Infield Sales Coaching – The Way of the Future for Sales Managers

Infield sales coaching is the term used to describe when a sales manager coaches a sales person in their sales territory. This can be a geographical or market segmented sales territory. Sales coaching is an ongoing process and not a single event. The process is designed to achieve a purpose and that is to assist every salesperson in the salesforce to reach their full potential. By providing challenges, encouragement and guiding them in continued professional growth, sales performance can be improved in a sustainable manner.Attributes of great sales coaches Sales coaches work with their salespeople in the area of strategy, targets, expected outcomes and potential sales call obstacles. Often the missing link is how these are to be achieved. Sales coaches also ask for feedback to ensure their salespeople understand. If the salesperson does not understand it’s up to the sales coach to show them.Great sales coaches use the following tools:Standardised formal sales process to create common understanding
Active listening and questioning skills so they can replicate a sales situation
The ability to shut up and let the salesperson lead the sales call even if they are failing
The ability to role-play the salesperson’s part of the sales call
The ability to uncover and question everything they hear
The ability to remain in the moment and not become emotionally involved
They don’t need to seek approval so they say, ask or do whatever is necessary to get the salesperson to the next competency level
Patience so they can take small steps to clarify a situation
Their hands on experience
Their wisdom based on years of experience
Their sense of humour by keeping it light
The respect of their salespeople
The trust of their salespeople
The relationship they have with their salespeopleAdapted from Dave Kurlan ‘s Understanding the SalesforceWhat do you need to focus on when coaching your salespeople?Focus on three areas:Sales strategy This relates to the customer and potential customers, selecting the right products or services and pricingFactsThese include ratios and percentages such as the sales call to order ratio and sales margins. When this information is linked to the sales process facts can provide an indicator of future activity and sales resultsSales behaviourNotice what your salesperson does before, during and after the sales call. Do they understand what they are doing, have they followed the sales process, have they applied skills correctly and can they self correct? If not, what competency gaps are there? What do you need to show and demonstrate?Sales coaching stylesEvery sales manager has a sales coaching style. Do you know what yours is? Do you know why you are a compatible sales coach with some of your salespeople and find it difficult with others?Your salespeople want to know how you can help them become successful. By developing your coaching style and competence as a sales coach your salespeople will want to learn and work with you. Your job will also become more enjoyable. You will find they will want to follow your example and grow professionally.How to allocate your time to maximise resultsWithin a salesforce there are 3 categories of salespeople that determine where you should spend most of your time in order to maximise sales performance:1. The concern categoryThese are the consistently low sales performers. Unfortunately most sales managers spend a great deal of their time working with these salespeople in an attempt to improve sales. These salespeople tend to rely heavily on the support of their sales manager so time is consumed with additional coaching sessions and often providing answers to problems.Action -If you have this category of salesperson then you will need to cut back on the amount of time you give them. Start by asking them what they think the answer is to a problem rather than you providing it. Reduce your infield sales coaching time and replace it with a phone call. Set a realistic sales target and time frame. If the sales target is not achieved you will need to take action. The salesperson may be better suited to a different role in the company?2. The top performer categoryIt is not uncommon for these salespeople to feel neglected because they receive minor or no sales coaching from their sales managers. This can affect their attitude and result in their being difficult to manage. They usually outsell the combined efforts of the average players in their salesforce so sales managers think they don’t need further development. Some sales managers who are not very competent in selling avoid their top performers for fear of being shown upAction -Seek the top performers’ input as to the number of sessions and the objectives. They usually only need minor skills refinement which then further enhances their sales performance and motivation. If they have qualified for Level 6 – The Professional status they will more than likely want to develop sales coaching skills and pass on their expertise to other salespeople.Introduce them to sales coaching over a period of time by allowing them to take on the additional responsibility as well as continue to manage their sales territory. This will give you the time to evaluate their performance as well as the performance of the salespeople they coach. The top performer will also have the opportunity to see if sales coaching is a career they would like to pursue full-time.3. The average categoryThe majority of salespeople are in the average to above average range in terms of their sales competence and sales results. This category is ideal for the top performer to begin developing their infield sales coaching skills. There is usually at least one salesperson in this category who has the potential to become a top performer.Action -Schedule regular sales coaching sessions for this large category and identify the salespeople who have achieved Level 4 or 5 Sales Competency. Assess their talents and strengths and outline a fast track sales development plan because they will provide you with the greatest single increase in sales. It will also motivate the more junior salespeople to work harder and achieve a higher level of sales competence.To consistently improve sales performance is no easy task. By coaching and leading by example in their world is your greatest opportunity to really get to know them. This in turn will help you to increase your salespeople’s sales competence, motivation and sales results.If you want more information about this subject or have any sales performance issue you would like to discuss please contact Kurt Newman direct on 0412 252 236. Alternatively email [email protected]