WHAT IS OUTCOME-BASED SALES COACHING?
Outcome-based coaching sessions involve the sales manager beating on the sales person to close deals at all costs and usually feel like torture to the sales rep. The pressure puts the rep in the precarious position of pressuring the customer to make a decision before they might be ready, often by offering discounts or other concessions to get the deal closed. These discounts and concessions have a considerable impact on profitability. Outcome-based coaching may provide a very short-term impact but it cannot be sustainable and may even damage the organization in the future.
The alternative to outcome-based sales coaching is process-based sales coaching. As the name suggests, process-based sales coaching involves coaching a sales person to adopt a consistent, repeatable sales process that has been proven to lead to successful outcomes. Rather than pressuring the sales rep to close deals by a certain date, process-based sales coaching helps a sales person identify what they need to do in order to win a piece of business. It also helps the sales manager and the sales person to identify specialized resources from their organization to help overcome obstacles for success. This approach is highly collaborative and places accountability on the shoulders of the sales person to adopt new behaviors, leading to greater success.
Transitioning from outcome-based coaching to process-based coaching requires commitment from sales leadership and an investment in sales management. However, the benefits of more effective sales coaching pay dividends in higher productivity, less turnover and a better engaged sales force.
Most sales organizations, especially those that use a CRM (Customer Relationship Managemet) system, will probably have a sales process in place. However, the sales process may not truly reflect how their customers actually buy and what their sales people must do to pull buyers through their process. To update your sales process, start by gathering input from sales people, sales managers and customers. Simply ask each of these groups what they do over the course of a sale or a purchase. If you ask 10 people, you will probably get 10 different answers. However, you will also see a lot of commonalities. Start with the commonalities and then resolve the differences. When in doubt, let the customers’ responses guide the way.
Once the process, metrics, and system are in place, you can begin to train your sales managers to coach to the process. This includes helping sales managers identify signals that indicate a sales person is tracking behind the indicators, leading to a successful quarter or year. When sales managers can identify these red flags, they can focus their coaching specifically on behaviors or solutions that will be most helpful to the rep.
Since this focus is driven by data and not instinct, the process is much more objective. It increases the likelihood that a sales person will buy into discussion of the issue, taking ownership for the solution. A sales manager who can help a sales person come to their own realization about what they need to do differently will be much more successful than a sales manager who just directs a rep to work differently.
The final step of transitioning to process-based coaching is to establish a common sales coaching cadence across the organization. Most sales people are not entitled to much, but they are entitled to know that they’re going to have regular, scheduled and one-on-one coaching sessions.
These coaching sessions are designed to help them solve problems and be more successful, as opposed to getting beaten up and micro-managed. A sales coaching cadence tells sales managers when they will meet with their sales people for coaching.
The sales coaching cadence also let’s everyone know what will be covered in each meeting throughout the year, quarter and month, setting the expectation that they will be held accountable for coaching. Topics covered will change from week to week and will be set by sales leadership.
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