Developmental Sales Coaching

Live coaching is one of the most important things you can do to help your salespeople be more successful in achieving their objectives.

You have just completed a team call. How do you debrief the call? You have 15 minutes before you leave for a flight. This is almost the perfect amount of time — if you focus on one thing. By using a developmental approach, you can coach effectively in 10 to 15 minutes and achieve great results over a short period of time — especially if you coach one time per week either face-to-face or over the phone.

Here is a recap of a four-step process to help ensure your salespeople gain maximum benefit from your coaching. Your tendency, if you are like most people in sales, whether managers or salespeople, is to tell more than ask. Don't.

Developmental Sales Coaching Process

State the Purpose — Start with stating the purpose in a neutral way. Don't compliment and don't criticize. Say you want to debrief the call to help the salesperson achieve his/her objectives by debriefing the call.

Ask Questions — Ask what the salesperson feels went well and then what were areas for improvement. Acknowledge and drill down and get the salesperson to analyze and think strategically. By Asking vs. Telling, you can:

See where the salesperson is on his/her learning curve
Get buy-in
Work on the right obstacle
Learn something
Help the salesperson develop judgment

Don't settle for short answers. Acknowledge, probe, acknowledge, probe — hold back for three minutes and help him/her self-assess.

Provide Your Feedback — Once the salesperson has self-assessed, it is critical that you give your feedback — two to three specific strengths and one specific, important area for improvement (it is developmental coaching because it is one at a time). Ask how he/she feels about what you have said. You can't remove the obstacle if there isn't agreement there is a problem.

Problem Solve — Ask, “What is the obstacle to doing X (the area for improvement)?” How do you propose to do X in the future? Practice, demo, give examples, check. Decide on the action steps to correct. Spend 75% of your 15 minutes here.

Close on Agreement — Ask the salesperson to summarize the action steps, time frame, and follow-up plan. Thank and end on a positive note of encouragement.

Next month, we will cover what to do when the salesperson objects to your feedback or having to self-assess — i.e., “You're the manager, just tell me what to do.”

By coaching by asking, you will make so much more progress. You can help your salespeople become responsible for their own development. Your job as a coach is to help each salesperson do great things without you! Set an environment of coaching in which you teach more by asking and listening than telling.