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Sales Coach – You Need To Be There

Sales Coach – You Need To Be There Minnesota Pivotal Advisors

A basketball coach would never call the plays without actually being at the game, right? Well, why would a sales leader call the shots if they never see how their salespeople interact with their customers? Most sales leaders judge how well their players are doing based on their numbers alone. But if all those numbers are the only thing the sales leader is seeing, how do they know what their salesperson did to reach those numbers? Here’s why a sales coach needs to get more involved.

Poor Performing Salesperson

Imagine it is halfway through the year, and you have one salesperson who isn't meeting their numbers. You check out their scorecard, and it's confirmed they are indeed underperforming. There are several ways you can go about handling this person, three of which are:

  • Get rid of the salesperson and start over – it will take a bit of time to hire someone new.
  • Get rid of the person and save the company a little bit of money – you'll be playing with fewer people, however.
  • Work with the salesperson to improve their skills.

Those are just some broad ways in which you can go about handling an underperforming salesperson. Sales leaders have a responsibility to identify why their team isn't performing. They need to do what they can to help that salesperson improve, for example, provide the necessary tools and resources, coach them, and ask many questions.

After you've worked with that salesperson and they are still not a good fit, termination may be the best option. Termination shouldn't be taken lightly, and it's often costly to replace people. According to Salesforce, "Research has found that the average cost of replacing a sales rep is $115,000."

Working with that salesperson to improve their skills maybe your best option and one that will help you build more trust and credibility with your team.

If you want more information on how to build trust, check out our blog, "Habits For Establishing Credibility As A Sales Leader."

Create More Opportunities

First, you’ll want to examine how your salespeople are performing. If salespeople haven’t had the opportunity to hone their skills, they are continually “practicing selling” in front of the customer instead of having a defined method or sales process. So, it is essential to create some opportunities for them to practice. Try adding it into your weekly sales meeting, your 1-on-1, or jump on an extra call with them.

One of the best forms of practice is role-playing. The thing about role-playing is it allows salespeople to experience real-life sales scenarios in a stress-free and safe setting. It also provides your salespeople with objective feedback about their performance, which you can then use to diagnose issues and encourage your sales team to monitor their interpersonal impact.

Tools for More Opportunities

Sometimes role-playing isn’t enough, why not use some tools to get an inside look into how those calls with customers are actually going?

One tool you can try is Gong. It provides a unique glimpse into your salesperson interactions with your customers by using the product’s conversation intelligence capabilities. It can tell who is doing most of the talking helps you see what is working and what is not to respond in real-time. Then you can then put your sales coach hat on and review it with your salesperson together.

Another tool you can try is Refract. Refract analyses every call and demo, profiling the revenue-defining moments, revealing what leads to successful outcomes for your team today—tracking your salespeople’s won and lost income. You can then review and coach on how the calls went and give feedback based on what is considered a “good” sales call.

When Is "Good" Established?

It’s hard to compare or critique a sales call when you or your team don’t know what good looks like. Whenever you bring in someone new, make sure to establish what a good call should be. Generally speaking, a good sales call has five sections:

  • Agenda – what type of call is this?
  • Introduction – create context and build a positive rapport.
  • Discovery – ask them a lot of questions.
  • Discussion – how can your product or services help them?
  • Next steps – have an action for both of you.

Once you have your “good call” detailed out, you’ll want to make sure your team is checking all these boxes. You’ll also want to refresh this checklist with your team from time to time. Doing this makes for a great sales coach.

Get Your Head In The Game

Now that you have established what good looks like and you’ve created ways for your salesperson to practice, it’s time for you to get even further involved with your sales coaching by participating in a ride-along. You can shadow or listen to a salesperson’s meeting or phone call with a prospect to get better information for how those calls are going. But just like a football coach, if you run onto the field during the game, there will be penalties, so do not take over the sales call.

Make notes of where the salesperson could make adjustments and develop a curbside discussion checklist to develop those skills. The four areas you want on your checklist are:

  • Overall impression
  • What was discovered
  • Solutions or other opportunities
  • Ask the customer for the sale

After you’ve gone over the curbside checklist, it is essential to reinforce what the salesperson needs for further development and then coach them on those skills.

 If you want more information on how to create a curbside checklist, check out our guide, “How To Build Your Own Curbside Check-in Tool.”

As you apply the process of managing a ride-along and the sales process, the methodology will help to drive revenue. When all is said and done, it is crucial to communicate about how things went. Discuss what worked and what did not work, and then further discuss the plan to achieve specific goals.

In The End

Sales Coaching can’t be done solely by the numbers. You have to establish what good looks like, set guidelines, have checklists, examine their calls, and reinforce best practices. Once you’ve seen how your salespeople reach those numbers, you can make the final call on their performance.

About Mike Braun

Mike is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 30+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Mike has been a guest speaker for many groups such as University of Minnesota, MN Quality Council, and ASTD. If you want to find out more about Mike check out his profile here.
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