Effectively Coach a Sales Rep
Edited by Derekkandler, Eng, Lynn, Christine dela Cruz and 1 other
The most important job you have as a sales manager is coaching your staff. Consistent, quality coaching drives up sales numbers, keeps your employees motivated and helps you hold them accountable when they are not producing. A good coaching session begins well before you sit down face-to-face with your sales rep. Use this guide to more effectively coach your sales team.
- 1 Different Types of Sales Approach
- 2 Top Qualities of a Good Sales Representative
- 3 Main Reasons Why Sales Representatives Fail
- 4 Steps
- 5 Tips
- 6 Tips and Hints on Cold Calling
- 7 Why Are Cold Calls Important?
- 8 How are Cold Calls Supposed to be Done
- 9 How to Effectively Handle Objections
- 10 The Science and Art of Persuasion
- 11 All About Negotiation
- 12 Comments
Different Types of Sales Approach
- 1The sales person acts as a friend to the customer to build rapport. Sales representatives who have a very light and jolly personality normally resolve to this approach because it works effectively for them. They usually are able to get as much information as they need from customers and then later on are able to use those information to create the need for the product or service.Friendly approach.
- 2This is most ideal for products which are rather technical. Therefore, the entire sales process relies on the detailed information being provided and there is not too much emotions involved in the process. Normally, sales representatives using this approach have been personally experienced in the industry of the product or service they are selling. For instance, if they are selling construction services, they are more often than not actually experienced in construction. These types of sales representatives are alternatively called as Technical Sales Engineers. They are experts in the product or service, yet they employ good sales tactics as well.Expert approach.
- 3This combines both friendly and expert approach. The sales representative is considered as an expert in the field and at the same time friendly enough to teach and give consultation to customers about the product. There is a lot of education involved here for the customers and there are a lot of two-way interactions involved where the customer asks a lot of specific questions and the sales representatives addresses them one by one.Consultative approach.
- 4This kind of approach causes buzz about the product or service in a certain community and through this buzz, it creates curiosity and then eventually desire to buy the product. Sales representatives taking this kind of approach are usually very outgoing and enjoys being in the middle of big groups.Network approach.
- 5This is the tough route to sales. There is a little bit of "intimidation" involved in which the sales representative positions himself higher and more authoritative compared to the customer. They are known to be too push and this is also the reason why a lot of people are rather turned off will sales representatives. This might work in some cases, but this will not work for long-term relationship. It might bring a sales representative one or two sales, but that should be it. The customer is not motivated to interact any further with the sales representative.Hard sell approach.
Top Qualities of a Good Sales Representative
- 1They don't look at being a sales representative as a job. Instead, they consider it like being a business person. They treat the company they work for as their own company.They have a good sense of ownership of the business.
- 2They don't believe in having "last" customers. Possibilities to get new customers and business are endless for them.They have developed a certain system of approaching and acquiring businesses and new customers step-by-step.
- 3There is no such thing as similar customers for them.They are able to listen well to their customers' needs and they use whatever information they get to be able to sell a fully customized solution to each of their clients.
- 4They like surprising customers with bonus products or services. They believe in establishing a good relationship to ensure them of long-term business.They always aim to exceed what they promised their customers.
- 5For instance, they will not attend a cocktail party for the mere purpose of enjoying. Instead, they use the opportunity to actually network and start establishing a relationship with potential customers.They are picky in terms of how they spend their time and they make sure that when they do, it is for something worthwhile and there is a reasonable return that they can get.
- 6They always want more sales all the time. They never get tired of continuously thinking of ways to generate more income.They never get satisfied with how well they do.
- 7They fully understand this is the most crucial first step that they should never miss out on. They don't mind the potential risk of loss, instead, they strive hard to make sure it won't turn out to be a loss.They invest a lot in activities that expose them to a lot of people.
- 8Sales is their life and a new contracts always give them a natural high.They don't see themselves doing another type of job than sales.
- 9Whatever the situation is, whether there's recession or economic downturn, they believe that an opportunity to sell is waiting for them somewhere. They strive hard to always find that no matter what.They don't believe in reported unfortunate events in the economy.
- 10For them, people who are negative are just making an excuse for themselves for being lazy.They mingle with achievers and are easily turned off by people who are too negative.
- 11Nothing is good enough and they always strive for another notch higher each time they get better.There is no such thing as "OK" for them.
- 12They see it as just part of their investment that will bring about outcomes later on. For them, there is no such a thing as a customer saying "no". Instead, it is in fact a "not yet". They believe all customers will be their customers, just not at the same time and not immediately.They are able to recover from failures quite easily because they actually don't look at them as failures.
- 13They will give up anything else for a potential sales meeting. There is no such thing as feeling sick or tired for them.They always find time for business opportunities.
- 14A complaint from a customer, for instance, is an opportunity for them to demonstrate good customer service that can bring about good and lasting relationship.They never look at issues as problems.
- 15They learn from achievers and push themselves to even be above them later on. They are always very competitive and hate being at the lower level of the list.They continuously develop themselves to be a better professional.
- 16They don't believe in management-imposed standards because they personally set much higher standards for themselves.
- 17They believe that they will only grow in their craft if they learn from every interaction that they have with customers.They like to follow their own strategies because these strategies are products of their previous failures and experiences.
- 18They know what they would like to achieve and no one else can dictate it to them.They hate being controlled because they don't need it.
- 19They spend all their time working on this. This is the air they breathe.They are way too obsessed about clients and business.
Main Reasons Why Sales Representatives Fail
- 1They do it hurriedly without considering that it will backfire to them long term. They eventually end up wasting their time on customers who are not keen to buy anyway in the first place because there is no need. Furthermore, because these customers are not prospected carefully, there is not much information about them with regards to their needs. Without much information, it is difficult to formulate an effective sales strategy to create a need.Ineffective and inefficient prospecting.
- 1Shadow your employee subtly, and watch three customer interactions from beginning to end. Make sure that you are not obvious about your observations. If your employee knows he is being watched, he behaves differently than when he thinks he is alone with the customer.Observe at least three interactions between the employee and customers.
- 2Pay attention to how your employee greets each customer. Listen for "buying signs" from the customer, and take note as to how your employee handles these indicators. If your employee makes a sale, observe whether there are any attempts to upsell a product or service. If the employee does not make a sale, make sure to write down the reason as to why it did not happen.Take notes on the interactions.
- 3Now that you have notes from three different customer interactions, it is time to find a common denominator. Pick an area of opportunity that was missed in all three interactions, such as not asking for the sale or not greeting the customer properly. Your coaching session needs to be focused on one specific action item to be effective.Find an area of opportunity.
- 4A line of questioning is a series of questions that helps guide your employee to recognize the area of opportunity himself. Start with a general question, such as "what could you have done differently?" Then move to more specific questions about the part of the interaction where you discovered the area of opportunity. You need to prepare at least five questions to make sure this is effective.Develop a line of questioning.
- 5An action plan needs to contain three things. The action plan needs to be specific, measurable and attainable. If your employee is not closing sales, for example, focusing on simply asking for the sale at the end of a conversation is an effective action plan. In this case, the specific action is asking for the sale. The measurable aspect of this is whether sales increase. Set a goal for a sales increase that is attainable to complete the action plan.Create an action plan for addressing the area of opportunity.
- 6Review your notes and decide on three positive observations you made during the interactions. It is critical in a coaching session that you praise your employee for what he is excelling at. This should be discussed at the beginning and end of the coaching discussion.Decide on three positive observations.
- 7This guideline serves as the discussion piece for your coaching session. Use the guideline as a reference point to help you keep the conversation on track, and take notes on it during the coaching session if necessary. Start your coaching guideline by writing down the three positive observations. Next, write down the area of opportunity. Beneath the area of opportunity, write down your line of questioning. Finally, write down the action plan.Write out a coaching guideline.
- 8Start the discussion with your employee by telling him which interactions you witnessed. Briefly go over why the customer came into the store and what the outcome was.Sit your employee down for the coaching session.
- 9Ask your employee what he thinks went well in those situations. When he is finished, reinforce what he said, and then praise him for the three items you have written down. This gets the conversation rolling and puts your employee in good spirits.Discuss the positive observations.
- 10Ask your employee what he thinks could have been done differently. If he does not mention the area of opportunity that you want to focus on, begin your line of questioning to help him get there. If he does mention the area of opportunity, acknowledge that you observed it as well, and state that it is the area you want to focus on.Execute your line of questioning.
- 11Once the area of opportunity is brought into the conversation, the next step is laying out the action plan. Tell your employee what action he needs to take to address the area of opportunity. Layout the action, and discuss why the action is a benefit to the employee. Next, discuss the goal, its attainability and how it is being measured.Discuss the action plan.
- 12The area of opportunity and action plan portion of a coaching session is meant to break down your employee constructively and critically. Make sure to build him back up at the end of the discussion by reinforcing the positive aspects of the interactions you witnessed. Your employee needs to walk out of your office on a positive note, and with a smile on his face.Reinforce the positive observations.
- Role play coaching sessions with fellow managers to become more comfortable with the difficult aspects of the discussion. Disgruntled or angry employees are harder to coach, and practicing is the only real way to prepare. Have the person who is being the employee in the role play be as difficult as possible. Practicing worst case scenarios makes real coaching sessions much easier.
- Get your employee to discover the area of opportunity himself. This is a very important part of the discussion. When your employee admits to his faults, he is more receptive to the action plan. He is also much more likely to follow through and produce positive results.
- Coach everyone. The best sales rep on your team needs to be coached just as much as the worst. There is always room for improvement, and even top sales reps appreciate the sales increase that they see from effective coaching.
- Save your coaching guides. Your coaching guides are very useful for follow up situations. Use them to review past areas of opportunity that have been improved upon when giving praise, or for justification when having to hand out corrective action.
Tips and Hints on Cold Calling
Cold calling is such a daunting task, but overall necessary, to do in sales. Without this very first step, further success in sales is impossible. However, it is very normal that there are fears and pressure always associated with cold calling.
The following are the usual worries in doing a cold call:
- 1A lot of sales representatives fear either talking too much or talking too little, without any substance, during a cold call. A cold call is normally a very short talk over the phone, so you really have to make sure that you say only the right words in such a short period of time.What is the right thing to say?
- 2This is the ultimate fear in cold call. What if, after the end of the pitch, you get nothing. Of course, cold calls are done for the main reason that you are taking the first step in making a sale. This is the reason that sales representatives fear that nothing will actually come out of the conversation or that they would not be given an opportunity to move on to the next step in the sales process.What if the person on the other side of the phone ends up not liking what I say?
- 3Cold calls are named cold calls mainly because it is done without any appointments. There is indeed a high likelihood that you end up not being able to talk to the person on target. Or maybe the person is there but he or she has just been so tired receiving calls from all other sales representatives that she could not take any further call. Whether you like it or not, this is reality. You are not the only one who has called so far. Therefore, the key thing here is how to make yourself sound unique and interesting enough so that the client will decide to continue to talk to you further.What if the client is not available to talk?
- 4This is another reality that must be accepted in cold calling. In fact, that's why it is always being said that cold calling is the only part of sales that is most prone to rejections. It is very important that a sales representative is able to move on right away after this rejection and immediately move on to the next in the list.What if the client just hangs up?
Why Are Cold Calls Important?
Cold calls are an inevitable aspect of sales, whether you do in-shop sales or field sales. At some point in your job, you will have to do cold calls. This is also done whatever the product is. Given this, since this is obviously something in sales that cannot be skipped nor completely omitted, it is definitely best to understand why these calls are important.
- 1Without a cold call, there's nowhere to use a sales approach to. This sets your food on the ground for further discussion with the potential client.It begins all possible types of sales approaches.
- 2As you may already know, cold calling is one of the most dreaded tasks in sales. Therefore, if you work harder on this, and your direct competitors are slowing down, then you're creating a better edge for yourself already.It is an opportunity for you to do better than the other sales representatives.
- 3If you don't contact your potential client, there is little chance for you to actually know if they might need you. In other words, if you don't' ask, you get nothing.It sets the ground for identification and creation of new business opportunities.
- 4As in any sales position, building relationship with clients is extremely important. By doing a cold call, you are not just one among many business cards. You are actually a business person with something good to offer to your clients. You start to build an impression of you, and it is important that this impression starts off good.It is the starting point of your relationship with the client.
- 5Proceeding to the next step of the sales process is not always the end result that you may want in a cold call. Even without being able to successfully request to move further, you end up with more information at hand, which is equally important in sales. No matter how long or short a cold call is, there would have been something that you learned through it.It allows you to understand the market better.
- 6Whether or not the client is interested to buy one now, he or she still adds up to your list of prospects. If he is not a potential client now, he could very well be in the future. Never decline a client as unimportant in your list.It adds up to your prospect list.
How are Cold Calls Supposed to be Done
- 1You should be able to answer these questions: Who are you going to look for? What is the role of that person in the company? When exactly is the best time to contact him?Plan ahead of time.
- Prepare a script and practice in delivering that script. As you know, a cold call occurs in a very short period of time. You wouldn't want to waste it with a poor delivery of your sales pitch. Make sure that you practice ahead of time so that you gain more confidence in actually saying it. If possible, practice using the telephone so that you start to get a real feel of how it may have been.
- Anticipate what the client may say to you and anticipate potential early objections. When you are prepared in this regard, you may be able to counter the objections more effectively.
- Determine exactly what the important points of your pitch are. Once you know this, mark them as something that must not be forgotten.
- Identify what kind of information you would like to gain from the call. As mentioned, a cold call is not supposed to give a one-way benefit only. You should also be able to gain some useful information from that experience.
- 2Do your homework prior to the cold call. There are plenty of sources of information out there. If you do this, this will create a huge difference in the quality of your call. You will not sound like all the other sales representative out there who are simply delivering a pitch. You will sound different because you have an armor of advance information which you can capitalize on later on to explain your services better. Know your target so that you will also know where you might be able to find information about the client. These are the most common areas that you can look at to gather information:Research before making a call.
- Google. A simple Google search of the name of your client might bring out some interesting results. Of course, there is a good likelihood that some names are similar, so try to be more specific in your search and link other relevant words to the name.
- Facebook. This is ideal if you are targeting an individual as your client. You would be able to get a glimpse of the potential client's tastes and preferences. At the same time, it can tell you something about the client's personal interests and hobbies, which might be good starting point for front talk later on during a face-to-face meeting. Some Facebook profiles are set to private, but as you search further, there will always be relevant information out there.
- Linkedin. This is most ideal if you are selling to a corporate client. Almost all professionals nowadays have Linkedin profiles. Here, you can see the person's role in the company as well as have an idea on the decision making ability of the person. In sales, it is very crucial to know who the decision maker is. For example, if you see that there is no one above the Purchasing Manager within the Purchasing Department, then it's a safe assumption that he has the ultimate power to decide on purchasing matters.
- 3Clients are often more open to sales representatives who share some common ground with them. For example, you may have attended the same school, or come from the same town in the province, or been a fan of the same football team. These common things will strengthen the foundation that you are building between you and the client. Note the following:Look for a possible personal connection.
- Almost all successful sales people believe in the fact that they are successful because of the quality of relationship they are able to form with their clients.
- Trust begins when you are able to find a common ground. It gives the client an indication that you have a similar background and it reveals a part of you as well which clients like. This gives them the feeling that you are open enough about yourself and they owe you the courtesy to be the same to you.
- When you are able to build a good relationship with a client you will later on not be selling. Instead, you are advising a friend of the benefits of a product or a service. You are simply giving an input to a friend as to why this might be a good purchase. In other words, you automatically put yourself as an equal or even above your clients, which puts you in a good negotiation stance. A piece of advice from a friend is not something that people usually refuse.
- 4There used to be a perception that a sales representative must like to talk because he will do a lot of it when he starts selling. This is not right. A sales person should be able to listen first before talking. It is not good to just dive in and sell right away. You need to learn about your client's needs first so that you can customize your sales pitch around that information. Always remember:Gather information before you talk.
- It is easier to give an advice to someone when you know exactly what is happening. Your advice will more or less be effective when you are capitalizing on useful information.
- Aside from finding out what they need, you must also find out the things that they probably lack at the moment. The sooner you're able to know these, the better your pitch will be, and the more interested your client becomes.
- A customized approach gives the message to the client that you truly care for their situation and that you are not just like all other sales representatives out there.
- 5This might seem rather weird but it will actually help you to see how you are when dealing with clients. You will see whether you body language is good or whether it comes across as trustworthy enough for clients. The more you understand yourself better, the more that you feel confident about yourself.Look at yourself in the mirror and do your pitch there.
- 6When you have a neat record of your sales activities, it makes it easier for you to track your activities later on and to employ an effective follow-through strategy. Prepare a matrix containing the following:Document all relevant information accordingly.
- Who you called
- When the call was done
This kind of documentation also allows you to understand your sales performance better because you get to see your conversation rate. You get to see what percentage of cold calls actually turn out to be a real client.
- 1Do not expect that you will get a result in just one call. Cold calling takes a lot of patience and perseverance in order to turn out to be a success. When you conduct these followup calls, it does not also have to be another sales call. For example, the client may have mentioned that he is turning 50 in a few days. Send him a greeting on this day. Although this might seem to be just a small effort, it can definitely go a long long way.Conduct followup calls.
- 2In case you did a cold call but was redirected to a voice mailbox, do not just leave a boring message. More often than not, if you do so that way, you will not get a callback. One of the tried and tested ways to get a call back is by name dropping. Research other people who might be connected to your prospect. Then, in the voice mailbox, use those names to your advantage.Use referrals to your advantage.
How to Effectively Handle Objections
Objections are all around. It does not only occur in business but even in day-to-day life such as:
- 1Your parents not allowing you to go out on a weekend
- 2Your brother not in favor of your new boyfriend
- 3Your neighbor not agreeing to the noise you made last night when you were having a slumber party at home
- 4A professor arguing with you about certain points in your thesis
These and many others prove that objections may be encountered everywhere. It is one of the things that are inevitable in life. The key here is indeed to learn not to be disheartened by each of these objections and learn how to move on rather quickly after each.
Here are what you can do to handle objections effectively:
- 1Instead, accept it positively and try to veer the direction of the conversation forward.Do not dwell on the negatives being mentioned.
- 2When you do this, your client will perceive you as very professional and competent in your field. If you avoid the objections, you the client might think that you are unsure of some details and that you are trying to conceal something.Face the objections of the client and deal with each of the items one by one.
- 3Demonstrate to the client the great customer service that you provide by helping him solve the issues one by one by coming up with concrete and tangible solutions, which are particularly customized for them.
Common statements of objection:
- 1I'm not interested.
- 2I am too busy and I do not have the time to consider this.
- 3We are not ready for that now.I think it's too much of an investment.
- 4We will not engage in a similar thing again in the future.We have learned from a bad experience in the past.
- 5Your competitors are more affordable.There are cheaper alternatives in the market.
- 6I do not like being pressured to make a decision about this now.
The following are the areas and corresponding approaches that you may want to consider to handle the objections:
- The client may not be ready to make any decisions. There may be hindrances at the moment that affect the client's capability to make a decision. You may dig deeper into those issues and see whether you may be able to help address some of them. Once the client starts to see that the burden is getting less, he will start to reconsider.
- The client may not want the sole responsibility of being the one to make the decision. There are clients who would like to get the opinion of another person in the company before making a decision. Although time-bound transactions are usually more effective in getting a sale short-term, you may have to go for a better option of allowing the client to consult another person. However, in these types of cases, it is most often ideal when both of those decision makers are present in the meeting. This ensures that both of them got the same information and their decision later on will be based on this.
- The client prefers to stick with whatever they have, instead of trying out something new. In this case, what you can do is further sell the benefits of your products by comparing it against the performance of the current ones.
- The client has some bad experience with your company or with someone else in your company. When client raises this up, just sincerely show that you acknowledge and feel sorry that he has that bad experience with the company. However, demonstrate how you endeavor to make the service different this time around by giving him short-term checks as you try to prove yourself to be different.
- There are some parts of your spiel or presentation that were not understood correctly. It is very important that you try to clarify these points as soon as possible. The best way to check whether a client understood correctly or not is by letting them ask questions. Another is by doing a summary of your presentation and then reconfirming with them whether you are on the same page in terms of understanding.
- You have not convinced the client well enough. There may have been some points that were missed out when you were researching information about the client, that's why you have not tackled those yet.
- There are some hidden reasons which the client is not willing to share to you. These are further information that you can find out later on as you transact further with the client.
Guidelines in dealing with objections:
- 1Listen to your client and try to understand why he is objecting. Find out the crucial areas which he tends to dislike and this serves as a very useful information.Listen actively.
- 2Never use closed questions that only require a yes or a no from the client. Ask questions that will get the client to really talk and explain his thoughts.Probe further as you gather more and more information from the client.
- 3This is a good reflection that you are professional enough and that you are engaged to your customer.Layout your understanding of what the client has just said.
- 4Of course, you are not supposed to brush off these negatives that the client mentions. However, you must avoid dwelling too long on those to the point that the client could not see the positives anymore. Acknowledge the negatives and at the same time present the positives which have more weight.Do not dwell so much on the negatives.
Further points about objections:
- 1In fact, in some cases, it might even be a good starting point for deeper discussions.Objections are not to be considered bad.
- 2The more exposure you have with the client, the more you understand how to actually convince him to buy.Objections give you an opportunity to prolong your transaction with the client to get to see him more in action.
- 3Therefore, you can do your pitch around the fact that you can minimize these dislikes and then you expound further on the advantages. In this way, you are trying to redirect the attention of the client to the positives, so that he will not feel that the negatives will be too much of a burden.Objections clearly tell you what the client dislikes.
When objections are handled carefully and professional and the client sees this, the more that you will earn his trust and respect. This paves the way for a long-term business relationship.
The Science and Art of Persuasion
Persuasion is such an important element in sales. It is a science and an art because you ultimately influence your client to think positively towards your products and at the same time maintain a good relationship. Persuasion involves the interplay of technical and tactical skills of the sales representative.
- 1Listen carefully and understand their expectations. Not only are you able to portray an empathic sales representative, you also equip yourself with more information that will be useful as you further deal with the client.Focus on the needs of your client and consider them your topmost priority.
- 2Avoid giving the client very general concepts to respond to their objections.Confront the objections, but do it in a very logical manner.
- 3Avoid the use of hesitant words such as:
- I'll try...
- Let me see.
- Ummm, you know...
- I think...
These words reduce your credibility and the client may start to doubt if you are worth trusting.
- 1There is nothing wrong in compromising with the client. This gives the client the impression that you really are willing to help him out. However, you need to meet in between because you are also bound by business considerations, which is of course acceptable.Find a common ground which benefits both parties.
- 2Avoid asserting points here and there without a clear flow. If you confuse the client, the further problem you will have in terms of convincing him. Keep it organized and simple so that he can look at the situation more objectively.Structure your response to client objections in an organized manner.
- 3When presenting solutions to him, the client will appreciate your honesty when you fairly show both options. Nobody can refuse someone who is honest and this only demonstrates to the client that you are interested in building a more long-term relationship, rather than just a one-time deal.Be honest to the client in terms of both advantages and disadvantages.
All About Negotiation
Negotiation is handy in so many aspects of life. In a single day, everyone at least negotiates for something, be it big or small.
A negotiation is considered to be positive if it:
- 1Leads to a positive agreement where both sides are pleased with the end results
- 2Was done in an efficient manner
- 3Did not cause any damage in relationships
Two types of negotiations:
- 1Positional Negotiations
- The participants are completely against each other.
- They are competing for something and both of them aspire to win.
- There is too much pressure because of the desire to win.
- It usually ends with one position considered as above the other.
- 2Principled Negotiations
- The participants maintain their friendship.
- There is no competition happening, only a discussion, and both of them aspire to come to an agreement.
- Both parties trust each other.
- Both parties are willing to compromise.
- There is not much pressure because of the desire to just come to an agreement.