You hear a lot about sales coaching these days but what exactly does it mean? What are the benefits of sales coaching that everyone seems to be raving about?
In this competitive world, team do what it takes to hit this sales targets and succeed but sometimes it’s a struggle. Or it may even feels like it’s a sales marathon but without a finish line. Once you reach one target, there is another one, and another one and it just keeps going on and on and on. If you work in sales, you know what I’m talking about. You are like a dog a bone. When things are great, it’s uplifting and motivating but when you struggle, when your team is under a lot of pressure and underperforming, what do you do? If you are a sales manager, you’ve probably tried some traditional training, or team activity or incentives or carrot & stick approach but it probably didn’t work. Why? Because these are all external factors that has little or no effect on our self-motivation. John Whitmore, the father of performance coaching, once said – ‘I perform better when I want to than when I have to. I have to for you but I want to for me. Self-motivation is a matter of choice’. So how do you get you or your team to want to for ‘me or them’ to smash those targets and go an extra mile? What is the solution here? If you are wondering about it, keep on reading.
The answer is – sales coaching. So what does sales coaching entail and why is it highly effective?
Sales coaching is the new most effective alternative to sales management. Sales coaching focuses on sales effectiveness. In my opinion, sales performance coaching helps a coachee (you) define and set clear line of sight between sales goals and sales actions that result in desired business outcomes as well as boosting intrinsic motivation – I want to for me feeling I’ve mentioned earlier on. Sales coaching is the best known productivity investment to improve sales executives’ performance. It works, it’s delivering results from first session and also promotes accountability for actions. It’s a win-win.
According to the International Coach Federation, on average a company can expect a return of 7 times the initial investment in coaching. Good news is with sales coaching ROI can be even higher. One thing to be mindful of here – although sales coaching often focuses on immediate sales effectiveness and it delivers great results, it is not magic though – it’s important to remember that change does not happen overnight, it is a long process that requires a lot of hard work, persistence and determination. Success takes effort and development over the long haul.
When it comes to coaching, be it business, performance or sales, there is no ‘one fits all’ approach. From my experience, sales talent is developed in a field mainly through ‘on the job’ skills developments, different experiences, mentoring (if you are lucky to have a mentor) and coaching of course. Unfortunately, most training efforts fail to reach their objectives, in large part because of the absence of any kind of reinforcement or coaching. When managers reach certain level, traditional good old training is not effective anymore and any further professional development and personal growth agenda has to be reached through realising and reflecting on individual challenges and needs. According to some research, if there was no coaching or reinforcement activity including in a traditional training approach, there was a drop-off of 87% of the knowledge acquired. So it is no surprise that sales coaching is becoming new flavour of sales management.
In my opinion, the future of management is coaching.
From my experience in sales (7yr+) and as a sales performance coach, here are 5 keys as to why sales coaching is so effective and successful:
- Goal-focused: Coaching is a goal-focused activity and every session starts with you setting a goal. Goals are internal representations of desired states or outcomes. Goal theory suggests that people will work harder and use more resources when the goal is harder to achieve and the harder the goal the higher the level of performance. Goal setting has been shown to improve performance in 90% of the relevant studies. Studies have also found that developing goals helps a person to enhance motivation and remain focused on tasks or particular issues that need addressing both personal and/or work-related. The development of goals is an important aspect of overall coaching, time and life self-management. You can read more about performance goals here or SMART goal setting framework here.
- Action-oriented: Coaching is aimed at actions. You don’t dwell on your mistakes, you learn from it and move on. If you talk about the problem, you become an expert of that problem but it doesn’t help you solve the challenge. After you set a goal, you develop an action plan that you execute. That’s why coaching is so effective even after the first session. You come out of it with an action plan ready and raring to go.
- Solution-focused: Coaching is a solution focused process that has 3 key characteristics:
- It is outcome-oriented and competence based. E.g. ‘What are you going to do about it?’.
- Fits well with the future-focused, goal-oriented coaching spirit of ‘here and now’.
- Focuses on your skills, strengths, knowledge, resources, personal qualities and experience. It’s a skills development process.
- Motivation: Self-motivation is intrinsic, which mean it is within you. Self-motivation is the ability to energise, direct and sustain your goal-related behaviour whether or not you have the support and encouragement of others. Lasting and meaningful change can only occur when you are intrinsically motivated. That is proven fact. Motivation to change is being ready, willing and able. Setting clear, defined goals and devising a plan is a motivating process. An experienced coach would also aim to tap into your inner resources and boost your self-efficacy, your belief in your abilities. It’s win-win, isn’t it?
- Promoted executive presence or gravitas: In a nutshell, the word gravitas is an expressive term for dignity and strength of character, however in a modern-day the meaning of gravitas has been extended significantly and can imply the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, network, influence others and develop meaningful, lasting relationships be it socially or professionally. People with gravitas manage and lead teams better, present and connect better which translates to winning more business, being successful in all areas of life. Three pillars or 3 C’s of executive presence are – Courage (how we are seen in action), Communication (how we are seen communicating) and Composure (our appearance). We live in a very competitive world and I strongly believe that people who know how to tap into this quality and develop their gravitas, can achieve higher levels of life satisfaction and self-actualisation.
As you can see, the benefits of sales coaching are outstanding and this is real game changer. Choose your coach wisely, strive for excellence and go get it!
If you have any questions or you would like to discuss sales coaching or training with me, please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to help.
Sales Performance Coach
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