The Secret to Coaching Salespeople and Why It's So Scary 

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 @ 05:09 AM

If you have time to read only a single one of my articles this year, read this one on the great business disconnect that was published on LinkedIn.  You won't be sorry.  And if you want to see just how awful Microsoft's latest Office 2016 for Mac is, read this off-topic post here

I was speaking at the AA-ISP event in Boston earlier this month when I learned something very interesting about how sales leaders feel about coaching salespeople.  

I was leading a session on how to coach Inside Salespeople.  The session had the same components as I would normally include for showing sales leaders how to coach salespeople.  We discussed Shaping the Sales Environment, The Different types of Sales Coaching Conversations, the Importance of Role-Playing and then we listened to an actual coaching call.  Under normal circumstances, each of those topics would get at least an hour before reviewing actual calls.  Under the best of circumstances, like during my Sales Leadership Intensive, we spend the better part of two days.  At this event I had just 30 minutes...

So what is the surprising lesson I learned at this event?

I learned that the way in which sales leaders react to the exact same material differs exponentially in accordance with the time we have to discuss it.

After two days, testimonials suggest that my Sales Leadership Intensive is simply the best sales leadership training on the planet and that we cover the topic differently and more effectively than anyone, anywhere.

However, when we have only two hours, sales leaders like what we are sharing with them, but that's it.  They only like it.

And when we had only 30 minutes, sales leaders simply hated the exact same material.

I'm interested in what you think about that.  What do you make of it?

Of course, I have my own opinion.

The difference may be very similar to this ocean analogy:  In our two-day scenario, we slowly wade into the icy cold water, give our bodies plenty of time to acclimate, and gradually move deeper before going for a swim.  

In the 30-minute scenario, we are on a fast-moving motor boat when we are dropped into the icy cold, deep, dark sea without a life preserver or wet suit.

When getting "dropped in", sales coaching seemed difficult, scary and confrontational to the 30-minute gang.  When wading in and slowly acclimating, the two-day groups understand that while sales coaching may certainly be challenging, there is ample time for them to recognize how powerful it is and despite how different it may be from how they have coached in the past, there is plenty of time for them to get comfortable.

Why is sales coaching so difficult and for some, so scary?

In a word, Role-Playing.

You must be able to do what we do.  You must be handle any scenario, in any stage of the sales process, with any set of challenges, with the toughest prospect imaginable, and demonstrate through role-play how it would have sounded had your salesperson executed properly.  You must also be able to demonstrate how to solve any selling scenario that your salespeople find themselves in.  This isn't telling them what to do.  This isn't providing them with a strategy.  This is being able to conduct the sales side of the conversation and ask the right questions to get a desirable outcome.  It's hard.  We do it all day - every day - in 200 industries.  Sales Leaders must do this all day - every day - with each of their salespeople.

We can teach you how to do this.  If you would like to become really effective at coaching salespeople, I am hosting an overflow Sales Leadership Intensive for those who were unable to make the August dates work.  This will be a much smaller group, with more one-on-one attention.  The dates are October 13-14 outside of Boston. You can learn more here and register here.

My new eBook is also available.  63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales.  Free Download here.

Have I learned my lesson?  Not really.  On October 7, I'll be conducting a 45-minute Webinar on Sales Coaching that is sponsored and hosted by Handshake.  Stay tuned for more details.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, inside sales, sales management coaching, aa-isp

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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