Here are ten best practices sales leaders can adopt to improve their coaching performance. How many are part of your routine?
- View coaching as a process, not an event, so growth can be measured over time. The coach must establish a coaching cadence where coaching sessions take place every two weeks at a minimum. Coaching is a salesperson-focused competency designed to help salespeople consistently grow and develop their skills. The manager must build a climate of continuous change in order to prevent plateaus from occurring in the coaching cycle.
- Coaching should be integrated into the company culture and viewed as a key component of the leadership function. It is important to build a safe, positive, supportive environment where coaching focuses on achieving goals as well as problem solving. Specific coaching activities must be integrated into the manager's behavior plan.
- Instill personal accountability in the mind of the salesperson, as this fuels performance improvement. Coaching works best with salespeople who hold themselves to a higher standard of performance and accept that growth is their own responsibility.
- Eliminate the “called to the principal’s office” mentality. Coaching is only successful if it is a part of a salesperson's, development program and not viewed as punitive. It is important to eliminate the “gotcha” mentality and to build a positive environment where salespeople associate coaching with personal goal achievement.
- Begin with a full assessment of the salesperson as well as the business situation driving the coaching process. You must understand the salesperson's current level of competency as well as the relevant behavioral drivers if you expect to provide a holistic solution during the coaching process.
- Resist the urge to simply fix short term problems. The coach must fully understand the depth of the issue prior to helping the salesperson deal with it.
- Block the urge to get creative or “wing it.” It is important for the coach to prepare properly for each session and not get pulled into the “coach on the fly” mentality. Coaching success is directly related to the coach’s ability to follow the Sandler coaching methodology to the letter.
- Be ready to deal with the internal issues the salesperson faces as well as the more obvious external problems. The effective coach must focus on the Sandler concept of self-worth, which incorporates building a strong identity to support the development of the sales role. Without this holistic approach, coaching cannot deliver a sustainable impact.
- Build a self-coaching model the salesperson can utilize between sessions to support the growth attained during each session. Supporting the actions taken during the coaching session with reinforcing “homework” prevents the peaks-and-valleys pattern that can turn coaching into a mercurial rollercoaster ride.
- Stick to facts. Coaching should be based on the facts gathered from the salesperson's behavior and recounting of events. There is no place in effective coaching for guesswork or mind reading. Use questions to probe below the surface for the salesperson's version of reality to uncover the facts that lie beneath the surface.
Incorporating these best practices will help you create an environment where the coach and salesperson can work together to achieve success.
Download a chapter or purchase the book, The Coach's Playbook; Breaking the Performance Code.