How to be a great sales coach

10 May 2021

Coaching for Sales Transformation is unknown to most sales leaders, but how can you become the best sales coach for your team?

 

A few weeks ago, we discussed the idea of Coaching for Sales Transformation and the top 3 reasons why it should be at the front of every sales leaders’ mind this year. 

In this blog, we will explore what it means to be a great coach, not just in general but for Sales Transformation and what steps you can take to become an excellent sales coach. We also provide a quick and easy-to-use coaching checklist template that sales managers can use when observing how their sales teams interact with customers and display the Sales values and mindsets that customers want to see when being sold to. 

 

Coach vs Sales coach 

 

The fundamental core to becoming a great coach is the care you need to have for peopleGreat coaches can understand what makes a person tickwhilst also having a passion for the individuals’ performance. 

Touching upon the notion of deliberate practice mentioned in the previous bloga great coach will need to be able to get inside someone’s head and most importantly understand their psychology. In doing so, the coach can help them with learning how to improve those critical areas of performance.

At Consalia, we regularly talk about values and mindsets and the impact this can have on a salesperson’s actions and performanceOutside of the Consalia Sales Mindsets, an important mindset to have in the context of coaching to continually improve oneself is a Growth Mindset, a term coined by Professor Carol Dweck. 

Fundamentally, Dweck suggests that we have two kinds of mindset: fixed and growth, the latter being the complete opposite of the former. 

A fixed mindset will be reluctant to believe there is any room for future development. Rather, individuals with this mindset believe that they cannot change. People with fixed mindsets will believe that there is nothing they can do to make any difference to the way they are and the way they perceive situations. 

On the other hand, a growth mindset will believe the exact opposite. People with this kind of mindset will believe in continuous improvement and will strive to better themselves in areas that they are already good at, as well as the areas that they know they need to improve their performance in.  

These individuals that have a growth mindset will work with a coach to focus on one or two key areas of improvement (deliberate practice). 

 

Great – so how does a Sales coach differ? 

 

The biggest difference between a normal coach and a sales coach is – yes, you guessed it – domain expertise.  

Typically, sales management has always been very performance-oriented. Various sales managers around the world and perhaps even you, the reader, will have a way of working that is quite common amongst your peers. And this is key. 

It is important to understand that there is common way of working, whether it be in the day-to-day activities of a salesperson or techniques that are specific to the sales profession, great sales coaches will need to understand these elements to recognise what makes a salesperson tick. This is vital in being able to connect the principles of coaching with the specific items that will help them improve. 

For example, if an organisation identified that they could multiply their revenue numbers by up to ten times by selling to Chief Financial Officers, the expectation would be to tell your sales team to simply meet with more Chief Financial Offers. 

Quite self-explanatory. 

However, telling someone to do something doesn’t necessarily mean the action will happen. For example, there may be a reluctance to approach more CFO’s. So what do you do when someone isn’t taking the initiative to approach more CFO’s when you as the sales leader know that this could enhance your revenue numbers by a significant amount? 

A great sales coach will work with the member of the sales team to find out: 

  • What’s getting in their way? 
  • Why aren’t they doing it? 
  • What are the problems? 

Could it be that the Account Manager simply doesn’t understand what makes a CFO tick? 

The relationship between a sales leader who is a great sales coach and a member of the sales team relies on honesty. It may simply be an educational piece that needs to be addressed. Perhaps they’re not sure what to talk about with a CFO – so what options can you explore together? 

Financial awareness courses may be the answer, or simply sitting down with a member of the suppliers’ finance team, to talk about what makes people in finance tick. 

To be a great sales coach, is to have great domain understanding in isolating the precise need through the deliberate practice method. This is where Sales Transformation can happen. 

 

Staring at you in the face 

 

When the idea of Coaching for Sales Transformation is explained in this way, it seems very obvious. 

However, if you have never coached before, what do you do? 

If you are not a coach and your salesperson is not approaching CFO’s or your target buyer, they may be reluctant to tell you the true reason why they cannot get appointments booked in, or in some cases deflect the question altogether.  

A non-coaching manager may never get to the bottom of the issue and the salesperson will continue to perform at a level that will not be satisfactory to their manager.  

To combat this, you will need to change your psychological contract with your team member. If the salesperson does not believe that you are going to help them improve their performance, they will be reluctant to enter a conversation that exposes potential vulnerabilities of their working approach.  

By simply inspecting a salesperson’s approach and being tougher on what they need to report on a quarterly basis will get the sales manager nowhere. Nothing will change because the salesperson will not feel the level of trust required for them to share sensitive personal information with you. 

Therefore, Coaching is the change of psychological contract between manager and team member. 

 

How can sales managers coach to the mindsets? 

 

By employing the Sales values and mindsets that underpin our approach to Sales Performance Transformation, it gives the sales coach a smarter frame for asking the right questions in one-to-one sessions in a non-confrontational way that the salespeople see as supportive. Together with the domain expertise within the sales profession, a sales manager will then be able to know to what extent a salesperson has used the values and mindsets e.g. Tactful Audacity, within their conversations with customers. 

To help you in your coaching efforts, we have developed a coaching checklist that serves as a simple tool that sales managers can use when observing how their sales teams interact with customers. 

 

Download ‘Mindsets for salespeople: coaching checklist’ 

 

This checklist is designed to help sales managers keep the Sales values and mindsets at the top of their minds when observing sales conversations in action, or when reviewing account plans for examples of mindsets in action.  

 

What next? 

 

As mentioned from our experience in a previous blog, many sales managers simply do not know that sales coaching exists. Some may have also been through generic coaching courses as an introduction into the world of coaching, however, the lack of domain expertise in sales, hinders the chance to truly be transformative. 

Our Coaching for Sales Transformation programme is supported by hands-on coaching experience, as well as coaching models that are underpinned by academic research. If you are thinking about taking sales coaching seriously, we recommend getting in touch to see if the programme is right for you and your objectives. 

 

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

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