A Roadmap for Coaching Conversations

Posted on 11/17/2014 in Sales Coaching

Could you use a roadmap to help you get started or keep you on track for some of those intimidating coaching conversations?  

We don’t believe in scripts, but we do believe in the tremendous importance of following a process when coaching.  The examples below can serve as a model or a roadmap for your coaching conversations.  Modify the coaching conversation to fit your style and the specific salesperson.

Coaching Conversation Example 1 -  During a joint sales call you observed something that you see as a coaching opportunity:

  1. Always start with praise: "I really liked how you presented our recommendation to the customer, especially the benefits to the customer for making the switch to us.”
  2. Transition to stating the skill or topic to be coached, while still keeping a positive tone: "When the customer objected that they were happy with their current provider, I thought you handled it well. However, since this objection is a common one, I’d like to talk today with you on other ways to respond to this objection.”
  3. Ask questions to make  it a coaching dialogue (this is the most overlooked step so ask as many questions as possible to get the salesperson’s perspective, rather than telling him/her what to do):  Then ask a series of questions: "What worked well with the response that you used in today's sales call?" "Is there anything that you might have done differently?" "What about some of your other customers - how might you respond to a different customer, given a similar objection?"  Offer additional options or suggestions and ask for feedback to keep it a dialogue.
  4. Mutually agree on an action or next step: "When do you expect to make another sales call where a similar objections could come up? How about if we schedule some time to talk prior to that call?  Afterwards we can schedule a debrief when the call is over."
  5. End with a positive: "I’m glad that we talked about this. Don’t overlook all the other positive things that you did on today’s sales call.”

Coaching Conversation Example 2 - You are having a conversation with one of your salespeople and he or she asks for your advice on the following situation: 

  1. Always start with praise: "I am glad that you’re asking about this issue.” (suppose it is a new salesperson who is asking for your advice about ‘raising a price’) 
  2. Transition to stating the skill or topic to be coached, while still keeping a positive tone: "I’d like to spend some time with you to discuss some effective ways to implement a price increase.  Because you have such good natural skills, I’d like to hear your thoughts first.”
  3. Ask questions to make  it a coaching dialogue (this is the most overlooked step so ask as many questions as possible to get the salesperson’s perspective, rather than telling him/her what to do):  Then ask a series of questions: "Imagine that I am the customer. What would you communicate to me about the price increase?” (respond as a customer typically would)  "What would you say now?” "Think about one of your actual customers.  What would be a different way to raise prices with him/her?” Offer additional options or suggestions and ask for feedback to keep it a dialogue.
  4. Mutually agree on an action or next step: "When do you expect to make an actual sales call to raise prices?  How about if we schedule some time to talk prior to that call? And then we can debrief it when the call is over.”
  5. End with a positive: "I’m glad that we talked about this. I know that you haven’t raised prices yet with any customers but everything that you said today will help you do it well.
Coaching is the most important part of a sales manager's job. For additional coaching resources, read more Coaching Blogs, visit our Sales Meeting Kit pages and learn more about Coaching Services and Sales Management Workshops.   

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