Sales Coaching Tips & Techniques
By and large, sales coaching is just like any other type of performance coaching. Whether you’re coaching a baseball pitcher, high-powered CEO, or an individual looking to improve his/her life, it’s all basically the same thing. A great definition for performance coaching comes from Tim Gallwey, author of several best-selling books about sports performance coaching. Interestingly, while Tim Gallwey began his coaching career in the field of sports, he went on later to coach many of our country’s top business leaders. That’s because the art of coaching extends across multiple disciplines and endeavors.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Tim Gallwey
While some business leaders may still be on the fence about investing time and money into coaching, most are coming around because the data supports it. Here at VSA, coaching is an integral part of our operation, without which we would not be able to get the results our clients expect from us. When a client invests in our company to run their prospecting campaign, it is vital that our client associates perform at their best and highest potential. After all, they are the ones on the front lines of any given campaign. Investing in them gets better results for our clients, which ultimately means more business for us.
The following are some tips we’ve learned through our own research and first-hand experience with sales coaching:
1. Always affirm and give positive feedback. Most people do not perform well when they feel bad about themselves. Even the most constructive criticism can be taken the wrong way if it’s not preceded by an affirmation of the strengths of the individual being coached.
2. Let the coachee assess their own performance. At VSA, much of our coaching revolves around the recorded calls of our client associates. After we have played a recorded call for one of our associates, we find it helpful to ask them what they thought of it before delving into our own assessment. This allows the constructive criticism to come from their own heads, instead of our mouths, making it not only much easier to swallow, but ultimately much more effective in its results. The ability to self-evaluate is key to optimal growth.
3. Ask open questions. Open questions get people thinking. Closed questions don’t. Some examples of open questions that we use are: “What did you think about that call? Is there anything you’ think you could improve? How could you improve it do you think? What parts of the call were the strongest? Could they be stronger?”
4. Focus on the process, not the results. Putting the focus on the end result – such as the number of appointments booked – is usually both counter-productive and anxiety-producing. At VSA, for instance, the success of any given phone call has many variables at play beyond the performance level of the client associate making the call. It would be unfair to measure their progress from that standpoint. Rather, we focus on the individual’s skills and techniques.
5. Tailor your coaching style to the individual. While there are certain fundamental techniques to performance coaching that are constant, the style of coaching you use should in fact vary from person to person. Everyone is unique. What works with one person may not work with another. A good coach will key into those differences and adjust accordingly.