Almost every top performer has a coach whether it’s an individual like a golf pro or one of the many sports teams. The coach is there to help develop superior skills and get the best performance.
In the ideal sales world, you would have a sales manager who has the time, knowledge, and ability to be your personal coach. While I feel this is the job of the sales manager, many can’t do that job for a pile of reasons. Like the salespeople they manage, sales managers are in a constant time crunch and have to prioritize their activities and, while coaching is important, there are often more important priorities that need to be attended to.
In the absence of having your sales manager coach you, you must do it yourself.
Benefit of a Coach
There’s an old saying: if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Unfortunately, this is true in sales and there are thousands of salespeople wandering around the streets today getting worse. These people think they know it all and see no reason to keep their once sharp selling skills honed like a professional.
Professionals don’t rest on their laurels. Take the professional golfer who misses a ten-foot putt for a $100,000. Where do you think he is the next day? Certainly not sitting around feeling sorry for himself. He and his coach are probably out on the putting green refining his putting skills.
Basically, if you want to stay ahead of your game, be it sports or selling, you must constantly move forward or fall behind. This is where self-coaching can help.
Self-coaching needn’t be overly painful. It might seem that you’re tearing your guts out but that’s only if you’re being excessively hard on yourself.
There are some rules to be followed if you’re to effectively self-coach yourself. One way to minimize the pain and make the experience beneficial is to follow the rules.
Here are some of the keys to self-coaching.
1) Have the right attitude. You must be willing to grow and have a desire to be the best you can be. Be positive and be committed.
2) A major key to successful self-coaching is the ability to be objective and intensely honest with yourself. No self-delusions are allowed in self-coaching.
3) Maintain an open mind. Approach the project looking for ways to improve.
4) Learn from your missteps and mistakes. Be aware of your natural tendency to become defensive when things don’t go the way you want them to. Whatever happened, happened. Learn from it.
5) Become highly aware. Develop a split personality where one of you is making the sales call and the other one is watching the call being made.
6) Learn how to reflect on and deconstruct your experiences. After the call is over, think back on what happened, take the call apart and then put it back together again.
Use a Checklist
Create a Sales Call Checklist to help you with self-coaching. The Checklist is intended to act as your guide as to what to watch for when making a call.
Other points on how to use the checklist:
1) Use it as soon after the call as possible to review how you did.
2) Familiarize yourself with the list by reading it over several times before your call. That way you’ll have a sense of what you’re looking for when you’re making a call.
3) Don’t plan on using the checklist forever but commit to using it from time to time on a regular basis to eliminate bad habits before they become entrenched.
4) Use the checklist to identify potential problem areas and focus your self-improvement efforts of fine-tuning them.
5) Don’t give yourself a hard time if a call doesn’t go exactly the way you wanted it to go. As you are aware, selling is extremely dynamic and bad things can happen to good people. Use the call as a learning experience.
6) Above all, use it on a consistent basis to stay sharp.
Here is a novel use for the checklist. Use it as a pre-call checklist. Review it before making a call, not afterward. Just like professional pilots use a pre-takeoff checklist to make sure they don’t forget anything, the professional salesperson can use the pre-call checklist for essentially the same purposes.
Sales success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals. This checklist is your key to remembering the fundamentals of professional selling, so use it and coach yourself to long-term sales success.
For more information on sales coaching and training, please refer to The Right Skills.
Salesforce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm and registered Salesforce.com Consulting Partner based in Toronto, with offices in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, salesforce implementation, sales training and sales personnel assessments.