In addition to training, sales coaching is one of the most important investments an organization can make in their team. While group coaching is important and expedient, the best results often stem from one-on-one coaching. Unfortunately, for many, these sessions can degenerate into simple number crunching. Of course, the metrics are important, and managers should stress the KPIs, but effective coaching must always get beyond statistics. For the best results, coaching should provide an opportunity for teamwork, collaboration, and mentoring. Here are some ways managers can get more out of their one-on-one sales coaching sessions.
Match Your Sales CycleFor many organizations, monthly meetings make sense. Of course, you want to give reps freedom, but the frequency of your coaching sessions should match your sales cycle. Reps with longer cycles, such as those who deal with enterprise clients, can benefit from the flexibility of a monthly meeting. However, sales development reps (SDRs) and those in higher volume sales could be better served by weekly or biweekly meetings. As a rule, provide time for things to happen but be vigilant enough to catch issues before they become problems.
Be ConsistentNo matter how often you meet, keep a consistent schedule. Coaching should never feel haphazard, random, or hurried. If you treat it this way, your reps will too. Stress its importance by sticking to a schedule.
Prepare a Rep AgendaWhile managers should set an agenda for their coaching sessions, it’s equally important to let your reps also prepare. Like a good sales meeting, the best coaching sessions are interactive. In addition to increased buy-in, giving reps a stake in the agenda selection can reveal issues managers might have missed or didn’t think were important.
Offer Additional TimeNo matter the frequency of your coaching sessions, always set a definite time limit. This helps reps keep their focus. Provide the opportunity to let your reps speak more and ask any questions that may arise from your tips and suggestions.
Listen MoreJust as the best sales pros listen more and speak less, the same is true of sales coaches. While the tendency may be for coaches to dominate by sticking to a schedule and making critiques, don’t let an agenda supersede performance. By letting your reps speak more, you will gain insight into their thinking and better understand their behavior. This provides greater opportunity to praise their strengths and correct their weaknesses.
Look Forward, Not BackWhen coaching, it can be easy only to focus on past performance. While some reflection is necessary and part of coaching must be pointing out mistakes and offering suggestions, coaching will be much more productive when you look forward to what sales reps can do instead of just looking back.
Focus Less on Metrics, More ActionAnother trap for coaches is getting so caught up in numbers you neglect the human element. While the numbers are key to gauging performance, the focus of coaching should always be on activity. Instead of coming up with more goals to reach, effective one-on-one coaching should stress the things reps need to do, the actions they should take, and the behaviors they need to employ to get the most from their efforts.
Like any routine, it can be easy to let sales coaching slide or become perfunctory. After all, you’re looking at the same key performance indicators (KPIs), time after time, for each of your sales reps. Often, it could feel like you’re repeatedly saying the same things. However, sales managers must remember that coaching is more than numbers. Your one-on-one sessions are an opportunity to build relationships with your reps, understand each other, and guide them to greater success. Just as salespeople take pride in building relationships and providing solutions, for managers, one-on-one coaching is a reminder that sales is about helping others, whether they’re our clients or our reps.