As a sales manager, you're charged with training, motivating and counseling sales professionals on a daily basis. Your sales team members look to you for professional development, and expect you to prepare them for achieving success by providing the necessary resources, guidance and knowledge.
But even if you have had your own successful sales career, you may still find it difficult to coach others and mentor effectively. The impact of poor coaching can gnaw away at a company's profits over time, as poor performers never gain footing, while top sellers feel neglected and leave the company for better work environments.
Unfortunately, coaching mistakes are all too common among even the most veteran sales leaders. Managers may try a tough approach in dealing with sales reps, thinking that fear over job security or compensation is all the motivation that is needed. Or, managers may genuinely attempt to coach but instead, find themselves taking over the sales process for a particular account themselves, ruining the sales rep's credibility with the client and providing no skill development in the process. Other managers may attempt to coach by focusing too much on what a sales rep did wrong without building skills and fostering new strategies.
There are numerous ways to fall short, but establishing a roadmap for providing effective, valuable feedback can help keep you on track in successfully coaching your sales team.
Select the Right Sales Coaching Tools
Effective sales coaching tools drive your ability to keep your sales reps highly engaged and feeding on their own success. A SMART feedback model is one way you can provide successful sales coaching and reinforce current strategies. Make sure your feedback is:
A common sales coaching error is to deliver feedback that’s too vague to be of any value. Feedback should identify expectations and outcomes that are precise and well-defined. Choose your words carefully to ensure that you are understood. Avoid generalities and long-winded anecdotes.
Identify Measurable Goals
Not only should feedback be specific, but the goals and objectives should be measurable. Providing sales reps with key benchmarks when defining specific expectations clarifies how achievements will be measured. Be straightforward in explaining how you will judge achievement against expectation.
Communicate Achievable Results
Setting unachievable goals wastes the goal-setting process. Identify any obstacles that could get in the way of an individual meeting expectations that you have communicated. Not only should expected results be achievable, but you should be prepared to offer sufficient resources necessary for sales reps to meet expectations.
Set Realistic Expectations
When communicating expectations, sales reps need to feel that all objectives are realistic and within their capability or motivation will suffer. Expectations should tie in well with an individual's typical work style.
Keep it Timely
Timeliness plays a key role in helping to motivate and keep sales professionals on track. Just like the expectation itself, deadlines need to be feasible and clearly stated. If there will be milestones to reach or progress checks along the way, these should also be spelled out.