How To Coach With Feedback That Actually Works

Coaching is integral to any team—including sales teams. When sales leaders develop effective coaching programs, they can help their sales reps reach their full potential. Despite the importance of regular sales coaching, some leaders fall short. They either ignore the problem until their poor-performing sales reps resign in frustration or their top performers leave because they are tired of picking up the slack, according to bestselling author, Diana Booher.

The best way to provide feedback, she says, is to teach team members how to assess their own performance. This way feedback flows naturally, and performance improves. Want to know how to have better sales coaching conversations? Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, where we share Booher’s top tips.

Start a casual conversation. Instead of inviting a sales rep to a formal meeting to discuss their performance, catch up with them after a team meeting. Whether it’s a video meeting or you’re walking back from the conference room, the idea is to make it casual. Booher recommends asking open-ended questions like, “How do you think the last pitch went? Did you get the sense the buyer understands how the campaign will work?”

Ask about lessons learned. When a sales rep’s performance is subpar, be cautious about lecturing them about how they are failing. It’s better to ask the employee what they have learned through the past few weeks or months. Booher says you could say something like, “What do you think you’ll do differently at your next pitch?” Then listen to them elaborate on what they want to do differently.

Offer your input. It takes self-awareness to know when improvement is needed. That’s why it’s often helpful to add your own observations, says Booher. She recommends saying, “I agree what you said about …” and then adding “I think you have identified the trouble spots and you have the right approach for next time.” This is important because you are giving credit to the employee for identifying and correcting their actions.

Be direct, clear and optimistic about the future. For sales coaching to be effective, you can’t sugarcoat things. If a sales rep isn’t living up to expectations, you need to address it. To do this, Booher suggests focusing on the future rather than dredging up the past. You can end the conversation by looking forward to the changes or improvements the team member will be making in the process, situation or performance. Providing direct feedback may feel uncomfortable, but that’s the only way you can guide your sales reps forward and help them improve.

Your sales team needs frequent coaching to win more business and secure more victories. Instead of letting issues slide, think about how you can casually chat with your under-performing reps. When you get to know their perspective and offer your own guidance, you can often help them get back on track.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of 49 books. She helps organizations to communicate clearly and leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence.

filed under April 2021
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