Properly coaching sales teams can make a huge difference in the success of your business. But there’s more to it than movies and television would have you believe.
Many companies today don’t bother to invest in coaching sales teams. Maybe they think the financial rewards are motivators enough, or perhaps they’re just worried about investing in something that won’t give much in the way of returns. Whatever the case, sales teams at these companies suffer from a lack of guidance, and whether the business leaders know it or not, profits suffer as well.
That’s right. Coaching sales teams can lead to increased revenue. A 2016 study by Brainshark indicated that companies with effective coaching programs for their salespeople saw up to a 28% increase in closed sales. That’s pretty significant, especially if you’re selling something expensive, and it also suggests that whatever money is pumped into sales coaching comes back around, and then some.
But coaching sales teams isn’t necessarily easy. Different salespeople have different needs, and it’s up to the sales coach to identify and understand those needs. It doesn’t stop there, either. Once you know a salesperson’s needs, you’ll need to find a way to engage them in addressing those needs, something more than a lecture or financial incentive.
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7 Essential tips for effectively coaching sales teams to success
1. Establish a relationship
As simple as it sounds, this is too often overlooked. But establishing relationships with your salespeople will do a few things. First and foremost, it will help to build trust, a key component of sales. Just as you’d want to build trust with a client, you’ll want to do the same with your employees. Doing so will not only help you understand their needs, but it also means that the salespeople are more likely to listen to you as a coach because they know and respect you.
Remember, too, that coaching isn’t about lecturing—it’s about training. Coaching means that you get the salesperson to rationalize a situation, think through solutions, and execute the one that makes the most sense. Rather than tell them the right answer to a scenario, ask them questions. Lead them to the answer, but make sure that the answer comes to them on their own. Sometimes you may hit a roadblock with this tactic, which is okay, as long as it’s not happening all the time.
2. Slow and steady wins the race
Coaching sales teams isn’t something you do once, and then everything is magically fixed. It’s an ongoing process that will take time, especially if you have a large sales team. For each person that you’re coaching, pick an area where they could improve, and commit to working on that area first before moving on to the next. This will help the salesperson engage and focus on a particular issue, and once they find success in one area, it’s easier to move on and continue to grow.
3. Gather feedback
Not every coach is effective for every person. Some people gel better with certain personalities. That’s why a coach needs to gather feedback from the salesperson to ensure that the coaching is effective. Ask them how they’re getting on with changes to their processes. Find out what they think they need out of a coaching experience. This will help you as a sales coach tailor the approach in a way that meets the needs of a salesperson rather than just delivering cookie-cutter coaching that likely won’t be effective for everyone.
4. Coach in real-time when you can
It’s not always possible to be in the field with a sales agent, so it’s hard to tell what may be working and what may not be working until the numbers come in. However, there are some instances when you may be able to engage in live coaching. For example, software like Call Logic offers whisper coaching where a manager can listen in on a call with between a salesperson and a clients. This is especially effective because you can guide the salesperson through a real-life scenario and hopefully help them to see how and why new tactics are effective.
5. Discover motivation
One of the reasons that coaching sales teams can be a challenge is that not everyone is motivated by the same thing. Money is a good incentive, but it’s not the only one, nor is it always the best one. This is why establishing those relationships is so important. Find out what motivates each salesperson—perhaps it’s their family or a commitment to climbing the corporate ladder. Whatever the motivation may be, you’ll unlock an essential component for improvement when you discover it. Weave the motivation into the sales coaching, and you’ll likely find that the employee’s drive improves when they see how what they’re doing is tied to what they care about.
6. Listen actively
When the person being coached is talking, listen closely to their answers, and look for patterns. We all too often get caught up in developing our response to someone while they’re speaking, which means we’re not listening as well as we could be. For coaching, that means you might miss something important. Ask good, open-ended questions and then listen to the answers in full before formulating a response. It’s okay if there’s a few seconds of silence between their answer and your response—it shows that you’re taking time to consider a strategy relevant to all you’ve just heard. This is very similar to how you’d want to handle a prospective client; listen closely so you can discover their needs and propose a solution.
7. Make the investment
Finally, coaching sales teams is hard work—work that not every sales manager is cut out for. If you don’t have experience or the time to learn effective coaching techniques, it’s worth the money to hire an outside consultant to do the coaching. These are trained professionals who know very well how to reach and motivate people. Think it’ll be too expensive? Think again. Some research indicates that the typical return on a coaching investment is seven times what you initially spent. That’s a significant amount. In the end, you’ll end up with higher sales, more revenue, and more successful, motivated employees.
There’s no question that coaching sales teams is hard work. But it’s work that will pay off in a happier, more effective team. And as we know, happy teams create happy customers.
Invest in software to help your sales reps be more efficient and close more sales. Try a free demo of Call Logic today to see what we can do for you!