I recently blogged that being a great coach requires that you know which hat you’re wearing the very moment you engage with a team member. Everyone wears more than one hat and although your intent is positive, your impact can be negative when failing to first determine which hat you are wearing.
Multiple hat examples outside of business include mother, father, friend, grandparent, troop leader, sports coach, and more. The point is that as a sports coach, wearing 100% of your “parent hat” will make you less effective than wearing a 100% sports coach hat. It’s not that you can’t be good, it’s that you lessen your chance to be great. The same principle applies in the workplace and with workplace teams. Make sure you know which hat you're wearing.
Let’s frame this discussion in the sales arena. If you’ve tried the advice Jack Daly shared in my previous blog - to coach specifically on a training call, a joint call, and a sales call - then you’re now ready to fine tune your approach. Jack makes it clear:
Information, Not Control - You can’t be helpful if you don’t know what’s going on in the field. It’s not a control issue—it’s an information issue. Get in the process of taking notes on each salesperson you work with. Start accumulating information about them and their customers and prospects. Let a salesperson know your purpose: To help the salesperson grow professionally and to grow his or her production.
Before you start, there are two important fundamental points to make before going on sales calls with salespeople:
Fundamental one – give plenty of advance notice. Surprise visits to the field are not appreciated by your sales team since it implies a lack of trust. Set up your schedule at least a week in advance.
Fundamental two – go with a plan. Don’t say to the salesperson, “Well, what should we work on this time out?” Instead, review your prior notes, current production, and call report - and then state where you think it is best to focus. Always solicit feedback an agreement from the salesperson. Remember that if you demonstrate that you’re doing your homework, sales people will be more prone to do theirs.
Jack further suggests that you build on the fundamentals by establishing 9 guidelines to help keep your calls focused:
1. Begin by reiterating the objective of the day’s calls. Be sure to show how your current objectives will fulfill the salesperson’s overall game plan.
2. Build on the last coaching session. Review with the sales person what you each agreed upon and what got completed. See if anything needs to be changed or discussed before setting out.
3. Let the salesperson do the scheduling. If you’re being “set up” with calls only to his or her best customers, you will know soon enough and you can correct accordingly.
4. Agree on the type of calls. Will it be training calls? Joint calls? Coaching calls?
5. Make the first call as positive as possible. Your presence increases the tension so make this as easy as you can for the salesperson.
6. Before each call ask about the purpose. There should be a specific goal on every call and specific approach for each. Knowing beforehand helps you better assess the call later.
7. Practice being a keen observer. Develop a mental checklist for what you’re looking for so you can avoid taking notes during the calls. If you’re on the road, make quick notes in the car between calls. Focus on the primary changes to be suggested. A list could include any of the following:
- Questions the salesperson asked
- Questions the prospect asked
- Percent of time talking versus using listening strategies
- Use of benefit statements
- Ask for business
8. Remember your purpose and never take over a call. If you do that, your relationship with the salesperson is on the way to ruin. Your primary reason for being there is training, not seeing how much can be sold.
9. At the appropriate time, describe what you observe. But remember:
- Focus on one or two specific items
- Let the salesperson talk
- Agree on what can be done differently
At the end of the day, get an overall agreement on what the salesperson is to do and what you will do to help. Write it down. When giving feedback to the salesperson, ask yourself: what do I want to communicate? Where do I want to focus suggested changes? How can I communicate this information so that the salesperson will be receptive? What specific solution or goal may I offer, and how may I assist the salesperson to achieve this goal?
Jack’s talk about focusing on a dashboard for your sales people is what Rhythm Systems does for successful growth companies and teams. If you’re not following the above advice from Jack, that is you aren’t creating a dashboard for your sales team, then you’re leaving money on the table. Share comments below on what’s working, how you're struggling, and tips for coaching success so we can all get more predictable results from our coaching efforts.
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