Developing Salespeople with Effective Coaching

Developing salespeople doesn’t happen automatically. Many sales manager never invest the time and attention to do so and end up paying the price in turnover and poor sales. Developing salespeople requires you to understand and apply a simple yet powerful coaching process.  This process involves three steps. They are:developing salespeople

1.    Recognize coachable moments. Coachable mo­ments are specific opportunities where coaching is most likely to make an impact. Coachable mo­ments fall into three ar­eas:

  • When sales­people perform well;
  • When sales­people fail to per­form; and
  • When salespeople seek help.

2.    Engage. This means taking the coach­-able mo­ments and turning them into performance discus­sions. These performance discus­sions should be brief, very fo­cused, and viewed as helpful by salespeople. These are great  opportunities for developing salespeople.

3.    Mobilize. To effect change, man­agers must con­vert the perfor­mance discussions into actions. These actions can be comprehen­sive (e.g., devel­op­ing a key ac­count plan) or focused (e.g., use visuals during a presentation). Developing salespeople requires that you monitor your salespeople’s progress with the actions you assign.

Coachable Moments

In order to get peak performance from your salespeople you have to use every opportunity to develop their effectiveness. You as a coach must recognize and respond to coaching opportunities as they present themselves. This means using a different approach with each coachable moment. We’ll discuss each one separately.

When salespeople perform well.  Your objective in this situation is to reinforce the salesperson’s positive behavior. This coachable moment is often overlooked because many managers feel that salespeo­ple don’t need positive reinforcement. Unfortunately, this is a faulty assumption. Reinforcing positive behavior increases the frequency of the behavior. If you fail to reinforce positive behavior, it will occur less often.

When you want to reinforce or praise the perfor­mance of a salesperson, use the BIT Model.

B= Behavior Describe what the salesperson is doing that is positive.

I= Impact Describe why the salesperson’s perfor­mance is important and how it contributes to the organiza­tion.

T= Thank You Deliver a specific expression of appreciation.

An example of giving a BIT would be: “Making those extra calls this month has really paid off. Your 20 percent over budget really helped us get over the top this month. I really appreciate the extra effort you’ve put in. Keep up the great work!

When salespeople fail to perform. Your objective for this coachable moment is to give feedback and help salespeople improve a specific area of their performance. Giving negative feedback is not always easy, but it is necessary for improvement. To mini­mize the potential of causing salespeople to become defensive and not motivated, make sure your feedback is specific, focuses on behavior, and helpful. Using the BIEC Model should help you do so effectively.

B=  Behavior-Describe what his/her behavior is doing or not doing that needs improvement.

I= Impact-Describe how the behavior is impact­ing performance.

E=  Expectation-Explain what you expect the salesperson to do or not do to change.

C=Consequence-Explain what will happen if the salesperson changes or the consequences if the behav­ior continues.

He­re’s an exam­ple of the BIEC Model:  “Mary, this is the fourth time this month you’ve submitted sales orders with incomplete or inaccurate informa­tion. When you do this, the order has to be re-written and reprocessed. This adds to our costs and delays the order from being pro­cessed. Delays in orders can lead to lost sales and dissatisfied custom­ers. From now on, I expect your orders to be submit­ted with all the information complete and accurate. Doing so will make it easier to process your orders and keep your customers happy. Also, we can’t afford to jeopardize business because of poor paper­work. If there are future prob­lems, we’ll have to review your account list”.

When your salespeople seek help in solving a problem or maximizing an opportunity. Too often, managers solve their people’s problem instead of managing the problem-solving process. Managers take this approach because it seems the most expedient. In the short run, it probably is. But in the long run, the approach creates salespeople who are dependent on their managers. If you want to develop salespeople who take initiative, accept responsibility, and hold themselves accountable, then remember, the goal of this coachable moment is to support their efforts, not solve their problems.

Using the CEAC Model will help you draw your salespeople out and identify how you can best support their efforts.

C= Clarify the problem or opportunity.

E= Engage in a discussion of what options are available to address the issue.

A= Agree on actions to be taken with deadlines (What, by when and by whom).

C= Commit your support to the initiative.

Summary

Developing salespeople with effective coaching is an investment that requires both time and effort. A few minutes before and after a sales call or while a salesperson is developing a proposal can pay huge dividends.  Therefore,you must view coachable moments as opportunities to make a difference, not a distraction from your job.  Remember, sales managers who are constantly looking for oppor­tunities to make a difference, generally do. So, don’t let your coachable moments go unful­filled.

Developing Salespeople While Coaching on the Run

One of the biggest casualties in the battle to “do more with less” is developing salespeople. With fiercer competition, shorter deadlines, and the urgent replac­ing the important, sales managers are starting to view developing salespeople as a luxury they just can’t developing peopleafford.

Although common, this approach to manage­ment is short-sighted and can lead to long-term disaster. Even with more demands on your time you must realize that developing salespeople isn’t something you do instead of your job. It is your job!

This means finding opportunities to make a difference as they present themselves.

The key to coaching on the run is the “hand in the bucket” test. When you put your hand in a bucket of water, the water level rises.  This is the case when a you spend time with a sales­person. While you are present, the sales­person’s level of perfor­mance is elevated.  The real test for developing salespeople occurs when you are no longer present. Does the salesperson’s performance return to the previous level, or does it stay elevat­ed?  In other words, did you leave something with the salesperson to make a real and lasting difference?

Before we discuss some of the specific aspects and techniques for coaching on the run, let’s review what it takes for salespeople to perform at their optimal level. Use the checklist below to determine if you’re giving your salespeople what they need to win.

Coaching Checklist for Developing Salespeople

  • Do your people have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do?
  • Do your people have clear standards for ac­ceptable performance?
  • Do your people have the authority and re­sourc­es to perform effectively?
  • Do your people encounter little task interfer­ence (e.g., conflicting goals, objectives, procedures,   etc?)
  • Do your people receive timely and accurate feedback on their performance?
  • Do your people receive positive conse­quences and reinforcement for performing the job as it’s supposed to be done?
  • Do your people experience negative conse­quences when they fail to perform?

These guidelines apply to performance in general, as well as specifics tasks and assignments. Use the questions to assess your coaching abilities and to analyze performance problems.

Each “no” represents a potential performance problem for developing salespeople. Taking action to convert your “no” respons­es to “yes” will go a long way toward improving your people’s performance.

Building Customer Partnerships in the New Economy

Building Customer PartnershipsBuilding customer partnerships is essential for success today. Why? The New Economy demands a new approach to selling and so the world of selling has changed. Rela­tively simple times have given way to a selling environment influenced by eco­nomic, political, technological, and demo­graphic factors. The fact is, if you don’t think beyond your own product or services, and don’t adapt your selling approach to the changing times, you will be blind-sided by the competitors who do.

       The traditional selling approach focuses on a single event persuading the sales prospect to say yes to an offer of a product or service.  In each case, the selling process is a series of linear steps: pre-ap­proa­ch, ap­proa­ch, needs analy­sis, presen­tation, nego­ti­a­tions, close, and ser­vice. There are varia­tions to this tradi­tional ap­proach (and hun­dreds of sales tech­niques), but the bottom line is always the same: If you are suc­cessful in the process, you will reach the objec­tive a closed sale.

       Suppose we turn that process around to focus on customers. Suppose we place the value of winning customers above that of making a single sale. Suppose the goal is not to sell a product or service but to win customers. What have we accom­plis­hed?

       First, we have changed our perspective from short-term to long-term. A “repeat” customer is significantly more profitable in the long run than a “first-time, one-time” buyer.  Second, a steady customer produces better cash flow.  Third, the cost of re­taining a current customer is less than that of pros­pecting for a new one.  Fourth, an existing customer repre­sents a better potential for new or add-on servic­es with less asso­ciated sales ex­pense.  And final­ly, a satisfied customer is our best form of ad­vertis­ing, repre­senting an excel­lent source of refer­rals.

       In reality, successful sales­people usually hit their tar­gets. If your goal is per­suading the customers to sign a contract with your compa­ny, your past perfor­mance tells us you will not fall short. But simply making a sale falls short of the real goal of win­ning customers. And there­in lies the theory behind build­ing customer partner­ships.

       Building customer partnerships is built on a foundation of ten principles. Understanding and adapting these principles can help you become a more successful salesperson.

Principle 1: People buy for their reasons, not yours.

       You know exactly why you want to sell the customers on your products or services.  The more customers you sell the better off you and the company will be at the end of the year. Customers also have equally strong reason for buying. Perhaps they want to save money for their com­panies, as a way of increasing their worth as employees.  Or they’ve had a bad experience with your competitor and are looking for a supplier who will eliminate headaches. The important thing to remember is that customers always have their own unique reasons.

       Finding out each customers’ buying motive is a key element of building customer partner­ships. Therefore, it is impor­tant to listen to what the customers says and how he or she says it. When you’ve uncov­ered the hidden motive, you can start aligning the features and bene­fits of your product or service with the per­sonal needs of the customers. Once customers see that you can satisfy their needs, they will do whatever is necessary to do busi­ness with you.

Principle 2: People buy solutions, not products or services.

       A consumer does not buy a car because it has four wheels and two doors; a consumer buys a car because it provides transportation from point A to point B in a style the consum­er finds to his or her liking. Likewise, customers are interested in what your services can do to help solve their problems or make life easier for them. For example, buyers care less about details of how you make your product than how that product’s superior features will benefit their company.

       To be a top performing salesperson, you must transform the features and advantages of your products and services into terms customers can understand, appreciate, and apply to their own situation. When you do this, you’re building a partnership with the customers, not simply selling the customers a product or service.

Principle 3: The act of buying is a series of decisions.

       Just as you size up customers during the initial meeting, those customers are making a series of decisions about you, the company you repre­sent, and what you have to offer. Customers are also analyzing what they are currently using to service personal needs, its cost and dozens of other factors known only to customers.

       If you realize the act of buying is not a single deci­sion but a series of deci­sions, you can concentrate your efforts on learning which decision is currently uppermost in the customer’s mind. When you do that, you will be able to provide the infor­mation that will result in a favorable verdict and move the process along smoothly.

Principle 4: Decision-making follows a logical sequence.

       Each step in the decision-making process is made in a logical order. But the emotions and speed behind each decision will vary with each customer. For example, a customer may require several sales calls to accept you as a salesperson, but then move quickly to a final buying decision. Another customer may reverse the process. Consequently, you must be aware of each customer’s unique deci­sion-making process. By listen­ing, observing, and questioning, you can learn where the customer is in the decision-making process. How you interact with a customer at one stage determines when or if you earn the right to advance with the customers to the next stage.

Principle 5: Customers decide by differen­tiating.

       Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a commodity product or ser­vice. Not in the minds of customers. They will always find ways to determine differences between your services and your competitors’.  Price is one differentiator. But so are conve­nience, quality, timeliness, and dozens of other factors. A more appealing, well-thought-out sales approach may also be considered as a differentiator in the decision-making process.

       Assuming you don’t want to sell on price differentiation, it is critical for you to help the customers see tangible (and intangible) differ­ences between your services and those of Company X. Once you have created differ­ences in the customers’ mind, the buying process will move forward. Failing to do so may cause the customers to develop their own differentiation criteria, which may or may not be favorable to you.

Principle 6: If you don’t differentiate, your competitors will.

       This is really a corollary of Principle 5.  Call it the art of positioning. You want to estab­lish a positive image of yourself, your compa­ny, and your products or services in the customer’s mind before a competitor has a chance to differentiate his services. Much like a military campaign, it is easier to defend a position than attack one. In many re­spects, the sales “battlefield” is the customer’s mind.  Salespeople who establish­ their position first, by differentiating best, will win the battle and, ultimately, the customer’s trust and business.

Principle 7: The cornerstone of selling is trust.

       Remember, our goal is to win customers not just to make a fast sale. You may manip­ulate customers into buying once, but you won’t establish a customer partnership until there is trust. Since most salespeople go for the close, customers have developed elaborate defense mechanisms to put sales­people off guard and avoid a decision.

       You could try to break down the customer’s defenses, but what you will end up with is an adversarial relationship. Rather than attacking, you need to create an atmosphere of trust. If customers trust you, they’ll tell you their needs and expectations, what they really want. If you can get them to talk about what they want, they’ll listen when a solution is presented. If they listen to what you’re proposing, they’ll believe it. If they believe, they’ll continue to buy. Which is how building customer partnerships leads to long term success?

Principle 8: Trust must be earned and then re-earned.

       Just as in a friendship, trust is something you must earn time after time, day after day, contract after contract. One slip: on your part a broken promise, a false claim, a breach of trust and you risk losing more than a sale. You may have lost a hard-earned customer.

       The objective is to establish the fact that you are committed to the customers, that you will always act in the customer’s best inter­ests. This is done not through words, but through deeds. It becomes an attitude on your part. But it also must be a quality that comes through loud and clear to the customers on every sales call, includ­ing the first.

Principle 9: Know where customers stand at all times.

       Establishing a partnership is a dynamic process. At any time, the customers may be moving from one decision-making level to another: from skepticism to trust, from nega­tive to positive, from reticent to ready. The successful salesperson is constantly aware of where customers are in the buying process.

       As you prepare for your sales call, think of the process as a loop. First, gather your facts and plan your sales strategy. Then, when face to face with the customers, react to what the customers says, present information, discover information, and manage the sale as you guide the customers through the decision-making process. Finally, after the call, evalu­ate where you are, what was accomplished, and your next steps with the customers.

       This allows you to plan and control the next phase in the buying process by address­ing issues important to the customers and by building your trust level.

Principle 10: No two customers are alike.

       That’s not exactly an earth-shattering revela­tion, but it’s surprising how many sure­fire sales programs fail to recognize that customers (and salespeople) are individuals with different needs, unique styles, and distinctive ideas about how they’d like to sell and be sold.

Summary

       Building customers partnerships in the New Economy is not based on patterned responses to projected sales situa­tions. Instead, it’s based on an approach that takes best advantage of ten sound selling princi­ples, basic human beh­avioral tendencies, and common sense. After learning the approach, you’ll discover, with growing confidence, that no matter what type of person you’re dealing with, or what the competitive challenge, you will be in a better position to establish a long-term partner­ship with the customers.

 

Increase Sales with Your Time Management Practices

Want to increase sales? Analyzing your time management practices is a great  place to start. Time management practices are what you do and how you normally  manage your time. Research shows that effective time management practices are  one of the greatest contributors to high performance.

Time management practices reflects what you routinely say “yes” to as well as  what you say “no” to. It is these moments of decision that separate the higher  performers from the also rans. High performers are proactive because of the time  management they develop. They gain an unfair advantage over their competitors  because they attack the marketplace based on their personal strengths and  knowledge instead of reacting to the conditions set by others.

Because they are more strategic in their approach to their jobs, high  performing salespeople are able to keep focused on what’s important. They employ  clarity of purpose, consistent communication to the marketplace, commitment to  taking right action and the discipline to execute. These salespeople achieve  excellent results because they know:

  • Their clients and the pain they are experiencing.
  • How their product addresses the pain.
  • What message clients need to hear to make a decision.
  • How to move their clients from decision to implementation.
  • When they can’t win.

Because they have a clear and consistent strategy for approaching the  marketplace, they are able to focus on important and winnable sales  opportunities. They don’t get distracted by periodic “road kills” that  may litter the highway of a major sale. They also don’t get seduced by the  allure of landing the “big elephant” when their chances of winning are slim or  none.

The quickest way to zap your time and income is to spend $1,000 in selling  effort to land a $100 commission.

To make sure they are pursuing the right opportunities, they ask themselves:

  • Is there a fit between the client’s needs and my solution?
  • Can I win?
  • Is it worth pursuing?

By developing the discipline to ask these questions regularly, answer them  honestly and then acting on the answers, successful salespeople are able to say  “yes” to the right opportunities and “no” to the wrong ones.

One key time management practice is mentally planning the day before it  begins by visualizing what you need to do for the entire day. Research from a  variety of organizations determined that this practice is one of the most  distinguishable characteristics among high performance people. The techniques  used may vary from formulating a “to do list” just before going to bed, to  planning the day while showering. But, high performers develop the specific  discipline of mentally starting the day before the activities actually  begin.

Remember, if you don’t manage your time someone else will. Commit yourself  improving your time management practices and watch your sales increase

For a Free Assessment of your time management practices go to:http://www.philfaris.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Time-Management-Practices-Assessment-Exercise_2.pdf

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6441602

Sales Training for Improving Sales Performance

improving sales performanceImproving sales performance is an ongoing challenge for sales executives and business owners. One tool available for accomplishing this goal is sales training. Sales training is an option if you need to change salespeople’s behavior or improve their skills. Ultimately, sales training must produce good performance to be worth the time and resources it takes to  accomplish.  Salespeople are successful if they do most of the right things most of the time.  Think of the 50%-70%-90% rule.

  • 50%ers People who perform only 50% of the right things 50% of the time are average to below
    average salespeople.  Their performance suffers because they consistently fail to take many of the steps necessary to be successful.  50%ers are either people who haven’t learned what to do, or experienced people who lack the motivation to do what they know how to do.
  • 70%ers People who perform only 70% of the right things 70% of the time are average to above average salespeople.  These salespeople use most of the skills most of the time, but they periodically skip a step or take short cuts.  During short periods of time, they may perform like top performers. But, in the long run, they skip enough steps to prevent them from rising to the top.
  • 90%ers People who perform 90% of the right things 90% of the time are top performing salespeople.  They attain uniformly high
    performance because they consistently apply the skills without skipping steps.

Your role as trainer/manager, is to identify and then to train and reinforce salespeople to do the right things more frequently.
This will lead them to do the right things more effectively.  Perhaps, improving sales performance in the long-term is the hardest part of the training process.  You must become aware of the importance that recognizing and rewarding good performance plays in building self-confidence and motivating salespeople to reach higher levels of effectiveness.  Practice the following simple guidelines for enhancing post-training performance through positive reinforcement:

  1. Give positive reinforcement in a timely manner, as close to the performance as possible.
  2. Give recognition that is meaningful to the salesperson.  Giving recognition that is not meaningful or that may even be viewed as a punishment by the salesperson will decrease performance.
  3. Be specific by pinpointing the exact behavior that you want to reinforce and explaining how the behavior benefits the salesperson.
  4. Don’t wait for outstanding performance before you recognize a salesperson.  Recognizing even small improvements will
    encourage salespeople to continue their efforts.  This is particularly important with new salespeople and your poor performers.
  5. Be honest and accurate.  Don’t use superlatives all the time or salespeople may view your efforts as insincere.

Training rarely produces long term performance impact unless it leads to changes in the salesperson’s behavior. This requires practice, reinforcement and commitment. If your goal is improving sales performance you must make a commitment to training.