The great majority of sales coaching carried out in sales organizations is done at the deal level and is aimed at improving the salesperson’s performance over time and achieving and beating their targets. While this deal coaching has been shown to be very effective, it is normally focused at getting and closing the deal and may neglect a very important part of the overall project; what happens once the sale is closed?
As somebody that was involved with the sale of early CRM-type systems in the 90’s, I know first hand about the issues of implementation and roll-out that fundamentally affected the revenue potential from many of these CRM and similar large projects.
As a current case-in-point, how many large projects instituted by central government actually end up working first time, if at all. The fundamental problem often isn’t down to errors or flaws in the software, but to a failure to ‘coach’ the prospect through the full resource requirements for implementation and then project manage them during implementation and roll-out.
This starts fairly early in the sale’s lifecycle with a detailed appraisal of the prospect’s capability to successfully implement the solution you’re proposing. This shouldn’t be difficult for the salesperson, as they and their internal management and support should have a wealth of experience with these issues, whereas the prospect probably doesn’t. Should the prospect turn into a client, a poor, or worse, a disastrous implementation can have serious repercussions.
A poor implementation may mean they restrict the roll-out or may even not continue with the project. In the early days of CRM systems, many vendors overlooked these important areas, with the result that a sale for 500 users, with follow-on sales for a further 1500, actually turned into a pilot 50 user system that never went any further. The loss of initial revenue, along with the loss of follow-on sales and yearly maintenance and support contracts, meant the loss of huge amounts of ‘booked’ and projected revenue.
A disastrous implementation could leave the vendor facing months of costly wrangling over liability, loss of reputation, loss of future sales and possibly even litigation.
The salesperson should be looking past the initial sale to all the possible follow-on revenues and making it his duty to engage with all the relevant people to ensure the prospect has the capability, either internally or contracted, to fully implement the project. This will include training, support, customer services, IT, finance etc: depending on the solution being proposed.
The sales manager, in his position as coach, should ensure that the salesperson not only asks the right questions to improve their deal performance, but also asks the right questions to improve their post sales performance.
This is an area where software-coaching tools can be an even more invaluable asset; pointing the salesperson to all the other areas they need to keep in mind when planning their deal strategy. This helps ensure that even if the sales manager can’t be there all the time their coaching can be.