Coaching the Best - The Sales System
What’s a system? It’s a bunch of connected pieces which work together in an organized manner - one that produces a certain state. We cooperate or exist within systems in everyday life. Examples include solar systems, financial systems, and digestive systems. The purposes and proper functioning of these systems create an effect upon our lives - bad or good. One of these, the solar system, operates on a precise path of planet orbits and gravitational power - all under the influence of the sun.
In the sports world, each year we see coaches fired or forced to resign. Their systems (driven by their attitudes and beliefs) no longer win ball games at a rate that boosters, fans, and other stakeholders want. The coach’s influence, channeled through a system, no longer produces wins at accepted norms. Result? Coaches resign or leave.
The next coach brings a new system. New and existing players learn different standards, behaviors, practice schedules, skills, schemes, pre-game routines, and on and on and on .... Everyone hopes the new system will lead the team to greatness or to a level that satisfies all who watch and participate.
Interestingly, while the next coach does bring a new system, the coaching areas remain the same. The coach recruits. The players practice. They play defense and offense. The plays may change. The skills may be sharpened. And,new learning tools may be introduced. But, the major parts of the game remain the same. There really are a finite number of system areas for a sport ... and, they will always remain the same. Recruiting, offense, defense, practice, plays, etc.
And, the system for coaching a sales group also has a finite number of areas or stages. They are ... (1) Knowing People; (2) Managing Processes; (3) Building Teams.
Knowing People begins in the recruitment system. During the screening, profiling, and interviewing stages of a best practice recruitment process the tools used there help select the best new recruits. They also provide initial input of strengths, weaknesses, and motivational information for coaching a salesperson as they join the team. Subsequently, as the sales manager interacts with the salesperson during sales planning and on sale calls, additional information gathered helps the sales manager coach necessary skill areas or counsel attitudes.
Best practice tools in the “Knowing People” stage include personality profiles, individual coaching Information sheets, foundation interviews, sales plans, sales calls, and one-on-one review meetings. As their skills improve, coaches learn to ‘read’ personality and motivational triggers.
For example, some players like public recognition. Others do not. Coaches also learn when and who to challenge, when to teach, and when to leave someone alone. A bell-shaped performance curve with performers ranked best to worst across the curve, provides a visual gage for planning coaching time and training strategies.
Managing Processes. Three process areas exist in sales team management. The strategies, tools, and skills used in these processes vary with the length of sales cycle, type of selling, and market. Even so the process areas remain the same. Great sales managers learn to manage unique people within processes that they customize for their company.
The process areas they manage are: (1) Sale planning; (2) Activity management (or strategy management for long sales cycles), and (3) Face-to-face selling.
Many types of tools, skills, and strategies may be used to makes these process areas effective. Some common ones are ... sales planning forms, prospecting and approach activities and methods, activity ratios, sales funnels, closing ratios, sales boards, 30 sec. introductions, sets of open-ended questions, standardized presentations, responses to typical fears, concerns, and objections. etc. A sales team functions better when the coach creates the process steps, and teaches the use of the associated tools and skills which help the sales people reach their commission and income goals.
Finally, Building Teams creates a sales synergy greater than a group of individuals.
High performance team meetings, celebration events, team planning and review sessions, sales team training, and team goals are all examples of tools that make this coaching stage a reality.
When team members help each other “off camera” - meaning they call each other with encouragement or advice, then a sales managers effort multiplies in productive output.
A sales team board, strategy sessions, and other important teaming events combine to help the individuals excel. This teaming focus also carries over into the treatment of service, installation, and customer care representatives and administrative staff.
Great sales managers, as with individuals, learn to read ‘team tension.” They find ways to manage stress to productive levels - to bring a balance between encouragement and the effort toward goal achievement.
Knowing people, managing processes, and building teams are stages for best practice coaching. Each one connects to the other and together they make up an organized framework. We must know people well as individuals to coach them well. And, it’s better to coach and teach people a process rather than beat them up for results. Then, together, we can improve a process and the use of its skills and tools. When we do this the entire system improves itself. Sales and incomes rise. Now, go and make things better. You can do it. Lance.