This section will provide instruction for sales coaching in the following areas:
1. Understand the flow of the coaching process.
2. Build and use checklists to help define "what" to coach.
3. Know how to prepare for coaching with the "quick coaching analysis."
4. Know how to conduct three types of coaching sessions:
• Formal CoachingM.
• Curb Side Coaching
• Peer-to-Peer Coaching
5. Learn to use the “Interim Action Plan" to document coaching sessions.
THE SALES COACH DEFINED
The primary responsibility and definition of a sales manager is to obtain results through the efforts of others. Sales oriented efforts are those activities, processes, applied knowledge and skills that must be present to cause sales to occur.
When performance is not what is anticipated, either through low performance or by not living up to potential, then it is our responsibility as sales managers to diagnose the problem.
In order to diagnose the problem, two initial challenges become evident:
1. What are the critical competencies necessary to be successful in our selling environment?
2. Which of these competencies are the lower performers missing or weak in?
With the rapid changes in the market place, the number and types of skilled competencies necessary to sell in a highly competitive market has grown from approximately 75 in 1987 to 204 in 1994.
WHAT TO COACH
The use of a check list is important for coaching.
Using these, or check lists of your own making, you will then know what to coach. They will also help you be consistent in your coaching activities. They are very similar to a play book" used by professional sports teams.
The next step is to turn our attention on how to coach
HOW TO COACH
Coaching can be done in a number of ways. The most popular include:
A. Formal coaching session
B. Curb-side coaching
C. Peer-to-peer coaching
Regardless of which method you use, the steps of the actual coaching are the same. In the following sections we will focus on the formal coaching method.
Keep in mind that coaching is done not only to correct behaviors and attitudes that interfere with excelling in the job, but also to make good ones great.
FOCUS ON PERFORMANCE NOT THE PERSON!
The coaching process should be taken very seriously and a well planned event. There are certain things that should be done and certain things that should not be done:
Make Descriptive, Non-Evaluative Statements.
Being non-judgmental or descriptive means no evaluation or accusation is intended or made.
Being judgmental, evaluative, or accusative, attacks the individual. The difference is to describe the events, not evaluate them.
SETTING AN APPOINTMENT
Simply describe the agenda for the meeting in a non-judgmental fashion. Don't go into details now unless you have sufficient time to complete the coaching session.
Descriptive Examples Judgmental Examples
I would like to set a meeting with you to review your strategic sales plans on your top 30 prospects.
Jack, I would like to meet with you about the time you arrive at meetings. When do you have an opening in your schedule this afternoon? You don't plan very well. I want to talk with you about your skills in this area.
Jack, you're always late for meetings and I've had it with you. See me at 3 and you'd better not be late.
OPENING THE COACHING SESSION
Opening the meeting, like setting the appointment, can and does set the tone for the entire interaction. Get to the point. Small talk only tends to increase anxiety.
The key is to assume an objective problem-solving attitude. Coaching is not a “chewing out" session. Simply use a pleasant, yet serious, greeting, then describe the purpose of the meeting.
Descriptive Examples Judgmental Examples
Hi Jack, please come in and have a seat. As I mentioned to you at the end of this morning's meeting, I'd like to talk with you about the time you've been arriving for the weekly staff meetings. Have a seat and help me understand why you're always late to staff meetings.
Using your real life example, how will you set the coaching appointment and open the meeting using descriptive statements and examples?
Set the Appointment Open the Meeting
GETTING AN AGREEMENT
Getting agreement that a particular behavior needs improving or changing is a step many managers tend to skip because they feel the person knows where he/she needs work. This is a big mistake.
If you are working with a problem behavior, most managers spend half to two-thirds of the meeting just to get agreement that a problem exists.
In defining or specifying what the appropriate or improved behavior should be include such things as:
1. Description of appropriate behavior/activities
2. Frequency they should occur
3. Time frame in which they should occur
4. Level of proficiency at which they should be done
5. Resources available to perform
This level of specificity allows you to clearly compare with the person's actual behavior.
Using your real life example from before, define the desired behavior.
DEFINE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR
ASKING vs TELLING
Don't Tell ... Ask
Your role is to Ask (not tell) the person how he/she is going to go about changing the behavior. If you tell, then it's your idea, you implement it. If the person comes up with the solution and action plan, then its his/her idea and he/she is motivated to make it happen.
Seeking ideas requires that you simply ask questions to explore alternative ways of causing a change to occur.
What are some ways in which you could make this change (solve this problem)?
That's an idea, how would that work?
When would you start?
Okay, that's one good possibility. What's another way you might go about solving it?
Well, that idea is a possibility. What's another way?
GETTING A COMMITMENT TO ACT
This step involves:
Asking" the person to choose which idea(s) he/she will implement and when.
If the ideas are within policy and procedure, then the manager should not choose for the person. It is always good management practice not to solve problems that are rightfully the person's to solve. Whenever an person comes to you with a problem, ask them to recommend to you ways to solve the problem.
When they come to you with solutions, your job is simply to check them against policies or procedures that the person wouldn't have access to.
If the optional solutions meet within the guidelines, then ask the person to select the one that he/she would prefer. Then, tell them to implement.
CREATING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
When you add an emotion to a belief you create an attitude. You may have successfully put a positive belief in place with the person. But, beliefs can be easily changed with new or credible contradictory information.
However, attitudes are very resistant to change - even in the face of new or credible contradictory information.
You create attitudes by challenging the prospect with a form of the word "WHY."
Belief + Emotion = Attitude
The "why" question causes people to defend their action, statement or position. The word "why" elicits the defense emotions. Challenging the prospect with "why" causes him or her to generate and rehearse defenses for the action or decision. Doing this while you are with him or her enables you to support and reinforce the efforts.
You'll also uncover primary motivational benefits important to the person. The benefits we tend to focus on are those that are important to us, rather than the ones that are important to others. The only way we can know which benefits are important to the person is to ask.
Note that aside from the benefits they will tell you, there often will be highly personal benefits they won't tell you.
In addition to what we've talked about, what other value would you get by following through with your plan?
What other benefits do you see getting as a result of this?
How will your husband/wife benefit from you completing this?
Always challenge behavior you want to increase in frequency and intensity. Never challenge behavior you don't want.
WRITE IT DOWN!
With a few exceptions, after a short period of time, most of what was said will be forgotten. What will be remembered about this historical event will be individually flavored, distorted recollections. You will have your version, and the subordinate will have his/hers. When an agreed upon action does not occur, and you move to evoke the consequences, you will have a difficult time enforcing those consequences.
If you are going to put yourself and the subordinate through the potentially traumatic event of a coaching session, then it is worth the effort to make sure it is in writing. Both you and the subordinate should have a copy - signed and dated by both of you.
If you have carbon less paper available to you, this works very well. If not, before the person leaves your office, make copies on the machine.
The plan should include:
1. Desired behavior written as a measurable, time-limited goal to achieve.
2. Detailed step-by-step plan of what will happen, when it will happen, and with what resources.
3. Measurable milestones and final results.
4. Follow up time scheduled to determine the extent to which the goal has been accomplished.
5. Positive or negative consequences that will occur as a result of completing or not completing the action plan.
SET A FOLLOW UP DATE
Unless you follow-up as planned, the person will get the clear message that this so called Aproblem" was no big thing after all. When you set a follow-up it becomes a part of the written plan and agreement.
State clearly what the follow up will consist of.
Understand who will do what and when.
Document in your calendar, with the person observing.
Finally, sincerely thank the person for his/her efforts and participation. Compliment them on their courage to stick in there and work this all the way through.
Praise Progress or Evoke Consequences
Behavior is the result of the consequences, real or imagined, past, present, or anticipated. In many instances, it is not possible for someone to immediately change an inappropriate behavior to one of perfection.
Therefore, we must be prepared to recognize any achievement toward the goal. In this way, we begin to "shape" behavior by reinforcing successive approximations of the desired behavior. At the follow up, find some positive movement toward the desired behavior to reinforce.
Following through with consequences
When it becomes clear that behavioral change is not forthcoming, it is time to invoke the consequences.
You have probably experienced someone not doing what they said they would do, and as a result, you were disappointed. For you not to do what you said you would leads to more than disappointment. Because of your position of responsibility and authority, when you set limits, they must be enforced or you will create distrust and insecurity.
Invoking the consequences does not necessarily mean "all" of them at once. You may schedule them out over some agreed upon time frame, or tie them to one or more of the milestones and follow up points you have established.
THE COACHING CHECKLIST
Coaching Check List
A. Describe the behavior to be changed.
B. Define appropriate or desired behavior.
C. Establish (+/-) Consequences.
Benefits to be:
D. Check list Empowerment... Ask how he/she will cause the change.
Excuses... Ask how he/she will set priorities.
Getting Commitment... Ask which idea he/she will implement.
Write down solution and action plan:
• Measurable, time-limited goal
• Action plan with time and resources identified
• Measurable milestones and results
Follow up meeting scheduled:
• Recognize achievements
• Evoke consequences