Sales coaching asks questions of the salesperson to help them to improve their understanding of the opportunity they’re involved in and ask themselves and the buyer the questions that will move the sale forward in the most positive way … or decide they shouldn’t be bidding at all.
Many of these questions may appear straightforward at first, but actually require more than a short, standard response. This would show relatively little in-depth understanding of the actual issues that the prospective customer is going through in their buying process.
To get to the heart of the matter the sales coach will often ask about the same issue, but using differently phrased questions to probe what the salesperson really knows and understands about the issues involved from the prospective customer’s point of view. This is of vital importance in the early stages, as it can lead to the overuse of time and effort on the salesperson’s part and possibly allocation of company resources on a sale that will never be won. Much better to know that early on and concentrate on better opportunities. Once a lot of time and effort has been committed, it can be hard to back away from a lost cause.
One of the sales coach’s first questions may be “Do we know what results the customer expects?” This question goes way beyond the simple statement of what products or services the salesperson is hoping to sell. This question is asking ‘why are they doing this?’ which may be all about some specific products or services, but may equally be about a much larger strategic issue, in which their products may play a part.
The salesperson may give simplistic answers based on the use of the products and services they sell, but this only addresses the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’ . Without a good understanding of the ‘why’, the business issues the prospect is trying to resolve and the different ways they can go about achieving them, the salesperson has limited understanding of their priorities and minimal likelihood of success.
To try to probe a little deeper the sales coach may move onto “How much do we know about their requirements?” which is trying to get at exactly what the salesperson has discovered so far about this potential sale. Their answer to this may well be restricted by the level of access the salesperson has within an organisation, or that they have simply found an issue they can sell to and been happy to stop there.
With these questions the sales coach is staring to point the salesperson in the direction they need to go without telling them what they should be doing. By making the salesperson find answers to these simple but expansive questions, the sales coach quickly discovers how much work is left to be done.