The most limited resource for any salesperson and sales manager is time. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, to visit new prospects, meet with existing customers about new ideas, put out customer fires, etc. So why is it that sales managers insist on wasting more of their time by forcing them to sit down and participate in a strategy coaching session? Wouldn’t everyone be better off if salespeople spend more time face-to-face with clients? Yes – salespeople would be better off spending more time with clients rather than sitting in ineffective strategic coaching sessions. The key word in this sentence is “ineffective”. Strategy coaching sessions can be helpful – If they are done right. So, how can you make the most of these sessions? How can a manager make sure they aren’t wasting the most valuable resource they and their sales team have – time.
We believe there are two keys to help make the most of your strategy sessions: (1) Pick the RIGHT opportunities to discuss; and (2) Don’t just gather information – challenge people’s thinking.
- Pick the right opportunities. Let’s face it – some opportunities are simply more important than others. How you determine what’s important varies; it could have something to do with opportunity size, whether strategically important products are involved, which competitors are involved in the opportunity, etc. A sales manager doesn’t have time to coach every salesperson on every opportunity – so, they’d better make the most out of the coaching sessions. That means selecting the right opportunities where your coaching efforts can pay big dividends. Don’t coach opportunities where it’s too late to have an impact – get in early in the process. Why coach on opportunities where you have great client relationships? Instead, coach on opportunities where you need to develop a proactive plan to neutralize an adversary. The key is to select the types of opportunities that mean the most to you, your salesperson and your company. That helps narrow the focus and minimize the time wasted on less valuable opportunities.
- Challenge peoples’ thinking. Too often, strategy coaching sessions are nothing more than information sharing. Questions such as, “Who’s your strongest advocate?” or “Who’s our main competitor?” aren’t helpful. This information is probably already loaded into your CRM or put into whatever opportunity planning tool your sales teams are using. Why waste time asking questions to simply “test your reps understanding”, they most likely will know the answers to these questions. Instead, spend your coaching time doing something meaningful. This means dissecting the salesperson’s strategy or approach, testing the assumptions they might be making, or helping the salesperson come up with new ideas to improve their position. In this context, questioning takes on new meaning. It is less about getting information, and more about developing a plan.
Strategy Coaching needs to add unique value. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be doing it. If your strategic coaching sessions aren’t helping the salesperson think differently about an opportunity or take action that they wouldn’t have taken on their own, then your strategic coaching sessions are a waste of time – for you and your salesperson. If you are pressed for time, and unfortunately as most of us are, you have to get it right. By focusing your efforts on the right opportunities and by changing your dialogue from one of “discovery” to one problem solving, you can make the impact you’ve wanted to make all along.
To explore this topic further, you can read our white paper that discusses the power of strategic coaching. Click HERE to download.
This article is written by Steve Gielda and first appeared on LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/stop-wasting-your-time-coaching-sales-reps-steve-gielda/