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 afford.
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.