Elite athletes, pop stars, top selling writers, politicians, Fortune 100 CEO’s all have one thing in commonthey hire coaches to help them achieve their goals faster and become or maintain their ‘number one’ status. Elite performers see the value their coach brings to their craft. They know their coach will help them gain and create insights that transform their performance. The rest of us can take the same approach. Many salespeople see the value of hiring a sales coach to help maintain an edge internally and over your competitors.
As highlighted recently in the article ‘Are you at risk of losing your top sales performers?‘I mentioned the story of a young sales woman who contacted Barrett looking for expert sales coaching. Here is the excerpt: ‘My repeated requests to my manager for coaching and training were dismissed as too costly. I went outside to get the development I craved. My manager just wasn’t interested in giving me any of his time to coach me and certainly wasn’t interested in paying any money for my development. So I paid $3,000 of my own money for 6 one-on-one sales coaching sessions and they really helped. The benefits of one-on-one sales coaching were enormous. I achieved 130% of my budget in my first year and made the annual incentive trip overseas. My manager tried to claim the credit for my success. Needless to say into my second year nothing changed on the management front so after a further 9 months in solitude I left the company to pursue a career where personal development was valued.’
This young woman is an example of a growing number of sales professionals looking externally for coaching support to help them succeed and achieve their goals. They often tell us that that they are not getting the professional development or coaching they crave from their sales managers or business leaders. Often left to fend for themselves, these high performers want to be successful so they employ their own coach.
But a word of caution: you need to know what you are looking for. Not all coaches are the same and not all will be able to help you. If you are going to employ a sales coach make sure they:
- Have had relevant sales experience and know how to sell well themselves (in a 21st century consultative sales way of course; no used car, product flogging, charm merchants)
- They have knowledge and experience in sales strategy, sales planning, prospecting, sales communication, account management, negotiation, team work, etc.
- Have recognised coaching qualifications with at least 100 hours of real time coaching experience and testimonials to back up their success.
- Use an integrated mix of recognised coaching tools and resources
- Know where their professional boundaries lie – they do not delve into nor try and fix any clinical or deeply personal issues, unless they are clinically trained in psychology and/or medicine. If they claim to be able to work in this space without appropriate qualifications do not continue with them.
- Have your interests at heart and remain professional at all times. They do not try to make you dependant on them.
A coach can wear a number of hats at any one time. They can act as your sounding board, someone who listens without prejudice. Your coach should be a person who helps and guides you while you set your own goals and strategies. They keep you accountable and focused on the priorities that are most important. They might also critique the way you do things, which may be the difference between winning that $200M deal you have been trying to close for months! Here is a lovely quote I found on coaching: ‘A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.’ John Wooden, American Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee.
A good sales coach knows the difference between Deal Based coaching and Strategic Coaching; they know what type of coaching you need based on where you are at – skills, transformational, remedial, or high performance coaching. If you want to read more about what qualities you should look for in an experience coach then go to Why Barrett Coaching.
Fortunately you don’t have to go it alone. Like the young woman mentioned previously you can get your own sales coach, however the good news that more and more Sales Leaders and Managers are now being trained on how to coach properly. Sales Management is quickly seeing the merit in coach training from a team engagement perspective and for staff retention, as well as the obvious and financial viewpoint.
Gallup research has demonstrated that there is a very significant connection between outstanding salespeople and their managers. The research indicated that having the right sales manager/coach can result in a 20% improvement in a sales person’s performance. In addition, it is not uncommon to find that almost 90% of what salespeople learn in a sales training program is lost unless it is effectively embedded and integrated back in the workplace and led by managers through effective coaching.
So if you desire to be at the top of your game and stay ahead of your competitors, remember great sales people don’t hesitate to ask others for support. Just like our proactive sales capabilities we take our role seriously and enlist the coaching that will make us a truly top performer and one of the best.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.