4 Ways to Identify Areas for Coaching in Each of Your Sales Reps
Your sales reps are not a single, homogeneous group. They have different strengths and weaknesses that impact their performance. The areas of improvement that turn one person from a poor sales performer into one of your best may not work when you apply it to other team members. Use these four ways to identify the areas for coaching that work best for each person, rather than trying to optimize performance with a one-size-fits-all approach.
1. Know What Your Customer Wants in a Rep
Start with your customer. Do you know what they’re looking for in a sales rep? One of the biggest failings that some sales people have is that they treat the entire interaction with a customer as transactional. They fail to understand that your target audience does a lot of research before they get to the point that they want to talk to your organization directly. Because of this viewpoint, these sales reps miss out on relationship building opportunities.
The exact preferences of buyers vary between markets, but they’re generally looking for someone to advise them rather than hard sell them. They did their homework and know what their options are, but they still have a few objections. These customers want an honest and expert voice that helps them achieve their goals. They get particularly excited when the sales rep is passionate about your company’s products and services. They turn what could be a dull pitch into an engaging experience.
Survey your customers and find out what they like and didn’t like about the sales process. In many cases, you’ll find that the positive or negative experiences they had with your salespeople had more weight than any other part of the process. Customize your list of customer expectations and find the sales reps who don’t meet these requirements so you can coach them.
2. Understand How Your Sales Process Leads to Success
If you don’t have a documented sales process, you’ll need to put that together as your first step. Look at each stage and determine what elements contribute to a deal moving forward and closing successfully. When the sales reps work within this framework, they do have to take steps outside to accommodate unexpected situations or changing customer needs. However, if you find some team members who go completely off-track, you can coach them on the importance of following the process and explain the benefits of each part.
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3. Build a Coaching Model that Tracks Activities and Outcomes
Sales coaching is more than giving constructive criticism and guidance. You also want to monitor the sales team activities and the associated outcomes proactively. This insight lets you see who responds well to coaching, the people who backslide or ignore your advice and new ways to optimize performance.
Your coaching model changes over time as you discover new ways to make sales and incorporate different technology into the process effectively. The more data you gather, the better suited you are to help everyone out in a manner that boosts individual and overall performance.
4. Find Out Where They Are Wasting Time in Their Day
Unoptimized workflows and non-work distractions are two things that eat into productive time throughout the day. Sales reps may end up only doing an hour or two of work that actually relates to closing deals when there are problems in this area. Start with the business processes that your sales team uses daily.
Do they run into problems logging into essential systems or getting access to assets needed for off-site pitches? Are they dependent on another department getting them leads, digital assets or content necessary to move the deal forward? Is it difficult to use the customer relationship management tool? Does the workflow include manual tasks that are repetitive or time-consuming?
These elements are outside of the sales team’s control, and they’re something you can address as the sales manager. Ideally, you put together a strategy that eliminates common inefficiencies in the processes and automates as much as possible. You want your people talking to decision-makers, not doing admin. When you eliminate these inefficiencies, you put your team in a better position to exceed quota and meet their personal goals.
Non-work distractions can be a significant time sink. Many businesses have Bring Your Own Device policies that can make it difficult to police personal Internet use. You have an easier time if they’re checking social media on company computers, but addressing the problem is tricky. People can’t focus all of their attention on work for eight hours straight, so the occasional break isn’t a problem as long as they’re getting results. Some people may have their performance suffer due to this, however, and you should coach these sales reps into managing their time better.
Coachable sales reps can grow into your best sales performers of all time, but you need to know how to help each person on an individual level. Use these four areas to put together a personalized plan that addresses weak spots in the team member while emphasizing what they’re doing right.