Effective Sales Coaching vs. Pretend Coaching

I know that you expect me to tell you “How to be a Sales Rock Star in 2013“, but a client asked me to re-read “4 Steps to Metrics-Driven Sales Coaching“. Now, I already commented on Mark’s article, but I had a point that I wanted to emphasize.

When I used to teach salespeople how to apply Baseline Selling to their sales process, I used to explain that we use a baseball diamond because in baseball, you can’t skip a base or you’re out. If you don’t make it all the way to a base, you must go back to the prior base before you are tagged out and that although there are 4 major bases (benchmarks in the sales process), there are a series of steps that are taken along each base path that you need to take in order to earn the base.
Coaching fails because many coaches spend most of their time in the fantasy world of the salesperson’s ‘what-if’ mind. They spend their time talking about stuff that never happened and probably never could happen. Let’s go back to baseball.
If a runner gets tagged out sliding into third base. his coach need to ask questions about how he slid, why he slid, whether or not he should have left second. The coach and the player probably don’t need to debrief hitting the ball or any part of getting to second (unless they need to address rounding second on the way to third). They also don’t need to talk about what they would do once they reach third. That’s fiction. Didn’t happen and couldn’t happen given the current scenario.
But sales coaches all around the world continue coaching all the way through to the close and they’re wasting their time. I had a client who is now very successful. When he was a client, he called me on the way to his sales calls and we spent a few minutes ‘getting ready’. We focused on what we knew and what we needed to know. We developed several high level, big picture questions that we could lead with to start a drill down and that was it. We couldn’t practice the close because we didn’t know why this prospect would buy. So, pre-call strategization is strictly developing those high level questions. That same client would also call me immediately after the call and we’d debrief. I’d ask where they ended up, then I’d ask what happened before that and before that and before that until I knew where the process got off track. Then we’d fix that. Coaching is simple when it’s offered at the right time and aimed at one specific need. Fix that. Move on.
Want to talk about 2013? Get on my calendar. (no charge)

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