One of the most important things a sales manager can do to help their reps perform better is to coach them to improve their selling skills. Sales training is a critical first step in building reps’ selling skills, but without consistent manager coaching and feedback to support that training, the development of those new skills will stagnate. To deliver the most effective feedback, try these tips:
Be deliberate and consistent – If a manager only gives feedback when somebody has made a mistake, they are creating a negative connotation of feedback, which is turn can make the rep feel defensive as soon as the feedback begins. If the sales manager wants their feedback to be well-received, they should review sales calls with reps all of the time, regardless of whether the sales call had a positive or negative outcome. The consistency will make the rep more comfortable in receiving feedback in general, which in turn, will help them receive critical feedback with a more open mind.
Begin every feedback session with questions – When sales managers are teaching reps how to sell, they usually stress the importance of asking questions of prospective customers. The reason for this is to ensure the products or services the rep is recommending are consistent with the prospects’ needs, as well as to gain the prospects’ buy-in for the reps’ recommendations. Questions can serve a similar role in a manager giving feedback. By first seeking to understand why the rep took the action they did, it’s easier for the manager to know what to coach, as well as gain the reps’ buy-in for what they need to do differently.
Be specific rather than general – One of the most frequent complaints we hear from reps on our surveys is that their sales managers’ feedback is too general. Just imagine a golf pro telling their student to hit the ball harder rather than coaching them on how to modify their swing. For many reps, that’s the kind of feedback they receive. In order to make feedback most meaningful, a sales manager should use examples of what was done well or what wasn’t. When coaching for improvement, it’s important to offer specific ideas on how the reps’ questions, responses, arguments or behaviors should be modified to achieve a better outcome.
Focus on the behavior, not the person – A final key aspect of delivering effective feedback is to help the rep realize they have the ability to change their approach. This is why it’s critical to focus on the behavior they’re exhibiting rather than framing the issue as an aspect of their personality. If a rep is told that they’re disorganized or a bad listener or whatever the criticism may be, the rep is more likely to feel like it’s an aspect of who they are that they can’t change. However, if the manager discusses the behavior they’ve observed in situations, they can help the rep see that how they could modify that behavior the next time.
These tips are not the only aspects of feedback that are critical, but they provide a good place to start. Just remember that how feedback is delivered is as important as the feedback itself. When a sales manager uses these tips to help a rep feel more comfortable in receiving feedback, the rep can better implement the valuable ideas that the manager has to help the rep improve. Overall, if you deliver feedback the right way, then the rep may actually take action on your ideas.
You can always learn more ways to deliver feedback and coach your sales team more effectively by attending our EcSELL Institute Summit. For more information, click here: http://www.ecsellinstitute.com/summit-spring-2014
March 4, 2014
My family just finished submitting our taxes. It’s not my favorite time of year.
I dread it because it’s a time to take stock of choices made through the past year, make preparations for the next, and rummage through all the receipts I’ve squirreled away for 12 months. There’s always that fear that I was oblivious to something I did months ago that will now result in the paying of my children’s college education savings in back taxes.
February 27, 2014
February 26, 2014
The year was 1948, the last time the U.S. had won the Olympic gold in women’s gymnastics, and they vowed to end that streak in the 1996 games. Coach Bella Karolyi wanted different results than what had been produced from the past 38 years of U.S. gymnastics and knew little things would matter. Among many changes, the team of elite athletic girls didn’t even stay in the Olympic Village, coach selected instead a fraternity house on the Emory University Campus; a silent retreat to further bond, focus, prepare, avoid distractions, and vividly imagine dreams coming true. Changes would produce different results.
Later in the games, as it turned out, one of the greatest moments in Olympic history was un-folding in our living rooms involving 4’ 9” Kerri Strug, and all we got to witness the best part. Or did we…?
February 25, 2014
Consider the following question: Why should you have consistent one on one meeting’s with your sales reps? Now let me provide you the answer, because nothing motivates sales people to sell more than effective coaching. I have been pounding this point home on my last few blogs because it is very important to recognize the importance of what sales reps need from their manager to drive more sales performance. And part of being an effective coach is holding consistent and meaningful one on one conversations with your sales people. Now, obviously there are other key activities that manager’s must execute against to be an effective sales coach and you can see them here in this past blog, but for today let’s laser in on one on one’s.
I am well aware that pointing out the fact that one on one’s are important is far from earth shattering, but a lot of times we find is that is part of the problem. It is so obvious that they should be done that many times they are only talked about in theory and often times not done with consistency or effectiveness. My colleague, Sarah Wirth, put together a great blog a while back focusing on how to conduct an effective one on one and I have made that blog available at the bottom of this post. Today, I would like to focus on the flip side and discuss three mistakes I see sales mangers make all too often.
February 20, 2014
February 19, 2014
Like many of you, the EcSELL Institute leadership team has a weekly meeting where we discuss strategies, goals and progress. These team meetings help keep us on the same page, drive collaboration among different departments and ensure that we are focused on our shared priorities. Once a month, however, we dedicate our weekly meeting to a different purpose – our development as individuals and professionals. I have to confess this is the weekly meeting that I look forward to the most because it’s a chance to step away from the day-to-day work and invest in ourselves and each other.
EcSELL Institute research shows two of the most important things sales managers can do to motivate their reps is help them improve their selling skills and develop their careers. The reason these activities increase rep motivation is because people tend to be more engaged in their work when they are improving, learning and developing. And this is precisely why we as a leadership team dedicate two hours each month to our own learning and growth. That is, we all feel more energized when we’ve taken the time to consider a new idea or explore a different concept, so the investment of time yields a great return by amping up our engagement and motivation.
February 18, 2014
One of the great tools we have at EcSell is the power of survey data. Through research endeavors like our Through the Eyes of the Rep Survey and the Through the Eyes of the Manager Survey, we can capture thoughts, behaviors, and experiences directly from both sales reps and sales managers. After all, isn’t going straight to the source the best way to collect information? The results of these surveys often capture nuggets of knowledge that have us all nodding our heads realizing we just uncovered a layer to the big picture of sales coaching. I know I’m partial to the giddiness that comes with having information that helps us tailor and expand our understanding of the field, but that kind of power is pretty amazing when you think about it.
For example, we just ran an analysis of Through the Eyes of the Rep survey data to understand how a rep’s level of experience impacts their interactions with their manager. Through this survey, we were able to ask almost 700 reps about how often they meet one-to-one with their manager and the value they see in these meetings. We found some cool findings with real-world applications. Here’s a quick snapshot of the highlights:
February 13, 2014
Hello to you! Its February here in the Midwest and that means cold, cold, cold. A high of 7 degrees today to be exact, and for those of you in much warmer climes, may your palm trees snap in half from those gently swaying breezes. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. So what does that have to do with anything? Well there isn’t much to smile about when it’s this cold unless you just happen to be passionate about performance coaching. Because right now the Winter Olympics are showing us each and every day the results that great coaching can produce. Great coaching like the kind that Karyn Garossino brings forth.
Performance Coaching and High Performance