A new approach to coaching must be adopted which addresses the various dimensions of sales performance, and develops individuals with the right mind-set who can deliver the growth agenda. Many Sales Managers already have the core skills to be good coaches – questioning, listening & empathy are core to pretty much every way of selling and coaching that we’ve ever seen. So why is it then, that many sales managers find it hard to apply these skills when coaching but not with customers. Almost certainly this is rooted in a lack of understanding around the role they need to play as coaches but, more importantly, the confidence to coach and the application of coaching techniques to develop the skills of the team in selling, negotiating, analysing the drivers of performance, problem solving, and business planning to name but a few.
To illustrate this point let’s look at a typical coaching scenario required to drive the growth agenda (Goal), understanding sales performance. In this situation, the coaching conversation cannot be based on observation and behavioural coaching as selling skills would be but instead on understanding the individual’s critical thinking process. Preparation before the coaching conversation is critical and the main focus for the Sales Manager must be to build an understanding of the situation and identify the possible drivers of performance (Current Reality).
Crucially, they must not jump to solutions – that is the role of the coaching conversation, where the coach uses questioning techniques to understand how the employee sees what is happening and the reasons why. Having established the situation and drivers of performance it is then imperative to identify the Options available to help turn performance around before committing to what will actually be done (Way forward).