So you spend all this time on-boarding and training new sales people, and then what happens? Do you just leave them to their own devices? Or do you continue to coach them to ensure best sales practices stick?
Early in my sales career, we did not have any sales training to speak of. You went out with your sales manager – that was training. My first sales manager was old-school sales from the days of the dinosaurs. He would say, “Watch me and do as I do.” I was truly appalled by what he considered to be best sales practices.
For example: He would walk into someone’s office and if he saw a picture of a family fishing, he would say he loved to fish. Or if he saw someone with a golf trophy, he would say he loved golf – even though he knew nothing about either. He did not care. He thought he was building rapport. He also taught me how to read upside down so I could read what was on peoples’ desks. Ugh. Old school.
But, later in my career, I was fortunate enough to get formal sales training. And it ultimately confirmed that many of the things my sales manager had taught me to do were not best sales practices – by anyone’s definition.
Those getting sales training today learn the right way to build rapport with clients. It’s not about sales tricks and slick ways to get to know your customer, or “forcing” them to buy from you. It’s about figuring out how to best align your products and services to the priority business outcomes they are trying to achieve, in a time frame that suits them and with minimal to little risk.
So, after spending lots of money and time to on-board new sales reps, are you also spending an adequate amount of time coaching to ensure the best sales practices stick?
Think about your coaching style. Are you coaching on a regular basis with each rep? Are you coaching on an ad-hoc basis, in the moment? If so, are you telling the rep what to do, or are you providing the guidance they need to act on their own? Are you coaching your sales team to share best sales practices with each other? Are you coaching at all? And, what are you coaching?
Most of us know that if you just tell reps what they should do, you – not they – will eventually become the bottleneck. Are you doing this just to feel important in your own mind? The best coaches know that in order for the right change to occur, you need to let each person come to their own conclusions. By asking them open-ended coaching questions, you’ll encourage critical thinking and help them change their behaviors for maximum gain.
You’ll know you’re coaching best sales practices successfully when your newly on-boarded sales reps begin to mimic the actions of your top performers, help their customers achieve goals, and meet or exceed their quotas.