Coaching to Improve Sales

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In order to be happy, human beings must feel they are continuing to grow. Clearly, we must adopt the concept of continuous improvement as a daily principle. – Tony Robbins

“Coaching Performance” is simply the facilitation of the learning process for an individual who is performing a job. Where a job description defines the job, coaching lets the learner know when s/he has hit the target and provides instruction on what can be done better.

When the goal is to improve sales performance, coaching is the preferred learning method because it is up close and personal and obviates learning by the painful hunt, guess and cuss method.

Coaching to Prevent Failure or to Achieve Sales Success?

It seems like a subtle difference, however, upon closer examination: Failure is the condition of not succeeding, so if we prevent failure we will have succeeded. It’s one of those ideas that seems reasonable on the surface but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

To clarify the difference between preventing failure and achieving success, consider two different batting coaches with two different styles.

The first works hard to prevent failure. The batter is in the box, faces the pitch, swings, and misses. “We don’t pay people to miss!” yells the batting coach. “When you swing at the ball we expect you to hit it!”

Not wanting to miss the next pitch, the batter doesn’t swing. “We don’t pay you to stand there with the bat on your shoulder!” explodes the batting coach. “You’re supposed to make contact with the ball! If you don’t on the next pitch, I’ll bench you!”

On the third pitch the batter makes contact the surest way possible — he bunts.

The second coach waits until batting practice. “You’re batting 230,” he says. “You’ve done a lot better. Try changing one thing. You’re swinging too hard. When you do, your muscles fight each other. That takes power away from the hit. It also pulls the bat out of line. So stop trying to hit so hard — stroke the ball instead.”

The first coach tries to prevent failure. His method is the obvious one: Fear of consequences. The second coach tries to foster success. To do that, he increases confidence and improves technique.

The Difference is in the Sales Results

People who worry about what not to do again next time don’t perform as well as people who focus on what to do to get the result they want. Negative thinking works against them. They become preoccupied with avoiding the negatives. They focus on the goal, rather than on doing the right things to achieve it.

People who focus on what to do to get the desired result know they must do certain right things to make progress toward — and to reach — each goal, building competence along the way. And competence builds confidence, empowering us to reach higher.

Coaching in Action – Coach the action, not the results.

This is an example of the coaching process in action. Let the situation guide your language but try to adhere to the basic principles:

Give Direction – Coach: Last week we talked about increasing your set appointments by 50% with a goal of 12 set appointments.

Positive Focus – Coach: What did you do this week that you felt was working well for you? And why do you think that worked?” Do not discuss negatives. Sales rep: I focused on getting past the 1st and 2nd objection and asking a 3rd time for the appointment. It seemed like they were more likely to say yes when I had the opportunity to ask a 3rd time.

Empowerment – Coach: So, how do you keep that going next week? Sales rep: I’m just going to plan on getting past the first two objections so I can ask a third time on each call.

Assessment – Coach: You came in just under your goal this week but it was still an improvement so it must be working. We still need to get to your goal of 12. Based on your progress, if you have enough contacts you should be able to hit that. Keep up the good work.

Action Plan and Commitment – Coach: Let’s plan on touching base Tuesday night to check your progress. We can see where you are and take a few moments to go over the phone technique again. Sound good? Let’s look at our schedules.

Matthew Murray
Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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