I am a baseball mom. It's a short sentence that packs a whole lot of responsibility. Our son Aden, age 13, plays between 60-70 games during the regular season and when not in regular season there's post season, then pre-season, indoor practice, lessons...you get the picture.
What's most interesting about our experience with baseball this year is not necessarily the skill development, or even watching Aden and his 'band of brothers' play ball. What has given us the most growth as a family is the experience of watching Aden go through one of the longest and most painful batting slumps you could imagine. Out of 73 at bats, to date, he has only hit the ball 9 nine times to get on base. Nine.
It's not for lack of talent, or skill or dedication to the technical aspects of his swing...it is solely due to the fact that he has developed performance anxiety. The responsibility that I feel to Aden is not necessarily how to help him dig himself out of the slump, but instead to acknowledge it, embrace it, learn from it and learn how to move forward.
What does one do in these circumstances--lean on and learn from your coach. What do you do when you are that coach? Go back to the basics-- the fundamentals of the game.
It's the same in sales as it is in baseball, right? For most of us that are knee deep in the 2nd quarter of the fiscal year, we can be vulnerable to the same type of slump. How do we get back on track? What are the fundamentals?
1. Create a coaching culture: Setting an expectation that coaching is a valued company initiative. It is not enough just to delegate or put a 'stamp of approval' on sales coaching. It is a discipline that must be practiced from the top down. It has been proven to be the most cost effective and efficient way to increase sales revenue as well as decrease the time it takes for new sales people to become productive (as well as a way to trim down turnover.)
2. Educate and Train to Sales Coaching Best Practices to the top high-payoff coaching activities that are proven time and time again to drive sales growth. It's not enough just to know what they are...sales coaches need to define their frequency, provide company-standard forms and be able to track and measure the effects of coaching on the bottom line. The coaching activities that will motivate your sales team members to sell more, be more productive and increase motivation to sell are:
- Joint call work with their managers that includes pre-call plans and post call evaluations
- Regular team meetings
- Career development plan discussions with their managers (at least yearly if not bi-annually)
3. Be Sure to Recognize Team Members: According the EcSell Institute's, The 6 Pillars of Sales Management: Pillar #6—Compensation, Recognition and Rewards: —"One of the simplest and most effective ways to to practice recognition is the manager's ability to recognize and reward performance.
Obviously large forms of recognition and reward, such as bonuses, trips, etc. are defined on a sales department level and the parameters for earning them are often laid out at the beginning of the fiscal year. But there are numerous things that a sales manager can do that are just as and perhaps even more meaningful than some of these larger, more costly awards. Here are some of our favorite “free” ways to recognize and reward sales reps:"
- Handwritten notes
- Recognition letter sent to their loved ones detailing their achievement
- Sales contents that are limited in scope and tied to the completion of a specific task or goal
Ultimately, it's when things are not going well or when you're in your own mid-season slump when your behaviors as a coach for your team define not only your ability to lead, but also your team's ability to elevate their performance through a manager's ability to coach. Take a few moments during this time of year to assess where you are at as a coach, pivot if necessary, then step in the box and swing!
If the EcSell Institute can help you with any sales management or sales coaching initiatives then please feel free to reach out to us. We can help sales departments grow sales and increase performance by working exclusively with sales managers and providing the right resources, tools and best practices to help you HIT THE NUMBER.