Sales Coaching Habit #2 – Coach to Your Existing Sales Process
Sales coaching needs a context in which to set goals and stretch the salesperson, you can’t just say to the coach “Go and coach the salespeople.” They need to coach to the “known” and the ideal context would seem to be the company sales process. This gives a defined set of parameters to work from and one that at least gives a firm basis to evaluate development.
A successful strategy to develop a sales process has been to identify best practices. By getting a number of top-performing salespeople to record what they do, how they do it, and when they do it, a sales process can be identified. After a period of evaluation and testing, followed by objective feedback, the process can be documented and used as a basis for training and coaching.
The more salespeople that can be involved in the testing of the process, the better. When the salespeople feel included, they will be far more committed to following the process because they contributed to creating it.
The steps formulated in the new sales process can form the foundation for specific performance standards that give the salespeople a roadmap to follow and allow the organization to assess the development needs of each salesperson.
Having a context to coach from then leads to the question, “What are you trying to achieve — long-term skills improvement, or short term gain (winning deals)?” Ideally you want to achieve both these, but they won’t both be achievable at the same coaching session.
In a recent survey for The Complex Sale, 75% of respondents said deal coaching was very important to their success and yet 57% reported they needed some significant improvement in this area. This may indicate that getting the deal is taking precedence over the long-term development of salespeople, which in the long run may be counterproductive.
The evidence shows that the one-off actions salespeople take to improve their deal-level performance can be successfully coached, but these actions often don’t get repeated from deal to deal. They need more high-level skills development to embed these actions into their working lives. Recent research by SEC confirms that approximately 50% coaching at tactical level for individual sales and 50% coaching at high level for skills is a good compromise to achieve longer-lasting results.
One could argue that this sounds more like the traditional role for training; however, lasting skills development needs more time than the traditional one- or two-day course with limited follow-up or practice time.