Coach with Team-building in Mind

December 15, 2015

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Based on the book  Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach by Linda Richardson, this is the sixth post in a series that summarizes the key themes of the books and highlights best practices. In the previous post we outlined three main approaches to sales coaching. In this post, we cover best practices for holding sales meetings and coaching your team.

While one-on-one sales coaching is important, you also want to develop and improve your team’s overall performance. And that means you must also meet with your reps as a team. The key is to structure and hold meetings that sales reps come to view as a valuable use of their time. To that end, the book recommends the following steps:

  1. Determine your goals.

Define meeting objectives before you actually meet to keep the meeting on track.

  1. Prepare and share an agenda.

Translate your meeting objectives into a bulleted agenda outlining topics for the meeting and share this with the team ahead of time. At the end of each meeting, solicit input from your salespeople about the agenda for the next meeting. By incorporating their suggestions, you increase the likelihood of their participation and buy-in.

  1. Review the agenda.

At the start of each meeting, check the agenda and ask if anyone has questions about it. Give a guideline for the amount of time you’ll spend on each topic.

  1. Stay focused.

Guide all reps to stick to the agenda and keep the meeting moving along by moving through each point as quickly as possible. Suggest that new topics be covered in the next meeting.

  1. Acknowledge each agenda item.

Introduce each topic, solicit discussion and questions, decide what action will be taken, and summarize before moving on to the next topic. The book offers the following ways to encourage participation:

  • Ask open-ended questions. “What are effective ways you’ve moved past gatekeepers?” “How have customers responded when you’ve called them to discuss…?”
  • Volley questions. If your salespeople direct their questions and ideas to you, redirect back to the team. “That’s a great point. What do the rest of you think of that idea?”
  • Elicit many views. After one salesperson answers a question, ask others to share their views.
  • Ask why. Spark deeper discussions by following up on responses with “Why is that?”
  • Refrain from immediate judgment. If someone shares something that is off the mark, don’t simply reject it out of hand. Instead get others to chime in by saying, “That’s one possibility. What are some other options?”
  • Round-robin. To kick-start discussions, ask one rep to begin and then go around asking for from each team member.
  • Role play. Instead of simply discussing a problem or challenge, assign roles (i.e., sales rep, customer, partner) and have your reps work through a scenario.
  • Keep it team focused. If one person is dominating the discussion, invite others to add their thoughts.
  1. Create decision minutes.

Assign someone to track decisions made, who is accountable for the decisions, and the time frames for action. At the end of the meeting, ask that person to read the minutes aloud to ensure everyone is in agreement.

  1. Follow up.

After each meeting, follow up with your team and offer your support.

Check in soon for our next series on sales prospecting. In the meantime, sign up for our blog to stay in the know on this and other sales-related topics.

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