When we observe sports coaches at work, we see that a significant amount of their time is spent on the practice field. They run repetitive practice drills, bark out orders, correct mistakes and have their teams do it again and again and again. They are on the alert to recognize and appreciate improvement and are direct when mistakes need to be corrected. Of course they spend time planning, strategizing, watching recorded action and looking at numbers, but their results depend on how their players play and they take training and improvement very seriously.
Managers that want to become better coaches can learn from this. Let’s be very clear on what the primary role of a coach is: TO IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TEAM SO THEY CAN WIN.
Managers often get trapped into thinking their role is to evaluate, analyze, write reports, make recommendations and handle problems as they come up. That is part of the job, but that is not what coaching is all about, not even close. Here are some very practical things the best sales and customer service coaches should do:
- They make sure that each team member can verbalize, from memory EXACTLY what the coach wants more of and less of in terms of good and bad habits to form and break.
- They know how to conduct simulation selling drills that allow them to hear their team members verbalizing the key sales information and then they coach them on how to improve and insist on more repetition until they hear it done right.
- A great coach can give effective demonstrations of all steps of the sales process or, can tap other team members to give those demonstrations. Teams learn more quickly when they see and hear a good demonstration live.
- Good coaches are on the lookout for team members that are improving. They notice it and give them appreciation and recognition for progress made.
- The best coaches plan time into their meetings to conduct training and refresher drills.
- Great coaches keep up relationships with customers and call them from time to time to get their evaluation of their sales team. This is a very effective way to get honest feedback from the field.
- Always end coaching sessions with questions like “what did you learn today and how will you apply it on your next customer interaction?”
- Look at their schedule and plan training and skill development time into it the same way a sports coach would
- Begin each meeting by asking each participant to, in 30-seconds, share a situation where they created something positive and special for a customer.
- End team meetings with a recap of action steps and start meetings with a review of the action steps from the last meeting with reports on progress made.
These are basic steps that will help turn a manager into an effective coach. R3 is the sales manager’s coach. We have the expertise, practice drills and coaching experience to transform sales managers into coaches that can create a rigorous coaching culture that continuously improves the performance of their sales teams.
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