I had a coaching call today with a new sales manager. Like many he is new to the role and was recently a very successful salesperson. For today let’s put aside any discussion about why super star salespeople often don’t make great sales managers and focus on debriefing.
We role-played a conversation where I was the sales manager and he was the salesperson. When you assume their role it allows you to demonstrate where the conversation can go.
Sales managers have some common concerns about debriefing, including, will I be able to demonstrate value? What if I don’t find any problems we can discuss? What if I run out of questions? Will I sound natural? While this kind of non-supportive thinking affects new managers, in my experience is it affects us all whether we are the CEO, President, VP of Sales or National Sales Manager.
Remember this, the person you role-play with will always provide the necessary topics; you simply need to hear them articulated and ask a question about what they said. For example you hear the following. The meeting went well, we have a scheduled next call and they are committed to solving the problem. The key phrases are, went well, scheduled and committed. Using the magic words you learn in kindergarten you can ask:
- Who do you think may not agree the meeting went well?
- What does, went well mean?
- Why are they committed to solving their problem?
- Where is the problem having the most impact?
- When you scheduled the next meeting what expectations did you set?
- How do you know they are committed?
Every one of us is capable of this and ironically quite experienced whether we are new to sales management or not. Salespeople are trained to ask these kinds of questions. CEO’s or Presidents are constantly inspecting what they hear from others. Parents do this to find out what’s going on with their children. And yet, put us in the role of sales manager and we suddenly feel compelled to tell people what to do instead of helping them to discover it for themselves.
Effective on-going debriefing is critically important not just as a learning exercise but also as a mechanism to reset your opportunity strategy. By recapping the lessons and asking your salespeople or sales managers how and where they will apply the lesson you help make it stick.