If there was one thing that would make sales managers more successful it would be this: Sacrifice complexity for consistency; Adopt a "less is more" attitude and approach.
Results will be more evident when managers quit making sales coaching a "mile wide and an inch deep".
Here's the cycle we see: the coach identifies a host of sales opportunities in their branch and feels they have to coach all of them (mile wide). The sense of overwhelm and a lack of time drives them to do a superficial job of coaching any one thing (an inch deep). Because coaching all of these opportunities is so time consuming and a big deal, they coach less frequently than they should. When they do meet with their team they spend most of the time diagnosing what people are struggling with and not very much time actually coaching sales skill or activities that will actually improve performance. Because this activity is all so infrequent the manager typically finds themselves in coaching on a wild goose chase being led by staff into conversations that have nothing to do with developing their sales potential. The result? Very little gets accomplished, they run out of time, no action plan is laid out so there is no urgency to follow up. The only thing compelling the manager to meet with the team again is this nagging feeling that they should be coaching because someone told them once that is what good sales managers do. It's a negative spiral that keeps going downward until the coach stops coaching altogether because they are tired of staff trying to avoid the coaching sessions and because they are not seeing any results.
If a manager finds themselves in this spiral, we suggest they pick only one or two selling opportunities per group (Tellers, lenders etc) to actively coach. Develop a focused plan on how to improve skill and activity for those opportunities within a set amount of time.
This could be something simple like coaching a lender on what to say when I client tells them they have investments at another institution.
- Teach the team how to spot the opportunity and PRACTICE CONSISTENTLY what to ask and say to the client.
- Then, FOLLOW UP CONSISTENTLY to make sure they are saying it.
If the staff are not trying the techniques it is usually because:
- They do not know what to say
- They know what to say but are nervous about saying it (usually a hang up about sales)
- They refuse to try
Any of these three a coach can deal with if they methodically and consistently follow up on previously agreed to action plans. Because the coach hasn't bitten off more than they can chew they can be efficient with their time and therefore consistent. The consistent follow up and coaching leaves the staff no choice but to start trying the activity. Once the staff meet with success the cycle starts moving in a positive direction. The staff realize that they can be effective without being pushy. They develop the habit of asking the right questions and saying the right things for that opportunity, which means the manager has to coach them less. This eventually allows the coach to move on to new opportunities all-the-while spot checking the old habits to make sure they stay in play. Success breeds success and the staff start to see value in the coaching and sales meetings because they see it actually works!
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Sacrifice complexity for consistency and you'll make your job easier as a coach and help your people get better.
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