This post was originally published by Jenny Boling on lessonly.com.
Is it your fault if you’re a bad seller? Well, it depends. If you’re knowingly in a sales role just for the cash, but you don’t really care about helping customers and prospects solve their problems, then you’re in the wrong business. If you’re trying to do right by the customer, but you lack the skills and know-how, then there are plenty of ways to grow and improve.
When building a sales team, it’s not uncommon for companies to hit a wall. New industry trends, flashy competitors, failing processes, and dozens of other reasons can cause your sales team’s performance to dip. But there’s good news—this type of road block can be used as fuel to improve. And, a great place to start is with sales performance coaching.
Put me in, coach
“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”
For the fictional players of Friday Night Lights, Coach Taylor’s iconic words have heralded victory more than a few times. For fans of the show, his pre-game speech is a reminder of the impact a great coach can have.
Plain and simple, the best coaches empower their teams to win. Sales performance coaching requires a specific standard for performance, and that is where your sales process comes in. However, reps need their coach to help them execute it well, which requires reinforcement and repetition. That’s why you need to run the plays over and over with your reps until it becomes second nature.
For sales reps, sales coaching training provides the space needed to address gaps in core competencies. The process of self-discovery can be difficult to achieve in group settings. That’s because some reps may hesitate to openly share failures or top sellers may take over the conversation. But with coaching for sales performance a coach can provide reps with tailor-made sales coaching tips. This also gives each rep the space needed to explore areas of improvement and guidance to make meaningful change—and ultimately unlock better performance. But what if just the coach isn’t enough? That’s why we swear by a trusty skills matrix template.
Next down: create skills matrix template
So, how do you know what skills your sales team possess and what skills individual reps need to develop? A skills matrix is a great tool to map out the skills your sales force already has. Once you’ve listed each rep’s skillsets, you’ll be able to easily see at glance where there are gaps in skills.
Your skills matrix template for sales reps might include:
- Email sales: Written communication and reading comprehension.
- Phone sales: Verbal communication, empathy, ability to listen.
- Problem-solving: Finding unique solutions, innovative thinking, finding a way to please the customer, adjusting to a more digitally-driven sales climate.
Your matrix may also rate each employee on general mastery of an overall skill, or break things down into specific components. For example, is one rep great at phone sales and cold calls, but not a great problem-solver? How much better would their productivity be if they could increase “problem-solving” skills as well? Once you’ve identified a specific skill for improvement, you’ll be able to deliver additional training and coaching to bring a rep up-to-speed.
Sellers + skills matrix + individual sales coaching = a winning playbook
So, when it comes to leading a sales rep to success, every winning playbook needs to feature a sales coaching tool, like a skills matrix, and a personalized sales coaching plan. But remember, for this combination to really work, both coaches and sales reps need to understand the importance and benefits of sales coaching. We’ve found that effective sales coaching techniques include efforts like developing a plan together, identifying areas of strength together, and uncovering areas for improvement…together. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:
- Point out a talent or skill you see in them that perhaps they aren’t getting the most out of.
- Give an example of a time when they used this talent, even if they didn’t get the desired business.
- Brainstorm ways they can develop this skill and improve performance.
Once you’ve walked through these steps, ask your rep about the value they place on your support. How do they want you to help them? Once you understand their expectations, give them the support they need while allowing them the freedom to do their job.