Top-Shelf Tip No. 30:

"Your life can only get better when you do. Do something every day to improve your key skill areas."

Brian Tracy

Implement These Five Sales Coaching Tips

Effective sales coaching helps sales reps refine and build their skills, knowledge and strategies to improve sales results. Sales coaching isn't the same as sales training, which refers to an event or series of events that occur as a foundational education. Sales coaching, on the other hand, involves an ongoing relationship between sales reps and managers with a goal of continual improvement.

Kevin F. Davis, an author with more than 30 years of sales experience, breaks down the sales coaching process into five easy-to-implement steps. We share Davis' tips in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today .

1. Quickly assess your current situation. When Davis meets with sales leaders, he asks them to perform a quick exercise in which they grade each of their reps on two factors: skill and attitude. After discussing the findings, Davis points out that the results aren't a report card on sales reps but rather a report card on the sales manager's sales coaching. Try it with your team. You just might learn that your sales coaching has room for improvement.

2. Don't be a player. Do you tend to jump in and take over for your sales reps during customer meetings or calls? Sales managers often have a tendency to steer the conversation, which sends a message to sales reps that you don't have much confidence in their abilities. It also sends a message to the customer that you're the person he or she should call, which cuts back on the time you have for sales coaching. Davis encourages sales leaders to remember the Chinese proverb: "He who chases two rabbits at the same time never catches a rabbit." In other words, you can't sell and manage salespeople at the same time. Don't take over customer meetings. Instead, observe your salespeople and evaluate as they are selling. Effective sales coaching begins with excellent observation.

3. Carve out time to coach. Most sales managers possess the ability to effectively teach and coach their sales reps. However, most sales managers don't tap into their potential. They get distracted by daily tasks and responsibilities. Davis urges sales leaders to reserve time each day for sales coaching. Distractions from the day don't impact the long-term improvement of your team.

4. Coach early in the cycle. Many sales leaders only pay attention to deals that are in the latter stages of a sales cycle. However, if a sales rep isn't effectively developing customer needs, you can't do anything at the end to change things. Any advice you give is too late in the sales cycle and impacts the probability of the close. Instead, it's better to pay attention to what happens between prospects and sales reps in the first one or two meetings.

5. Make appointments for coaching. Don't wait for your salespeople to come to you and ask for coaching. You must take it on yourself to approach them with coaching. Consider regularly scheduling one-on-one meetings with each of your sales reps for personalized guidance.

If regular sales coaching isn't part of your normal agenda, put these five tips into play and watch your team grow.

Source: Kevin F. Davis has more than 30 years of experience in sales. He has worked his way up from sales rep to sales manager to general manager and is the author of The Sales Manager's Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

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