One of the most misunderstood and misapplied areas of sales practice is around sales coaching. In a recent conversation with a new client who had been struggling with this for some time, and wasted considerable money ‘training’ people in coaching, they asked if we could put together some material to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes again. They’ve given us permission to share an overview of some of the resulting work.
The prevailing culture has a huge impact on either enabling or inhibiting the development of coaching practice, because good coaching is a non hierarchical, colligate process, not something management ‘does’ to subordinates. Blame cultures are toxic to coaching. A good test for organisational coaching suggestibility is how sales best practice is viewed. Are the most successful salespeople involved in a learning process of what makes them good at what they do? More often they are left ‘to get on with selling’ while the ‘less good’ are sorted out with some ‘coaching’.
The next most significant factor is the role of sales managers – what is the source of their credibility? If it comes mainly from being previously successful as salespeople, or simply from their more senior position, they will struggle to coach. Also we found a direct correlation between the amount of time managers spent in the field with the likelihood of them being good coach material. Desk-bound managers who ran their teams from spreadsheets and through email had less to offer so consequently achieved little learning transfer.
Finally it was the coaching process itself. There are many coaching models, the simplest and most powerful is:
Each of these phases has their own success criteria to work in an optimised way. The faster you can make these learning loops, and the more effective your learning distribution system,the faster you improve performance, both individually and organisationally.
You can help both to create a culture conducive to coaching and embed coaching capabilities into your sales organisation.