3 Tips for Getting Sales Managers to Coach with Agility
Helping Managers Develop a Modern Sales Coaching Style
Behavior change at the management level leads to change across the organization.
This chain of change, however, is not the only reason for sales managers to grow their skills. Managers who adopt new behaviors demonstrate that they are committing to the change they want to see in the sales team.
Advocating for change means living it. The value of change at the top is clear. What remains unclear is how to do it.
Sales managers may be anchored to old practices that succeeded in the past. The challenge is to help managers see that the changes in sales today are greater and faster than ever before.
Effective behaviors become outdated fast. The answer is to embrace behaviors that work in a setting of constant change. These behaviors are iterative and flexible. They are sprints. Helping sales managers change their behavior to an incremental and adaptive coaching style means showing them the power of Sprint CoachingTM.
Here, we offer three ways to get sales managers to change their behavior in favor of the Sprint Coaching methodology.
1. Demonstrate Simplicity
Sprint CoachingTM consists of just three phases: prepare, engage, and advance. Together these three parts form a Selling Sprint. Each part of the sprint includes actions that help the sales manager and the seller develop the skills needed to win the sale in today’s market.
The benefit of this simplified approach is that it allows sales managers to adopt the new behavior easily.
The simplicity of Selling Sprints is also what allows sales managers to repeat the behavior. By focusing their efforts on just three parts the sales manager can cycle through a set of sprints several times with a seller. This iterative approach is what makes Sprint CoachingTM work in an environment of ongoing change. The three phases represent the complete set of events needed to develop skills among sellers.
The prepare phase is about knowing your purpose, knowing your perceptions, and knowing your plan. These steps enable sales managers to engage sellers, minimize defensiveness, ask thought-provoking questions, and share perspectives, feedback, and ideas. Preparation is also about being ready to pivot to coaching mode when the moment presents itself.
The engage phase of Sprint CoachingTM is where behavior change starts to occur. This part of the sprint consists of three parts: connect, coach, and commit. The coach and the seller align on the purpose, move through mutual exploration and idea-sharing, then conclude with agreed actions. This approach works because it is built around a collaborative framework.
Advancing is about creating an atmosphere of accountability and progressing the coaching relationship after every conversation. The Advance Model provides a set of best practices for systematically ensuring that you and your sellers continue to learn as you strengthen performance.
2. Demonstrate Flexibility
The value of new behaviors becomes clear when those behaviors can be applied to a variety of settings. Sprint CoachingTM is relevant across markets and industries. When sales managers see this flexibility, they are more likely to embrace the concepts within the methodology.
What makes Sprint CoachingTM flexible to all sellers and scenarios are the behavioral psychology concepts underpinning the methodology. Though sellers might face different challenges, all professionals respond to coaching practices built from a few basic psychology principles:
Social Interdependence Theory
This theory suggests that a sense of “positive interdependence” emerges when the individual understands that goal attainment is a shared endeavor. Research shows that “cooperation, compared to competitive and individualistic efforts, tends to result in greater achievement.” Sprint CoachingTM uses this finding by making the coaching process cooperative.
Consistency and Psychological Safety
Research shows that two key factors drive behavior change: consistency of feedback, and tolerance of errors. Consistency of feedback means offering direction that is ongoing and focused on a fixed set of goals. Tolerance of errors refers to the leadership’s willingness to accept mistakes during the learning process. Sprint CoachingTM incorporates these ideas with coaching practices that focus on development and not directives.
Self-efficacy is one’s belief that one can perform when and where it is needed. For coaches, this idea is important because it is a reminder that much of what determines behavior change comes from within the team member being coached. Sprint CoachingTM puts this powerful idea to work by encouraging the seller to apply critical thinking to their actions and development.
Sprint CoachingTM works with sellers of all backgrounds because it acknowledges that they are people. Consequently, the program focuses on cooperative experiences, trust, respect, and communication. These characteristics resonate with all people
3. Demonstrate Longevity
Behavior change is a front-loaded challenge. The individual must do a lot of work in the early stages before seeing results. This fact might make sales managers hesitant to adopt a new coaching strategy especially after they have seen so many other coaching initiatives come and go.
Helping sales managers change their behavior means showing them the longevity of Sprint CoachingTM. This approach is built to work in an environment of change. Sprint CoachingTM assumes no continuity or consistency in the sales industry. The program not only works with change but uses it as a propelling force. It is the last coaching methodology a sales manager will ever need.
New strategies are often an attempt to respond to the question, “what will change?” Sprint CoachingTM takes a different approach and answers the question, “what will not change?” The seller’s appreciation of a coach who takes a cooperative and iterative approach will never change. Technology changes. Solutions change. The value of a coach who builds trust will not change.
Sprint CoachingTM is built upon a few enduring principles.Effective coaches:
- Help sellers become responsible for their development
- Engage in self-reflection to improve themselves
- Take on the role of a thought partner who asks questions and listens
- Focus on the seller’s incremental growth
- Coach every day by focusing on coachable moments in routine interactions
- Build trust before seeking to build performance
- Model the behavior they seek
Effective coaching is what builds, grows, and inspires success across the team. Helping managers develop a modern coaching style means showing them that Sprint CoachingTM is a simple methodology that can be applied to any sales setting over the long term.
There are two ways to get better: Work harder or change how you work.
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