The Factor That Will Make or Break Your Sales Initiative - and How To Get It Right
This blog is part of our Mission Critical Success Series, where we dive into the strategies leaders are using to execute on mission critical sales objectives during times of economic change. Each week, we will cover a different essential area of sales effectiveness. Check our blog next week for the newest installment, or subscribe for updates straight to your inbox.
Given recent economic headwinds, many sales leaders are launching initiatives to pivot their strategy or reinforce key practices that will enable their team to be effective in a challenging market. We cover some of the top priorities leaders are acting on to keep up with changing buyer needs in this webinar conversation. But how can you make sure that the initiative you’re investing in really sticks and becomes a part of the day-to-day practice of sellers?
The truth is that no sales initiative matters if your front-line managers are not able to coach effectively. As a sales leader, coaching has the ability to make or break your sales initiative. Force Management Managing Director, Brian Walsh, says, “Coaching is the linchpin that takes the content you create from a messaging and methodology perspective and actually makes it part of the company's DNA." We often talk about executing sales fundamentals in an elite way, and great mentorship is at the heart of that. As a sales leader, there are several actions you can take to support managers in executing new company strategy effectively and driving sales during economic change.
Retain + Elevate Your Existing Team
Much of the talent conversation in sales revolves around “A Players.” As leaders it’s crucial to remember that A players aren’t always hired – often, they’re coached. Instead of trying to bring in A players constantly, focus on cultivating coaching ability amongst managers so that your B players can become A players.
Now is the time to create a cadence around active listening and continuous elevation of value in your customer relationships. Managers are your first line of enforcement for this behavior, so it’s vital that they’re fluent in customer-focused sales tactics and your updated message of value. If you've had to cut or freeze hiring during the economic downturn, creating this rhythm now will ensure you have a framework for minimizing time-to-productivity when hiring resumes.
Talent is your most expensive and valuable resource, and when faced with economic change it can become especially important to maximize every available resource. Great coaching can also be the key to retaining great talent and empowering them as future managers.
Clearly Define What Success Looks Like
As leaders, we often live in the big picture. Be careful of setting expectations and goals without providing coaches the roadmap to get there.
Be intentional about providing coaches with key indicators of success for your new initiative, so they know what behaviors to reinforce and how to redirect. Identify what a great deal looks like for your organization according to customers’ needs in the current market. How have customer needs changed? What are early indicators that a deal is worth spending time and resources exploring? Forward-thinking leaders provide their sales team with a framework to draw out this information early in the sales cycle.
Elite organizations integrate coaching into the sales business process. Ensure that managers have a defined cadence for assessing opportunities with their sellers with adequate time to redirect and maintain sales targets. These resources may be helpful to share with managers to maximize productivity.
Provide Coaches With the Right Skills
If managers are football coaches, a sales leader is the equivalent of a head coach. Just as sellers need consistent coaching and reinforcement on sales skills, front-line managers need consistent coaching on leadership and mentorship in order to coach effectively. Sales leaders can assume this role by creating a culture of learning and modeling great coaching behaviors daily. Force Management Managing Director, Brian Walsh, underlines this point in a recent conversation:
Help managers adopt a mindset of mentorship, not inspection. Too often, status or forecast meetings can be ineffective because they are treated as enforcement rather than coaching sessions. By enabling and supporting key behaviors that drive success, your managers also help to create a culture of collaboration and learning – turning B players into A players. Every meeting between manager and seller should be an opportunity to learn and increase confidence.
As elite sellers assume the role of manager or coach, remember that great sellers can't always coach well, and sales skills don't always translate to management success. Leaders can build great coaches through consistent support for front-line managers in these four areas that contribute to sales effectiveness.
No matter how powerful or well-received your sales initiative is, coaching is the factor that will make or break its success. Elite sales leaders give their strategy staying power by clearly communicating and demonstrating the culture, goals and skills of great coaching.
Supercharge Your Sales Initiative with Great Coaching
Your sales initiative is an investment. Maximize your return by cultivating great coaches. Enable your team to confidently meet revenue targets by providing them the tools and skills needed to consistently close great deals. Learn more about how to help your team execute sales fundamentals in an elite way.