Developing Salespeople: Creating a Coaching Budget

Developing salespeople is like saving for retirement. If you don’t create  a realistic plan and invest accordingly you’ll be disappointed when you retire. Salespeople need a plan and an investment of time and energy in order to help them realize their full potential. Too often training and developing salespeople becomes a “round to it” for sales managers because they have other more pressideveloping salespeopleng things to do…like paper work and meetings. This is a mistake you can’t afford to make.

Another mistake sales managers make is treating every salesperson the same. This article will help develop salespeople while getting the most from each salesperson and your time.

Developing Salespeople

Each salesperson will require different approaches and need varying amounts of time.  Since you can’t be all things to all people, you must assess where your management time will bring its greatest return.  This means you must allocate your coaching time to make sure the people who have the greatest need and potential receives the most time.  The people who have the least need and represent the smallest potential for improvement receive the least time.

To make sure that you effectively allocate your time properly you’ll need to take the following actions:

      Create a Coaching Budget — To help you determine how much time you have available to spend with your people. For example if there are 240 work days and you want to spend 60% of your time coaching salespeople then your budget is 144 days. The results you get from developing salespeople are determined by how you spend your coaching budget.

      Assess each salesperson — When assessing salespeople you want to focus on their skills, knowledge and attitude. Make sure that you assess for  both the needs and potential of your people.  This will help you to spend the most time where the need and potential is greatest.

      Allocation of Coaching Days — Based on your assessment you now must commit your time to ensures that each salesperson gets an optimal amount of coaching time.  The key to setting priorities in this situation is to ask these questions “What will happen to performance if I don’t spend time with the salespeople?” and, “What will happen if I do?”

      Coaching Calendar — This formalizes your allocation of coaching time.  Since coaching time is the most important activity you can perform schedule it in your weekly and monthly plans first.  Then schedule other activities around your allocated coaching days.  Doing so will help prevent you from getting bogged down doing unimportant but urgent tasks instead of spending time with your people.

Developing salespeople won’t happen unless you make the time to do it. There are always going to be activities waiting to steal your time and distract you from your most important responsibility. If you want your salespeople to be peak performers then create your coaching budget and stick with it. Committing your budget to your calendar helps create the necessary discipline to make it happen.

If you’d like more information on creating a coaching budget and developing salespeople check out my eBook “Coaching for Peak Performance”. 

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 with the OREO Model

Developing salespeople is easy when you can understand and apply three basic concepts:

1.  “Winning is fun, losing isn’t!”

2.  “Winning is different for every person!”developing salespeople

3.  “Your job as a manager is to help your people win everyday!”

When you discover what winning is for your people, then you are well on your way to helping them succeed. The quickest way to help salespeople win is to have a clear description of where they want to go or what they want. This is called an outcome. Using their outcomes to achieve business goals is an effective method of getting results and developing salespeople.

One way to organize a plan for achieving an outcome is the OREO Method developed by corporate trainer, Gerry Schmidt.

  •  Outcome: What is the desired result?
  • Reality: What is the current situation, including the resources available and the resources that are needed to change the  current situation?
  • Evidence: What evidence will be used to demonstrate that the outcome has been achieved?
  • Operations: What will the salesperson do to achieve the desired outcome?

Here are some important guidelines for Applying OREO while developing salespeople:

1.    Key to successful coaching is having a clearly stated and well-formed outcome. To discover someone’s outcome ask, “What do you want?”

To ensure that the person’s outcome is well-formed, make sure that it is:

•      Stated in the positive (describe what the person wants and not what the person doesn’t want).

•      Within the person’s control. The actions that will lead to the desired outcome must be within the person’s control.

•      Actions must be small enough and specific enough to facilitate immediate action.

•      Actions must have time frames.

•      Achieving the outcome will produce or lead to achieving a larger goal or outcome.

To determine the larger goal or outcome ask, “What will ________________ (insert desired outcome) get you or allow you to do?

2.    The next step is to assess the person’s current reality and compare it to the desired outcome. To assess a person’s reality, ask the following questions:

•      Compared to your desired outcome, where are you now?

•      What stops you from having the desired outcome now?

•      What are you doing that is keeping you from having the desired outcome?

•      What resources are available?

•      What resources are needed?

3.    Evidence defines how people will know that their outcome has been achieved. To determine a person’s evidence ask, “How will you know when you have achieved this outcome?”

To help clarify the evidence, ask the following:

•      What will other people see, hear, and feel when you achieve your outcome?

•      What will be the first indications that you’re making progress towards your outcome?

•      What other benchmarks will you use?

•      What will be the long-term impact of achieving the outcome?

•      How will achieving this outcome impact other areas of your life?

4.    Operations outline the person’s plan of attack. To discover a person’s operation, ask “What will you do to achieve this outcome?”  To make the plan as practical and effective as possible, ask the following questions:

•      How else can you achieve the outcome?

•      What are you going to do first?

•      Specifically, when are you going to do it?

•      What could get in the way of your success?

•      What support do you need to be successful?

•      How certain are you that you will carry out the agreed upon actions? (Use a scale of 1-10, with 10 being absolutely certain.) If the rating is less than an 8, find a new outcome or a new plan of action.

When salespeople do things for their reasons they are far more motivated than if they were doing things for yours.  Using the OREO model for developing salespeople helps you keep them focused on activities that produce meaningful results.

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.

Sales Coaching : When Do You Step In on a Sales Call?

A common problem on coaching calls is the sales manager taking over the sales call or “stepping in”. Sales managers often ask “when is it appropriate to step in?” Some of the most common reasons given for stepping in are:

• The salesperson is really in trouble

• The salesperson has made a major mistake

• The salesperson is about to lose a sale

• It’s a very big sale

• The salesperson can’t handle the customer

Although all of these are very compelling reasons for stepping in, they are merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. If you have to step in on a coaching call, it’s a signal that you have failed as a coach on that call. Stepping in prevents the salesperson from developing his/her selling skills and it prevents you from being able to fully exercise your coaching skills. Once you step in, you are no longer an objective observer, but an active participant. This severally limits your ability to focus on what the salesperson is doing right or wrong. When you step in, you are telling the salesperson that this call is more important than his or her development.

If salespeople aren’t ready to make a call on their own, then make the call a joint call or a training call. But, if you agree that it’s a coaching call and salespeople are responsible for the outcome, then let them succeed or fail on their own merits. Your job at that point is to make sure your salespeople have learned from the experience.

Sales Management Strategies: Making Sales Calls with Your Reps

In today’s demanding marketplace sales managers must have strategies for increasing sales and developing people. Besides enhancing relationships with customers making calls is the best opportunity to do both. This article outlines strategies for making three different sales calls that will drive sales and develop your people. They are:

• Training
• Joint
• Coaching

Each has a different purpose, strategy and the roles for both you and the salesperson are also different.

Training calls teach the salesperson how to do a specific aspect of the job. Your make the presentation while the salesperson observes. The key to a success is for you to demonstrate proper selling skills and techniques. Your job is to give the salesperson an effective model and make sure the salesperson understands how to perform the aspect of the job you have demonstrated. Before the call, make sure the salesperson knows:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The skills or techniques you are demonstrating
  • His/her role

After, be sure to review the following:

  • Were the objectives achieved?
  • What helped?
  • What hindered?
  • How else could the call have been made?

Joint calls support a team approach. Both you and the salesperson have defined roles and responsibilities. Before, make sure you review the following:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The strategy
  • What role will each person play?
  • Who is responsible for each segment of the call?
  • How will you interact during the call?

After, you should discuss:

  • Were the objectives met?
  • What helped?
  • What hindered?
  • How could the call have been improved?
  • Who is responsible for following up on commitments made during the call (if any)?

Coaching calls are designed for you to observe and assess the salesperson’s performance. The salesperson’s role is to make the sales call. Your role is to observe and offer feedback after the call. Coaching calls are a true test of your listening and observing skills, not your selling skills. Before, be sure to cover:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The strategy
  • Responses to obstacles that may come up

After, discuss the following:

  • Were the objectives met?
  • What helped (what were the salesperson’s strengths)?
  • What hindered (what were the salesperson’s improvement opportunities)?
  • How could the call have been improved or handled differently?
  • What actions need to be taken next

Seating relative to the customer is important on each situation. The key is for you to situate yourself consistent with the agreed upon role and objectives. Use these guidelines:

Training calls-Position yourself closest to the customer so that the salesperson can observe easily. Also the proximity to the customer establishes that you are taking the lead.

Joint Calls-Sit side by side with the salesperson. This signals equality of your roles and makes it easy for “handing off” to each other.

Coaching calls– The salesperson should be closest to the customer making sure that you are out of the salesperson’s peripheral view. This positioning establishes the salesperson as the lead and helps prevent the salesperson from presenting to you instead of the customer.

To increase sales you need a well-trained and high performing sale force.Making sales calls with your salespeople gives you the greatest leverage points for developing them and making sales. To make sure you have successful call strategies set clear expectations and define roles.

 

 

Why Sales Training Fails

Many sales executive wonder why sales training fails to get results. Unfortunately, many sales managers and trainers spend time  and effort doing sales training that never deliver bottom line results. We’ll explore  the twelve most common reasons why sales training fails and what to do to avoid  them. The twelve reasonswhy sales training fails are:

1. No support. Training is not linked to top management’s mission, goals and  priorities.

2. No need. Salespeople do not see a reason to change or don’t feel a need  for the training.

3. No Relevance. Salespeople feel the concepts or materials don’t apply to  their situation or territory.

4. Distractions. Salespeople are so preoccupied with events outside of the  training (i.e. making budget, handling a customer complaint, etc.) that they  can’t focus on the training itself.

5. Poor planning. The training isn’t organized and time and resources are  poorly used..

6. No Involvement. Training relies on lecture and other passive learning  methodologies.

7. No confidence. Salespeople don’t develop enough confidence during the  training to try the new approach on the job.

8. No role model. Managers fail to provide a positive role model for the  skills and concepts presented. The message is, “do as I say, not as I do.

9. No reward. Salespeople don’t receive any positive reinforcement or payoff  for trying new approaches.

10.No coaching. Salespeople don’t receive coaching on how to handle specific  on-the-job situations.

11.No feedback. Salespeople don’t receive feedback about how their efforts  impact the result.

12.Task Interference. Salespeople encounter barriers, including lack of time,  physical environment, resources, policies and lack of authority as they attempt  to use new skills.

Keep these twelve reasons in mind as you prepare for a training event. You  can avoid most, if not all with proper planning, preparation, and follow  through. For more information on onboarding new salespeople go to:trainingwinnersnow