I was delighted recently when a senior manager described the work I was doing with his sales team as “driving the right behavioural change” across the business. After all, isn’t that why you do any kind of sales training? Not simply to equip the sales team with the right skills, but also to ensure they are being employed effectively?
A good example of this is when you give your sales people all the skills to make effective calls but it’s when they actually pick the phone up with confidence that you start to get the real return on your training. Interestingly though it wasn’t sales training, but a sales coaching programme, we were doing; and it’s something we’ve noticed is growing in demand.
By focusing on the individual’s specific needs rather than the team’s as a whole coaching can make the difference with things being applied on the ground, and that’s the key to boosting performance levels. This is making coaching increasingly popular, either in its own right or as part of a blended learning programme; alongside training, webinars and e-Learning.
However, people often think that coaching is expensive compared to group training and is more relevant for senior leaders than sales people or managers. So how can you assess the value of coaching to prove it is delivering the required return on your investment?
We’ve identified three critical factors that help from coaching we’ve done:
A learning and development manager I was working with recently told me that he found it very difficult to pin down the precise value of coaching. We’ve found that this is often because there aren’t clear objectives to measure progress against. Identifying business objectives, such as increasing the sales team’s skill in prospecting coupled with individual objectives, such as having more confidence in picking up the phone, makes it easier to measure what you get out of it. We’ve found that setting and agreeing goals before you start coaching helps accelerate development and results in a greater impact on the individuals and the business.
Being agile is critical in today’s rapidly changing environment – a coaching programme can flex rapidly to respond to the changing demands of your individual salespeople and your business. New market conditions could require a different sales approach, such as Demand Shaping, to give your business an edge over your competition. Coaching is agile and responsive and so can help identify new barriers to success. Building them into the aims of the coaching programme will make overcoming them much more likely for your team.
The feedback we get demonstrates that challenge is also an essential ingredient in any coaching programme. Working with Sales Directors and Sales Managers, we often find the biggest challenge for them is making the step change from being sales experts to strategic leaders. Increasing their capacity to make this move has generated some great results for our clients with one saying “I can now delegate more effectively and have better organisational skills, which has led to the sales team evolving significantly. We’re now applying our skills much more effectively and convincingly across the sales process.