It is an interesting fact that in my experience the people who push back hardest, when it comes to learning about sales coaching, are sales managers, who have been successful salespeople.
That was my reaction when I was first asked by my CEO to engage an external sales coach to help me coach and train the team. I was genuinely angry. I saw it as a personal affront. What did it mean? Was my CEO doubting my ability to coach my team? Or so, the story grew (in my head).
But, the truth is although I had excelled in selling. I had never been trained to be a sales manager. Often my default was just to do what my sales team were supposed to do. The selling.
So, when I hear business owners or sales leaders from a non-sales background ask the question “how can I coach a sales team Ronan, I’m an engineer”. My first question back is always “are you open to learning”?
My first lesson could be yours too
The first thing I learned is that I am NOT the Chief Problem Solver. And neither should you be. In other words, you don’t have to have all of the answers. When it came to managing people I lacked knowledge and experience.
Sales coaching is not about telling. It is about engaging others and get them thinking.
It is best explained by using a sporting analogy. Both my kids play rugby and most business coaching has its roots in sports coaching, so, I’ll use rugby as an example.
The Chief Problem Solver screams from the touchline. Stand there, do that, don’t make that tackle, run here, jump there.
The Coach focuses on getting the player to think for themselves. “When the ball is coming at you, where should you be standing, what is your best position, what should you be looking for, where should your hands be positioned”?
Questions like these encourage self-analysis and learning.
I learned from my coach that when you tell somebody what to do you have a less than 30% chance, they will do it. When you coach them, by posing a challenging question, which gets them to come up with their answers. You have a 70% chance they will do it. I will take those odds any day.
So, you don’t have to have all of the answers. You just need to ask the right questions. And that is a leadership skill, not a sales skill.
The other advantage that you have is that your non-sales background gives you an unfiltered view of how to be successful in sales today.
Too many sales managers who have strong sales backgrounds try to impose their Sales Processes and sales approaches on their team.
Been there and done that.
What worked five years ago, may not and probably will not work today. The world of sales and selling is changing more rapidly than ever seen before. Sales coaches must be learners. They must be aware of current trends, new technologies and new Sales Processes.
It is not sufficient to foist outdated approaches on your sales team.
If you are from a non-sales background, you don’t bring these filters and biases. But, you must develop a learning mentality that ensures you will study best practice.
Focus on creating the right sales infrastructure.
Right Plan + Right Process + Right Systems + Right Technologies + Right Coaching Systems = More Sales. More Consistently. In Less Time
Sales coaching is effective when you have the right sales infrastructure in place. And I believe this is where you should start.
You must have a written sales plan in place for your organisation. You must align it with your sales strategy. Be clear on where you play and who your Sweet Spot Client is.
You have a clear advantage here with your engineering background. You naturally embrace the process. You know it works.
Too many sales managers mistakenly design their sales process around how they used to sell. You won’t. You will use the PROCURES approach to building a Sales Process. And it will be aligned with how people buy.
Once again you can have an advantage here. You don’t have legacy issues. You are not hung up on “favoured systems or methodologies”. You can be objective and simply ask “what are the best systems for our sales team needs, our sales process and our revenue goals”?
You guessed it; you can have an edge here too. Too many sales managers are hooked on their favourite CRM systems or technologies. Or do not continuously scan their environment to find new technologies that free up more selling time for their salespeople. You can change that.
Right Coaching Systems
Now you are at the point where you can implement the right coaching systems. You have a robust sales infrastructure. You are in a position to deliver sales coaching with impact.
In upcoming blogs, I will outline how you can use your sales infrastructure as your base for ongoing sales coaching and performance management.
I guarantee you that your engineering background coupled with your learning mindset is an excellent formula for becoming a sales coach.
Ronan is the “Sales Infrastructure Guy”. Helping high growth tech companies build world-class sales systems and processes that scale.
Call me on +353(86) 7732201
Ronan Kilroy | Insthinktive Sales Leadership Ltd. | Blanchardstown, | Dublin 15, | Office 01 8220523
More Sales, More Consistently, In Less Time