What does it look like when you’re sales coaching? I’m not talking about abstract theoretical descriptions of what it means to be a good sales coach. What I’m asking is, what do good sales coaching practices look like? If you could take a picture of what it means to be a good sales coach, what Kodak moment would you capture?
This question came to me a couple of weeks ago. I moonlight as a lecturer for an undergrad Sociology course. As this past fall semester came to a close, I decided to offer the class an extra credit opportunity. Rather than the typical assignment to write an essay on a given dry topic, I decided to ask them to submit something more engaging and personal. To earn extra points, the students needed to take a closer look at the world around them and show me where they found applications of the course material. Specifically, I wanted them to take a picture of these applications and write a one-paragraph summary and discussion of how the photo connects to a specific concept from the class. For example, in the Criminology course, one student took a picture of a large correctional facility in their town, including the employee parking lot. For this picture, the student discussed the prison industrial complex and how the business of crime brings jobs and revenue to local economies.
Reading their submissions got me thinking. If we can take a picture and explain sociological concepts, the same should work for sales coaching, right? But what does good sales coaching look like? This really got me thinking and here’s where I would start:
I’ve blogged about this little guy before, but this is Rubble. He was an early Christmas present for my daughter. Since his arrival to our household in November, Bill, the EcSell President and my equivalent of a sales manager, has asked about him every single time we have talked. I’m sure part of this has to do with the irresistible charm of a puppy (that you are not housebreaking) but what it really demonstrates to me is the effort on Bill’s end to build a relationship with me. We know from our research that part of what makes a great sales coach is a manager who builds relationships with their reps and whose reps feel that their manager cares about them as a person. As small as Bill’s inquiry about Rubble may be, it demonstrates this care and interest in my life outside of the office and numbers.
While this may look like just a fancy cappuccino, this picture shows the setting for our President’s most recent one-on-one meeting with our Director of Marketing. Bill schedules a time to chat with each of his direct reports once a month. This is time outside of staff meetings or other group gatherings to discuss specific projects. It’s an opportunity for him to engage with us on a one-to-one basis to talk about work, life, the future and pretty much anything else that comes up. These meetings are important because it allows for our manager to connect with us as individuals on a regular basis. He always keeps these scheduled appointments and gives us his full attention when we chat. As a coach, one-to-one meetings are a best practice and time well spent. I especially like this photo because it shows that they stepped away from the distractions of the office environment to visit.
I won’t belabor the point here and I’ll wrap up with this thought: what pictures could your reps take of you demonstrating good sales coaching? What pictures would you take yourself? If ideas for photos don’t immediately pop into your head, it may be time to take a harder look at the actions and behaviors you actively take to lead your team.
What to learn more about the actions and behaviors of top sales managers? Join us for our spring Sales Coaching Summit this May.