The role of the sales manager has traditionally been one of hire and fire, carrot and stick, depending on what sort of incentive they thought the salesperson needed to motivate them in the required direction. This didn’t always have the desired effect and has transformed over the last few years into a much softer and more successful carrot and blinkers approach to help focus and guide the salesperson, using coaching.
The basic philosophy of coaching is that you cannot tell the person what to do; ideally they should work this out for themselves from the questions and information that the coach uses to guide them. From this they should be able to generate their own creative solutions. Coaching sales people has additional problems, as they tend to be highly motivated self-starters who know that for each day of success, there are likely to be 100 days or more of calls, meetings, presentations, demonstrations and endless travel.
This makes it more difficult to know when to intervene with those one or two useful hints or tips to point them in the right direction. Unfortunately, the coach isn’t always available when they are most needed and in these situations it would be great if the salesperson could have a way to help them think through the possibilities. Regular debrief and coaching meetings are the best answer, probably weekly, but this isn’t always possible or practical, especially in larger organizations. For those inevitably times when things aren’t working out for the salesperson and they could do with just a little inspiration, something more personal is required.
A mobile phone can connect you to numerous resources, but isn’t great in a meeting or when the resource isn’t available. A notepad or book could be used, but the salesperson doesn’t want to spend hours searching, they want something they can access quickly on the go – a coach on the go – so they can self-coach. This doesn’t remove the need for the sales manager, but can provide more detailed feedback to help with face-to-face coaching sessions.
At SalesStar we’ve been looking at ways to square this circle for quite a while and now think that technology and software development have reached the point where a solution is achievable. The ideal is something that can show salespeople areas they haven’t worked on sufficiently and indicate the detail they need to uncover, maybe even give them hints as to the sort of questions they need to ask. This also needs to give them immediate feedback on how much they’ve already discovered.
You need to be able to interrogate this information almost instantly and have visual feedback on where you are now, what areas need attention, what are the chances of winning this deal, should you be moving on to a better opportunity? You need to be able to update information quickly and with minimal keyboard input. It would be useful if you could access it quickly in meetings. The salesperson and organization also need to be able to customize the software to reflect their specific needs and solutions.
None of this is something that traditional menu driven software, dashboards, or other standard interfaces have been able to achieve. However, using our 3-D ‘Touch and See’ interface on a tablet such as the iPad we believe the ‘coach on the go’ is almost here.