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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

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Whether you are a small business owner or sales manager, you should take advantage of sales coaching. Once a salesperson understands that sales coaching can help them to make more money and have more fun, it's inevitable that they'll want to introduce their sales manager or sales trainer to the concept, too. Then it's up to these potential coaches to decide if they are willing to seriously commit to sales coaching for their salespeople. That's where the salesperson's commitment comes into play-can the salesperson show the small business owner, manager or trainer that they will do whatever it takes?-because that's the first big step in getting their help.

Sales management consists of everything the small business owner and/or sales manager does to develop and grow an effective sales force, including...

  • Briefing and debriefing 
  • Growing salespeople and making them stronger every week 
  • Being able to motivate salespeople-and keep them motivated 
  • Holding salespeople accountable 
  • Finding, hiring, and keeping top performers

The sales manager carries out these functions in various forums, including sales meetings, sales training, the field, and sales coaching sessions. Coaching sessions differ from the other activities in that the focus of coaching is on combining technique reinforcement with one-on-one motivational interaction.

Coaching can be performed by either the sales manager or a sales trainer, although the sales manager must make the final decision as to the length and frequency of each type of session. My own experience has been that each salesperson should receive an hour per week of coaching, in a one-on-one meeting run by the sales manager or trainer, who becomes in this situation-the coach. Some of the areas that should be covered in the sessions are:

Activity
This includes the quantity and results of dials, walk-ins, contacts, appointments booked, face-to-faces, referrals, and introductions. The coach motivates the salesperson to improve in the necessary areas, as measured against pre-established goals.

Goal Setting
The coach may permit the salesperson to reduce some of the goals if the salesperson is having trouble achieving them, in an effort to build self-confidence. The goals then would be increased over time to steadily grow the salesperson to higher levels of performance.

Debriefing and Briefing
Debriefs are discussions about the meetings and telephone calls the salesperson made with customers and prospects in the week prior to the coaching session. Briefing is when the coach goes on to ask the salesperson what their next steps will be and how they would handle any scheduled follow-up. If necessary, the coach would work with the salesperson to modify those plans.

Salespeople's Self-Esteem
It's important that the salesperson is receiving sales training to work on strategy, technique, and behavior. Take the case of a salesperson that just learned that when he approaches a small company in his industry, he should always call on the Chief Executive. Naturally it takes self-confidence to do this. Therefore, it is key that the coach complement the training by helping build the salesperson's self-esteem. Provided that the salesperson demonstrates commitment, the training and coaching will grow the salesperson to the point where he is performing effortlessly in pressure situations.

Future Coaching Sessions
I recommend that coaching sessions always be planned out at least four weeks in advance. Sometimes it makes sense to have several shorter sessions each week. Take the case of the salesperson that is having difficulty achieving prospecting goals. Daily sessions of fifteen minutes would put light pressure on the person to achieve their daily goals. This would force the salesperson to avoid putting off their prospecting chores until the next day; after all, procrastination is one of the salesperson's worst enemies. Daily sessions would also serve to re-inspire that rookie salesperson who is getting beaten up in the field.

If you are a small business owner or sales manager you're undoubtedly running some sales meetings, but probably not coaching. If you plan to start, congratulations! If not ask yourself this question: If I could find the time and knew how to run quality coaching sessions, would it make a substantial difference in the results I am getting with my sales force?
If your answer is "yes" then what's stopping you? Start coaching!

Contact me at 781-848-0993 or greg@gnatraining.com if I can help you in any way.


Greg Nanigian is CEO of Greg Nanigian and Associates, affiliate Sandler Training.  Over the past 27 years, we've helped thousands of sales professionals and organizations optimize their selling strategies, increase profits and create lasting relationships with their customers.

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