If you want to reach people you have to give them a taste of themselves. Lionel Richie
Whenever I speak with any successful sales manager I hear a consistent underlying message:
The most important thing about their company – that makes it a great place to work and keeps everyone coming back for more – is the people.
So, to make the most of sales coaching, here are 3 people-oriented strategies to keep in mind:
First, coaching is a great opportunity to connect, re-connect, or further develop the relationship you have with your team members. Plan to do all 3.
Second, the hOS (the human Operating System or the hardwired how people think) hasn’t changed in thousands of years.
This is important when you consider that two of coaching’s major goals are; “what’s changed since last time we were together?” and so “how do you change to make/do things better?”
“Change” is a challenge because, in some respects, we’re hardwired to be “creatures of habit.” We like to keep our status quo in place because they give us bits we (our team and our doctors) have simply because they give us some predictable consistency.
It’s almost counter-intuitive to push things forward, to advance things, to look for the next improvement unless we really, really, really feel we want to or have to.
As sales managers, you need to challenge the comfortable. You do this by connecting your sales team member’s values, beliefs, and aspirations with the stretch you see them capable of.
And it’s in that order.
“Anyone who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Third, we are all experiencing some major changes/ trends in our society, especially internet-based social, technological, and financial ones. These trends affect the what we think is important, the what we value, and the what we expect from the people and companies around us.
So if you’re thinking this will be “just another coaching session” think again.
It’s the 2nd aspect that’ll have the greatest impact on achieving the other 2.
Here’s a novel way to connect all 3 issues and make the coaching session a roaring success.
Kevin Kelly (Better Than Free https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k08xsjjlNc ) has figured out 8 valuable qualities for coaching and connecting with people in today’s “network economy.”
- Immediacy. With your help, how quickly can you deliver some results or give your team access to new resources? With the ready availability of services and products people expect “delivery” sooner, not later. Get an action plan (with success milestones) in place this week. Why wait?
- Personalisation. The one-size-fits-all strategy only applies to certain aspects that teams members must follow. Its things like company ethical business practices, industry code-of-conduct, and policies and procedures.
But when it comes to individual team member’s professional development it needs to be a one-size-fits-one strategy.
By all means have a team plan but have an element of how each individual contributes, and have each person’s name on their own copy.
- Interpretation. Help them use what they’re given with on-going support. Help them squeeze all the possible value out of the (eg) territory data they are given. Don’t expect that they will, or can, do it themselves.
- Authenticity. Whenever you’re interacting with sales team members be their sales manager, coach, and leader. Don’t do management, coach or lead. Be there for them. Be a good listener. Be involved. Be real. Do more than just show up.
- Accessibility. Two parts. First, be available when they need you. (Don’t confuse this with being their servant) Second, suggest a system that allows them to simply organise their sales material and experiences so that it can be easily retrieved.
- Embodiment. We now know that the concept of learning styles is a myth. Instead, think about a variety of ways to make their development “come alive.” For instance, don’t just do a role play. Be the customer, or be the customer of the customer AND dress and act the way they would. Or get someone who has experienced this in real-life to talk about their experiences and how it affects their life.
- Patronage. Get your team involved in “giving back” with an opportunity to respond to or reward other people. Things like; encouraging them to vote on “The Best Idea(s) on Tour” or “MVSP” (most valuable sales person) or “MVR” (most valuable resource) or “The People’s Choice” (the team member who has contributed most). People love to be involved.
- Findability. Most companies have a lot of sales and marketing resources available. So much that representatives may have a feeling of being overwhelmed. Help them filter out what isn’t relevant and find the developmental and business gems they want and need to be successful.
The Bottom Line: “Making the most of Coaching” actually depends on your focus AND that needs to be your people.