There is much research proving that proper sales coaching can lift your sales by 20% or more. Not only does coaching increase revenues, but it also builds a culture of self-sufficiency, growth, and retention.
When I talk to sales leaders and ask them if they coach their teams, the ones that do, find themselves more so parachuting into a deal to help close it, rather than teaching the salesperson the necessary skills so that they can close it themselves. So instead of building a highly-skilled, self-sufficient sales team, the sales leader enables the team to rely on them to close their deals.
One major reason a sales leader has to be effective at coaching is because the problem the salesperson brings them is never actually the real problem. As a result, the sales leader works on the wrong problem. Here’s an example. Let’s say salesperson Alex comes to sales leader Ann rather distraught. It’s the end of the quarter and he can’t seem to close his open deals. Ann would look at his pipeline and would think that Alex had a closing problem. So to help make the quarter, Ann jumps in to help Alex close the deal. All is good until the deal goes bad, or until the next deal.
The real problem, however, could be something much different. It could be that Alex can’t establish clear outcomes at the end of each meeting. Maybe Alex isn’t asking the tough questions to create value for his product or service. Or, Alex could be afraid to engage key decision-makers and is more comfortable dealing on a non-threatening level and therefore, can’t get a decision. The list goes on.
Until Ann can diagnose and work on the real problem, coaching will not only be ineffective, it could be inhibiting. Instead of creating a culture of learning and self-sufficiency, it will create a culture of learned helplessness. When Alex wins a deal, he gets the credit, when he loses, it was Ann’s fault! Either way Ann, Alex, and the team loses.
Are there other reasons why sales leaders fail as coaches? Yes, many. Coaching is a learned craft with an identified process, attitude, and behaviors to become effective. If you can learn the proper coaching process, you too might be able to lift your sales by 20% with your current team.