Here is a statistic that you will struggle to believe, but should! Sales managers must spend 50% of their time coaching their sales reps. Yes, 50%!
“But how the heck are we going to do that?!?!!”
Short answer: Listen! We hear a lot of bellyaching from sales managers about this when the truth is that opportunities to coach are abundant when they listen closely to every conversation.
Coaching may take many forms from formal coaching reviews to hallway conversations. Keep your eyes peeled and ears open and you’ll find plenty.
Here are 2 techniques that sales managers can use to improve performance and make coaching more consistent. These work with most employees, business relationships, and even with some teenagers.
The first approach is reframing the issue the salesperson is having by asking questions that change the perspective of the salesperson. This requires the sales manager to listen to the salesperson intently and gain a clear understanding of the circumstances.
Here is the situation. The salesperson has just said they cannot make 100 calls a week to prospects.
To reframe the issue, the sales manager asks a question to reframe and create a bridge to a coaching conversation.
Bob, I understand 100 calls can be a struggle. Pause. What if you could make the calls? What might happen?
After the questions are asked, the sales manager must sit quietly.
If the salesperson is open to growth and coaching, they will ponder the potential outcomes.
Look Here! When the rep enters a coaching conversation, this is when the sales manager can coach on techniques and other ideas for improvement. Remember, the rep has agreed to do this. If they are open to growth and coaching, they will be willing to talk about what might happen and get guidance.
When someone is consistently closed off to coaching, they are likely not a fit for the job.
The second technique I teach works with salespeople and children. It’s very effective when the sales rep shows up in the doorway and says, “Do you have a minute?”. They usually have a question they want answered.
Here’s the kicker – I ask the sales manager not to answer the original question until they have asked at least 5 to 7 other questions! Make the rep think about the problem rather than just give them the answer.
Here is the psychology behind this technique: the individual will walk away believing they solved the problem on their own. They will feel good about the sales manager and they are more likely to remember the solution for the next time.
Here are some basic questions for this scenario. Each must be offered with a nurturing tone and with the intent to be truly helpful.
- Interesting, have you ever encountered this before?
- What did you try in the past?
- Did that work?
- Why didn’t it work?
- What would you do differently?
- What does your gut tell you?
- How do you think you should proceed?
If the sales manager stays in the moment and asks a good first question, the path will open up to them. Resist the temptation to just give the answer.
Coaching will take your team to the next level. Which one will your try today?