In the modern world, coaching is the single best way for a leader to improve a sales team's performance, and doing so is one of the best ways to gain a competitive advantage. However, today's customers have higher expectations than past generations, meaning that while coaching is more important than ever, it is also more difficult.
Modern challenges require modern solutions and as traditional sales coaching methods are becoming less effective, fresh ideas are necessary. Here, we take a look at some new ideas for coaching a sales team.
Traditional vs. Modern Coaching
Research carried out in the United Kingdom by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 94 percent of all leaders believe they are coaching staff members during one-on-one meetings. Yet, when employees are asked, only 34 percent say that they are receiving coaching in these same meetings.
This disconnect can be partially explained by a reliance on traditional coaching methods, where a leader takes on the role of expert, points out issues or suggests areas for improvement, and then expects an employee to act on it.
For employees, this directive approach to sales training can feel more like following instructions than actual coaching. It can also create a culture where employees wait to be told what to do all the time, rather than taking the initiative themselves. A more modern approach focuses instead on collaborative discovery.
Implementing New Coaching Ideas
Through this collaborative approach, a leader attempts to make an employee more acutely aware of their own performance - the plus points and shortcomings - allowing them to discover areas for improvement themselves. Essentially, it is about encouraging employees to want to learn, as opposed to telling them to learn.
So how can this modern approach to coaching be implemented?
- Collect Data - Through the collection and analysis of performance data, it becomes significantly easier to facilitate discussion on areas for improvement, with employees seeing where they are falling short.
- Establish Goals - During meetings, leaders and sales team members can set out some shared goals or objectives, which can then become the focus of future coaching efforts.
- Listen to Staff - A common problem with coaching is that coaches dictate too much. By asking questions, leaders can steer the conversation where it needs to go, while spending more time listening to employees.
- Define Expectations - If the coaching process is to be a truly collaborative effort, it requires both parties to accept a level of responsibility. What should an employee do to prepare for a coaching session? What should a leader do? Expectations should be agreed, set out clearly and then met.
- Coach! - Coaching cannot possibly succeed if it doesn't take place. Leaders must work out how much time they have to invest in coaching and make sure they actually press ahead with it, as planned. No excuses.
By adopting a more modern approach to coaching, a sales leader can improve the performance of their team and gain that all-important competitive edge, without experiencing a decrease in staff initiative.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director for MHI Global (formerly AchieveGlobal), a global sales training and customer experience company. It specialises in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training.