Sales coaching. Most sales leaders will tell you they are good coaches. Yet most sales leaders are inconsistent in their approach to meetings with the team, and as a result, your team never really knows what to expect from you. Deadlines, pressure from the top, lack of sleep, and other factors affect the way you show up. Like it or not the inconsistent approach is compromising your leadership and reputation with the team. The team is left wondering if you know how to coach them, or if you really know what you want from them.
You’re on a mission. After all, you, as the sales leader, have goals and quotas to reach too. There’s no doubt that your success, as well as your reputation and career, is directly tied to the performance of your sales team. But did you know that how you lead your sales meetings could be hurting your leadership?
In fact, I bet you haven’t thought about it before.
Most sales leaders know the difference between a coaching conversation and a review conversation. But good sales leaders make sure the sales team knows the difference between coaching and review conversations, and good sales leaders know how to lead each conversation well. Coaching salespeople isn’t hard, but it requires intention.
Both conversations are very important, but the agenda for each conversation is very different. Mastering these conversations will make you a better leader and will build your credibility with the sales team.
This is a conversation for you. It’s a conversation where you control the agenda. Maybe there’s something you need a sales professional to do, do differently, or try. Maybe you need to share some organizational changes. Sometimes you need to discuss policy changes, new technology, or a company update. Of course you want updates on the big deals you expect to close, you want information on a specific customer, pipeline or forecast. And sometimes we need to have difficult conversations about performance, skills, attitudes, and execution of the sales process. The review conversation is your time to talk about items on your agenda. These conversations are necessary and appropriate. In fact, you need at least one review conversation each month with every sales person that reports to you. I discuss a good review conversation framework here.
This is a conversation for them. In sales coaching conversations the sales professional needs to set and manage the agenda, not you. These conversations are an opportunity for the sales rep to come to you for guidance and assistance around their goals or challenges. It’s a conversation about their expectations, goals, and their agenda. If you want to improve your coaching skills, then read Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions by Keith Rosen.
It’s good practice to have scheduled conversations with your sales team. Many sales professionals yearn for more time with their sales leader, but are forced to take the few spare moments in the sales leader’s “busy” schedule. Take time to schedule a standing sales review and a sales coaching conversation with your team (at least once a month) and your image and impact will improve.
Keep Conversations Separate
You will be tempted to coach during review conversations and, conversely, ask for updates during a coaching conversation. Catch yourself. Stop. Remember the point of the meeting and make a mental note to discuss the topic at an appropriate time.
A Practical Guide to Better Sales Leadership
If you want to be better at coaching your sales team or you want to take your sales leadership to the next level, then check out my new book Revenue Harvest: A Sales Leader’s Almanac for Planning the Perfect Year.