One of my favorite ways to learn about a particular company and role is to ride around with a sales person, meet customers, and truly see the selling process in motion. During the hours of listening and observing, I always like to ask about what kind of feedback the sales person is getting. From my vantage point, I see two types – one quantitatively oriented, the other qualitatively oriented.
Last month Tennessee lost the winningest high school football coach in state history. For 5 decades, he built programs at 4 different high schools in the Memphis area, and his passing rocked the community – I should know… I grew up there, I cheered on the sidelines for his teams, and like most of us in the South, I lived for those winning Friday Night Lights.
The role of a sales leader/coach, regardless of industry, is not an easy one. The sales leader/coach is living day in and day out with the skills and abilities of the team they are putting on the field. Depending upon a ton of variables, the experience a sales rep gets from coaching may be wildly different from coach to coach.
Across the years we have worked with many different clients in different industries, trying to solve a variety of their sales related challenges. Many of our clients state that they want to “improve sales effectiveness.” However, we have observed there are many variations to perceptions about what that means; improving a sales process, gaining traction on utilization of sales tools, sharpening-up recruiting, enhancing selling skills through coaching and development - You can take your pick.
I was in a VP of Sales’ office and we were talking about his team’s performance and the overall market. We both had opinions around where the market was going and if the team could adapt. We started to speculate a bit about where things would go. He then said, “Let’s look at the sales report.”
There’s a great article in the New York Times today where the author, Bryan Burkhart, reflects on his first job out of college and pulls together a “not-to-do” list for recent college graduates. It demonstrates the maturity and ability to reflect that only experience and middle age can bring. One of my favorite parts is where he recounts the comparative success of one of his peers who, “was driven to acquire customers for Trilogy, understanding that revenue was the lifeblood of a fast-growing start-up. At the time, I could not have been less impressed with that role”.
I was conducting some sales training this past week and I said something at the end of the two-day session that gave me pause. It sounded like it came from a Fortune Cookie or maybe some sort of self-help bumper sticker.
I recently worked with a client to conduct a foundational presentation skills workshop and when I polled the group about some of their favorite questions to ask in a discovery meeting with a prospect, one person offered up the classic, “what keeps you up at night?” This was a relatively junior group, so I wasn’t too surprised, but it was useful to revisit some of the basic keys to an effective discovery meeting:
We talk a lot about sales coaching, but what we often observe is that managers focus on teaching the individuals who are either new and learning or need remedial help because they are struggling. Other instruction comes in the form of mass communication to the team via email or team meetings. When the team applies this instruction differently, it often leaves the manager asking “Why aren’t they all doing it the way I asked? They all heard the same message, didn’t they?”