Think of the best sales coach you have ever worked for. Why did you select that individual? I would venture that this person possesses certain behaviors in a profound way. I would also surmise you were a highly engaged individual during your tenure and you outperformed.
I work with sales leaders for a living. I study the challenges of selling organizations daily and from my study of great sales coaches I have witnessed and highly believe that these five behaviors are what great coaches exhibit.
1) Know that differentiation with customers comes from their people, not products and/or services.
Great leaders know in most cases that products and services are somewhat at parity in the marketplace. A strong argument can be made about any company’s reputation, quality and or strong services. The true differentiation lies in the sales representatives’ ability to help the customer along in their journey. Whether it is to help them with a strategic issue to address, or help put creative thought into solutions. The bottom line is great leaders know this and look for talented individuals who can separate themselves from the rest of pack. Average leaders look for certain skills and experiences that can be identifiable but miss the big picture.
2) Their team’s performance is a direct reflection of their ability to coach.
Let me ask a question to highlight this area and back it up by research. Let’s assume you had one choice of an optimal situation. A) You have a favorite sports team made of great players and you just learned you hired an average coach to lead the team. Or B) You have a favorite sports team made of average players and you learned they just hired a great coach. In almost every situation, individuals choose B. Why did you choose your selection?
EcSell Institute research proves this point reveals that the top 20 percent of coaches generate $4.1 million more in revenue than the bottom 80 percent. In addition, the research points out that these top 20 percent of performing coaches had much stronger coaching scores and coached consistently and frequently across the team. There are many characteristics of great coaches which I will address; however, great sales coaches know their team’s performance is a direct reflection on their ability to coach. (Find the research mentioned here)
3) Leadership skills are challenging to develop but vital. Others would rather spend days managing up.
Simply put is leaders work on being leaders. They read, they learn, they observe, they ask, they challenge themselves to be better. John Maxwell defines leadership in one word: Influence. I highlight this area because leaders practice what they know. They are constantly asking “why would my team join me at any cause?” Sales coaching is a craft and the best coaches know they need to work at their craft every day.
4) They know the leading behaviors of success when most others can only manage to the metrics.
This is often very misunderstood. Metrics are easy to measure. Quota, close rate, days to close, etc. The challenge is average coaches manage to these metrics. For example, “close rates are not high” so we challenge them to close more deals without behavior modification. They try to fix what needs fixing and don’t have the insights to manage the leading indicators of success, which are the selling behaviors. For instance, how effective is their customer engagement process and questioning? What is their business acumen score? Do they have the innate talent to help their customers win in the marketplace?
5) Everyone has room to grow and needs to be challenged.
Great sales coaches don’t just spend time in the areas that need immediate attention. The best know that each and every single individual on your team has the ability to perform at a higher level. This means spending time with top performers as well as bottom performers. They have a solid understanding of the behaviors that drive results (I spoke of earlier) and turn that into actionable goals for each and every individual. They are not afraid to put everyone out of their comfort zone including themselves. They believe that a small failure is a good thing as long the approach was performed correctly. These coaches know proper inputs drive outputs. Average leaders tend to spend time on problems.
Although these behaviors might seem obvious they take rigor and a process to develop to top-performance levels. Do you have a process to leverage these behaviors in your organization?