Recently, we had an opportunity to interview Luca Lazzaron, Chief Revenue Officer with Sprinklr and listen to his thinking on top-performing salespeople, sales coaching and how to improve performance. His thoughts were centered around the following topics:
- People, Process and Playbook… the 3 P’s
- Strong Sales Leaders Need the Heart of a Coach
- Practice is the Key to Rapid Improvement
- Deliver Better Sales Meetings
Early in the interview, Luca said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“Success in sales comes down to the people, process, and playbook. People come first, as success in a leadership position depends on the people that work with the leader. Look for people with a growth mindset … you are not going to win the Super Bowl with mediocre players. You need players who want to learn and learn from their mistakes.
Once you have great people, then you need a process and framework that will give them more chances to be successful and productive for the company. A great process leads to consistency, which leads to the ability to forecast. Then you have the playbook. It’s like American Football where the quarterback calls the play on the line of scrimmage and everybody knows what to do. They are audible ready and with a sales team, that means they can articulate the value proposition, not from the perspective of how great they are, but from the perspective of how they can help the customer solve their problem.”
A lot of sales organizations would improve rapidly if they’d focus on Luca’s 3 P’s — People … Process … Playbook.
Strong Sales Leaders Need the Heart of a Coach
Sales leaders think and talk a lot about what it takes to succeed in sales and what are the right characteristics to look for in new hires. Luca shared an insight into top performers with us,
“Great salespeople are curious. That curiosity means they’re going to ask questions and passionately care about the answer, instead of just taking a note and moving to the next question.”
We find, when coaching sales teams at the SalesGym, that sellers with natural curiosity have a big advantage because curiosity has a tendency to reduce resistance and increase receptivity. Strong sales managers look for sellers with that sense of curiosity and then coach them to bring that out in their sales interactions.
Luca shared a very interesting insight into coaching with us,
“As a leader, you have to inspire and coach … then take every opportunity you have to coach some more. Great leaders have the heart of a coach. If you inspire and coach, then you earn the right to inspect. Unfortunately, so many mediocre managers start with inspecting.”
In selling, curiosity and a desire to truly understand the customer’s situation is a key that unlocks opportunity and for sales coaches, it’s really about having your heart in the right place. It’s about wanting to help the team succeed and being willing to practice and practice some more, the same way elite sports coaches do it, to prepare the team for their important selling interactions. Too many sales managers think sales management is mostly about numbers, metrics, KPI’s, pipeline forecasting and holding the team accountable. Sure, that’s important, but remember where the best sports coaches spend most of their time … practicing with the team to prepare for the next game.
Practice is the Key to Rapid Improvement
Sales organizations that build a true practice culture are going to attract better people and develop them more quickly, as Luca explains,
“Practice will make the difference for every activity that you do in sales. From a leadership perspective, practice has to be a part of the culture from day one and it needs to be fun. The entire organization needs to believe in practice.”
It’s also important to realize that big training events, centered around 1-2 days of intense sales training does not give the sales team the practice they typically need. Practice needs to be more consistent and built into the weekly schedule, as Luca explains,
“The frontline manager needs to lead the culture of coaching because there is only so much learning a salesperson can digest at one time. If the manager gives out 100 words to practice, the salesperson will only absorb 13 and they will only practice 10, so the manager has to continually coach every day, every week, every month. You have to continually go back to the fundamentals and practice them over and over again until it is second nature.”
Deliver Better Sales Meetings
Sales meetings are a perfect place to practice, develop skills, share best practices and inspire the team. Sales meetings are also a perfect place to waste time and demotivate the team. All too often, sales meetings can fall into the trap of becoming a painful exercise in sales forecasting and group accountability that is an efficient way for the sales leader to get some numbers and commitments but produces very little value for the sales team.
Great sales meetings start with a good agenda, as Luca explains,
“To have a successful meeting you have to show up prepared and have an agenda. If a meeting does not have an agenda, I don’t go.”
One really effective agenda item more sales managers should consider is a practice exercise where every salesperson in the meeting practices delivering an agenda for an upcoming sales meeting. Here’s how it could work:
- The assignment is for each salesperson in the meeting to identify the most important upcoming sales call on their calendar
- Then, they think through the agenda they will communicate to start that meeting off and make some notes on it
- Then, one-by-one, go around the room and hear each salesperson deliver that agenda just as they would communicate it directly to the customer. Keep the pace moving fast until everyone has communicated their agenda.
- In the end, after everyone has delivered their agenda, ask for feedback in terms of what were good elements of execution we can all learn from and apply to upcoming meetings?
This is a great exercise because it helps salespeople prepare for an upcoming meeting the same way athletes prepare (with planning and practice) and as a side benefit, the sales manager gets to hear a little about the most important sales meetings the team has coming up over the next couple of weeks.
Luca also reminded us that it’s important to check in with the sales team for feedback,
“As a leader, ask for feedback. Ask your team if the meeting was worth their time, did we move the needle, did you get any value out of this.”
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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