Fortunately, the world of B2B Inside Sales has changed dramatically and basic sales management skills are no longer viable.
From sales management, all the way down to the sales representatives, techniques in sales coaching have changed for the better. When was the last time or have you ever even assessed your skills for sales management?
Where Sales Coaching Comes In
As someone stepping into sales management, your job is no longer to just write scripts to be followed word for word. Just like in sports, no play no matter how perfectly designed will unfold on the field like it did on the whiteboard. Sales coaching becomes a key item to focus on when thinking about ways to move the needle for the quarter.
Let’s break down the various elements of sales coaching that come into play in management. A skill that is arguably the most important when assessing your skills to step into sales management is taking an introspective look at where you land on these skills.
This will help you decide whether or not you are ready to take on the responsibility of leading a team of high-performing sales representatives.
Sales Coaching Break Down
- Objection Handling. Whether it is competitive, price, timing, the status quo, or any other reason why you are not able to take the next step, helping your reps drive action may be the most important thing you can help develop. My advice… go watch Inception and consider how that movie can be applied to your team’s strategy for handling objections. Plant an idea in their head and make them think it was theirs all along.
- Time Management. This one is especially tricky with the majority of B2B sales representatives working from home now. Leverage data from various tools like SalesLoft to help reps mark slots in the calendar for certain activities. If you know that the majority of prospecting emails are opened on Wednesdays from 8-10am, make that a calling block with your team so they know what to focus on and do it with them! Get in the trenches.
- Emotional EQ. The rollercoaster of sales is not for everyone, especially when it comes to objection handling with prospects. Helping your team develop techniques for handling the ups and downs of sales could be a top driver of your success. Knowing what motivates each member individually will help you move their mental state to a better place after a loss when trying to implement new sales coaching techniques.
- Situational Awareness. Who is on the call, what information am I missing to commit this opportunity, and has the tone of voice or the common facial expressions of my prospect changed recently? When it comes to inside sales we don’t have the advantage of being in the same room as our prospects, so knowing how to read everyone’s body language, while also understanding the holistic opportunity picture is something that takes time to develop. Help your reps by focusing on those factors for a month in 2021.
- Sales Techniques/Strategies. SPIN Selling, Challenger Sale, Sandler. Unlike the world of Stratton Oakmont, B2B sales today are not a one size fits all approach. Anyone stepping into sales management with the expectation that one technique will work for all opportunities is quickly going to recognize failure. To be successful in sales coaching, be sure to be a student of all the different methodologies.
- Sales Tools. In the Abstrakt Podkast with Skip Miller, he talked about “Accelerating the Suck”. Of all the automation available to reps today, anyone in sales management needs to understand which tools fit where and fill gaps not only in productivity but also in enablement. Sales representatives can book 10x more meetings, but if they don’t know how to handle the meetings, then what has been accomplished?
What Environment is the Ideal Sales Management Environment for You?
A sales manager should absolutely be synonymous with a sales coach in my opinion. When looking at a sales representative, as a manager your thought needs to be “Is this someone I need to mentor, supervise or manage?” If as a sales leader you want to supervise or manage, then absolutely build your team around dial and meeting metrics.
If you want to crush your quota every month, build a team of sales representatives that you can mentor by helping expose new ideas and prompting new ways of engaging with your prospects. It becomes your job to create an environment that facilitates unique and sophisticated approaches to driving urgency and winning in competitive situations.
One thing that worked really well for me when leading my first sales team was to start “Workshop Wednesdays”. Each Wednesday I would ask one member of the team to present a topic of interest that could be related to sales in some way. Some of the techniques I deploy today when coaching my sales representatives I learned from members of my team, many years ago. A few that stand out are:
- Inoculation Effect
- Lateral Thinking
- Objection Handling
Dig into What the Data is NOT Showing
Sales representatives and sales leaders can look into their various dashboards to track activity. That is nothing new.If you want to review the objection handling from your newest reps, all of the data is there. For anyone who wants to be successful in sales management the key is to dig into what the data is not showing and help the Sales Representatives on your team to be better across the board.
In closing, I think the hardest lesson I learned stepping into sales management was that what worked to get me to quota, isn’t going to work for everyone else… it likely won’t. My personality is unique to me and asking my reps to be like me resulted in very poor results and frustrated reps.
Let your rep’s personality shine through, and create an environment where your sales representatives can shine