skills that you’re able to provide as a result of your observations.
Note that during your observations–which should be frequent and spread across your sales team so that you can get a good idea of how each member of the team interacts with your customers–you should avoid taking over calls or interactions. You should leave the customer interactions in the hands of sales team members so that they can develop their skills, rather than getting in the habit of sitting in the back seat or handing things over to you.
Step Two: Schedule Coaching Sessions
In order to become a more effective sales coach, you have to have time to work with the members of your team! Make sure that you’re scheduling time into your workday to work with members of the sales team and provide them with the new information they need in order to be successful. In order to provide more effective feedback, make sure that you’re taking into consideration their accomplishments as well as their shortcomings. Congratulate sales team members who are able to meet their goals with enthusiasm and reward progress. The more regularly you work with members of your team, the easier it is to offer feedback that will allow them to make small corrections, ultimately improving their overall performance.
Step Three: Develop Practice Strategies
For some people, the art of sales comes naturally. They’re able to effortlessly make connections with customers, provide them with the information they need, and coax them to make the right purchase decisions. In other cases, however, you may find that the members of your sales team need more practice in order to meet their sales goals. Just like you would in any sport, give your team members the opportunity to practice outside the “game”–that is, when they’re away from the customers who need to make critical buying decisions. This may include offering video-based training, providing sales team members with content to read, or working through scenarios with them in an effort to improve their understanding of customer needs.
Step Four: Develop One-on-One Meeting Habits
Sure, it’s easier to address your entire sales team at once. “Everyone” needs help with a certain aspect of sales, whether it’s upselling or closing the deal. Unfortunately, this strategy can leave your sales team struggling to gain the vital skills they need in order to improve their sales results. When you develop a habit of 1:1 meetings and interactions, you can substantially improve the performance of your sales team and give them the individual attention they need to make real progress. With a single meeting, you can improve an individual’s performance for up to two weeks, making this a valuable investment of your time.
Whenever possible, you should have a clear plan in place before stepping into a meeting with the members of your sales team. They should have a good idea of what to expect from your meetings, and you should both be able to follow the basic structure of the meeting. You should also avoid canceling meetings if at all possible as this can leave your sales team feeling undervalued and as though their performance isn’t important.
Step Five: Keep It Simple
When you’re in the middle of a meeting, it can be easy to shove too much into a single interaction. You want to share as much information as possible with your sales team, after all, whether that means giving them an arsenal of new tools or providing them with information about new sales goals or incoming products. It’s important, however, to keep your individual meetings short and sweet. Avoid giving team members too much information to sort through, which can lead to confusion or a focus on the wrong pieces of information. Your meetings, instead, should retain focus.
Step Six: Discover What Motivates Your Sales Team
When you work with athletes, it’s important to know how to positively motivate them–and that’s just as true for working with your sales team. You need to know how to motivate your employees: what incentives they want, the type of advice they need, and what feedback model works best for encouraging them to perform their best. Each member of your sales team is an individual and may have individual preferences in this area, so you’ll need to learn how to customize your dealings with your employees to the way that motivates them most. As you discover what motivates them, however, you’ll find that it smooths your interactions with your employees and makes it easier to meet your goals.
If you’re struggling to motivate your sales team, becoming a more effective sales coach is the best way to meet your goals on the sales floor. As a sales coach, you aren’t responsible for the sales themselves. Rather, you’re responsible for providing the tools and motivations needed by the people who interact with your company’s customers every day. By utilizing these steps, you’ll discover that you’re in a better position to encourage your sales team and provide them with vital feedback.