I'm thankful for all of the average teachers and coaches I've had in my life, for without them I would not know what it felt like to have a truly great coach. Also, I would include all of the crappy teachers and coaches in this mix as well because learning from the worst has its merits too. However, for the sake of this brief flow of consciousness I am only going to focus on the elite.
My colleague, Bill Eckstrom, blogged on this topic a while back about how remarkable coaching is a conscious choice and he is right. You see, the thing that separates the top performing 10% of great sales coaches versus the remaining 90% of sales managers is that they have consciously decided to execute against their conviction, which research supports, that nothing drives their sales team performance more than their ability to coach. Period! While this seems like a very simple premise, I promise you that where it falls apart is creating a strategy for this premise and executing against it. The great sales coaches out there do not allow this to happen because they know that their ability to be a great coach is far to important to leave to chance.
So, what does a proven sales coaching strategy look like?
- First, you must figure out a way to measure the level of effectiveness to which coaching is occurring today with your team. Without creating an objective baseline for coaching effectiveness you will have no way to understand where coaching gaps exist, and more importantly how much improvement has been gained 9-12 months down the road.
- You must be educated and trained to the 5 high payoff coaching activities. These 5 coaching activities are what research shows motivates sales producers to sell more. And just like sales people, the sales coach must be consistent in doing this activities and must do them at an elite level of effectiveness.
- You need an implementation and execution plan that is right for you. You are not going to become the worlds best sales coach overnight and even when you do become the worlds best sales coach you will still need a path - it will simply look different. Again, sales coaching is far too important to performance to just leave to ad hoc activities and behaviors.
- You must track and analyze your coaching work with your producers. It would be a great oversight to complete steps 1-3 and then not have any way of understanding how your coaching work is correlating to sales team performance. For example: great sales departments can tell you how much time their sales leaders spend with their top/average/ and bottom performers and can correlate those percentages to sales success. Can you?
- Change. If you are executing this strategy you are going to always be exposed to critical information. That is great, but it is what you do with that information to create positive change that makes all the difference.
If you are looking to become a great sales coach, or perhaps looking to build on your greatness, my advice would be to emulate what the great coaches are doing: always be continually learning, create a comprehensive strategy for your coaching work, execute that strategy and analyze it for results and opportunities.
If you have any questions about any of these strategy steps, especially number 4, please feel free to reach me at email@example.com
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