In recent blogs we’ve posted, we’ve detailed the research we’ve done through hundreds of interviews with sales leaders and testing dozens of sales teams. What we have become somewhat obsessed with, here at the SalesGym, is why do so many salespeople (about 70%) make the same four results limiting mistakes on sales calls and meetings, day after day, week after week, without changing?
Based on the interviews and testing, it was clear that despite all the money invested in training, coaching programs, and incentives to get sales managers to focus harder on coaching, most salespeople did not respond to the training and coaching and got stuck making these same mistakes over and over.
Certainly, sales managers and leaders want their coaching to have greater impact and they certainly intend for those coaching conversations to change those bad habits, but more often than not, they don’t. To understand why, it’s important to look at the four types of sales coaching.
Most of the executives we interviewed told us they had programs in place to teach sales coaching and when we took a deeper look, what we found was the sales coaching programs they presented were focused around three distinct types of sales coaching:
A popular form of “sales coaching” as understood by front line sales managers, is the analysis of numbers, metrics, pipeline, territory and performance data combined with the discussion of that data and strategy to influence sales behavior.
Another popular style of sales coaching is based around observing salespeople in actual selling situations and then giving feedback and suggestions on how to improve.
The effort to get the sales team motivated around goals, personal motivating factors and the energy component to work harder, be more focused, etc.
We call these three approaches to coaching strategic, observational and motivational coaching. Sales managers that spend a higher percentage of their time coaching, typically are doing these three types of coaching. Unfortunately, these three types of coaching have a minimal impact on the four mistakes most salespeople are making on actual sales calls and meetings.
There is, however, one other style of sales coaching that is far more effective.
The Athlete Centered Model of Sales Coaching
This style is called the “athlete centered model” because it involves coaching salespeople the same way athletes are coached, with practice, repetition and incrementally increasing difficulty and feedback. It’s practice and rehearsal based whereas most other forms of sales coaching are discussion and advice based. This is a significant difference that many sales executives are not familiar with. Most sales coaching is discussion and advice giving, which is why it is so ineffective at breaking habits that are deeply ingrained and uncomfortable to change.
Occasionally, by some random occurrence, we’ve run into a sales manager that has learned this approach to coaching. Often, it’s a sales manager that has had experience coaching in athletics and brings those methods over to their sales organization. This style can have a dramatic impact on breaking bad selling habits when it is done skillfully. They are, generally speaking, lone wolves in this respect as there are very few sales organizations that teach and hold their sales managers accountable to this style of coaching and training.
The Bottom Line …
The three most common forms of coaching – observational, strategic and motivational have virtually no impact on the selling mistakes that have the most limiting impact on selling results. Most salespeople need coaching that is based on the athlete model if they are going to learn to sell the way top performers do.
The way to make this happen is to approach sales training the same way elite sports teams approach training their teams to win under pressure. The first thing you need is a practice system that’s effective.
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