Coaching opportunities are not always planned. There is a knock at the door, “Do you have a minute?”. These days this may present as a Slack or Teams call. Here’s your opportunity to help, lead, and coach.
In the 1970s, there were a series of commercials about the Shell Answer Man. Consumers were taught to go to their local Shell Station because they were the source of the answers they needed for auto care.
The Shell Answer Man always gave the answers. We do not always want to give the answer for the same reason Shell wanted you to go to their station as Sales Managers, Sales Leaders, and even Parents. All of us should coach our people to uncover the answers for themselves because we want to see how they can solve problems, or at minimum, get farther down the line with finding an answer.
Sales Managers: Coach 50% of Your Time!
The BEST coaching moments present themselves when the leader is in the midst of something else. These instances are wonderful opportunities to build lasting relationships and they require us to recognize the moment and the opportunity.
Yes –it is an opportunity. Engage whenever possible. Stop what you are doing and focus on them. If you cannot, be clear about why and what you will do next to get back to them. Convey it is important to you, and absolutely fulfill your commitment in the timeline promised.
Be present and listen to their issues. Your tone, body language, and words all must be congruent. If you lack empathy or do not fully engage, you are hurting the relationship.
Is this difficult to do? Of course, it is. Especially, when there is a random knock on the door. Parents and Sales Managers – it is critical to be supportive and build the relationship each time you can.
These 5 questions will help you be better at coaching your sales team.
Let’s take a look at each one in context.
- What do you think? This gets them engaged into the conversation, it tells you if they have put some thought into this problem or opportunity.
- What have you tried in the past? This might help them see the challenge is similar to another “thing” they solved in the past. Maybe they can discover the answer on their own.
- How is this situation the same/different? Sometimes the salesperson needs more help connecting the dots.
- Why do you think that did not work? This and the positive corollary will add more context to their situation. This question helps them view the situation from a 3rd party perspective. This gets them out of their own head and focuses on the solution.
- What could you do differently? This is a killer question to help the individual figure out a different approach. Now, you have an opportunity to use your experience to continue to ask questions to help guide them.
The goal here is not to immediately hand them the answer. Help them figure it out and they will own the answer. Yes, these questions will usually help the salesperson uncover for themselves the right answer. As the sales manager, it takes patience. You will need to slow down and engage in the conversation.
Sales managers must resist the temptation to give the answer because that does not help the individual connect the dots next time. It might take 7 questions. Be the coach. Be the Sales Leader!