Talent Development: Coaching Your Sales People to Higher Levels of Success

Talent Development
Coaching Your Sales People to Higher Levels of Success

There is no question that we are currently dealing in a very difficult sales environment. It doesn’t seem to matter what industry a firm is selling to, everywhere the sales “close” seems more and more elusive.

Even strong sales people seem at a loss right now as to how to move unmotivated, fearful prospects off the sidelines. What is a firm to do except fire all of their sales staff and start over again?

Firms invest something on the order of twenty times salary in the hiring and training process, according to Dr. Bradford Smart author of “TopGrading”. In the sales arena, we argue that it is probably more than this because of the lost opportunity costs also involved when sales people are unproductive.

Twenty times salary— that’s a lot of money invested. How do you ensure that you are going to be able to generate a return on this investment?

Individual coaching for your sales people can be a wise investment. It particularly makes sense when there is a mismatch between the approach and style of the Sales Manager and that of their sales person. Why is coaching a smart approach? The coaching process:

  • Focuses on the individual and their particular strengths and needs for improvement. It differs from traditional training in that it doesn’t try to offer a “one-size fits all” approach.
  • Allows a Sales Manager to receive independent feedback on an employee’s progress and this feedback can either validate or change their own assumptions about the individual in the role.
  • Gives the sales person a “partner” to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm with and to freely experiment with different techniques without feeling like there is a penalty to pay. It can be difficult with the boss, or with other colleagues to step out and run the risk of looking stupid.
  • Is a low cost investment with a high potential return. Either the sales person becomes more effective during the process and increases their close ratio and overall revenue, or the Sales Manager has sufficient information to know that this person isn’t going to be successful in the long term.

Before you fire your sales people or otherwise give up on them, coaching is definitely worth a try.