Coaching The Sales Process
I’m getting all kinds of messages and emails. I must be wearing people down with my incessant pleas for organizations to update their sales processes–to make them really work, to assure they reflect current realities, priorities, markets, and competition.
A number of sales managers have contacted me asking for further guidance. Last week, I got an email, saying, “Dave, I buy what you are saying. I want to make certain my team is executing the sales process as effectively as possible. What should I be doing to make certain they are doing this? How do I fit this coaching into my already overloaded schedule?”
It’s a great question, here are some quick thoughts. They are focused on coaching the sales process, not on the many other areas managers might also coach and develop their sales people on. Here’s what I’ve found works:
- Integrate coaching into your daily activities and business management processes. Too many managers think of “The Coaching Session.” Coaching should be a natural part of what you do every day.
- One aspect of coaching the sales process is assessing the opportunity strategy. As sales managers, we want to know what’s going on with key deals or opportunities. Every manager does deal reviews. Well the sales process is the foundation for your deal/opportunity strategy. Use the sales process as your “checklist” to look at the deal. By doing this, you kill several birds with one stone:
- You work with the sales person in making sure she has the strongest strategy in place and is developing actions based on the most appropriate next steps. You gain some understanding of where the deal is and it’s likelihood of closing.
- You reinforce the selling process and how the sales person should use the sales process to build winning strategies. By constantly doing this and probing, using the sales process, the sales person will start anticipating your questions and be prepared to respond–using the sales process.
- You probably don’t have the time to do detailed reviews of every opportunity. In reality, managers must manage the process, not the transactions. In your deal review, if the sales person is executing the selling process well, executing a winning strategy for those opportunities you review; you can be reasonably confident they are doing the same on all their other opportunities. If they aren’t using the sales process, then you will be forced to review every deal to have the same confidence.
- Another aspect of coaching the sales process is the pipeline or funnel. This is simply the collection of all the deals a person is working on (or the team), wherever they are in the sales process. I won’t go further with this–the topic is worth a bunch of posts in the coming weeks—stay tuned!
- Consistency counts, use the sales process for every deal review and pipeline review. Initially people may not be prepared, but if they see you using the process every time, they will be prepared for each review. A funny thing happens, if they start using it to prepare for reviews, they suddenly start internalizing it and use it on a daily basis in developing and executing their sales strategies.
“Great advice Dave, but you still have provided me a whole lot of help on how to actually do this, I need specifics!” At least I hope a lot of you are asking this question.
It’s useful to really get into the weeds, a blog post is not sufficient to show managers how to leverage the sales process in their daily coaching. We’ve developed a Free Tool for managers to use: Sales Manager’s Guide To Coaching Opportunities. I do 100’s of these reviews every year. I’ve captured what I do to prepare for, conduct, and follow up these reviews. It’s a starting point that you can adapt to fit your style and business. Click on the link: Sales Manager’s Guide To Coaching Opportunities, and I’ll send you a copy.
Remember, this is most effective if you have a strong selling process in place. If you missed it, get our free Sales Process Self Assessment, so you can check your sales process to see how strong and current it is.
Try using the guide for the next 30 days, you’ll be amazed at how much it improves your understanding of the deals your team is working on, and how much it improves their ability to execute the sales process, winning more deals!