LEADERSHIP SERIES: Research suggests that Sales Leadership is the difference maker between good performance and superior performance. And how sales leaders embrace five essential roles is critical to the success of their teams. We hope you find this series of short informal discussions around sales leadership useful and thought-provoking.
Inside Out Coaching: The Key to Getting the Most Out Of Your Sales Team
It’s almost ironic that one of the very best tools in the sales manager’s repertoire is something we’ve all seen in experience, but few of us ever put to practice in our working lives: inside out coaching.
If you are thinking that you don’t know what inside out coaching means, then you’re probably both right and wrong – you are certainly familiar with the concept, but might have heard it called something else.
Basically, inside out coaching is just what it sounds like: reaching inside the individual members of your sales team and pulling their very best work out.
How is this accomplished? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not simply a matter of motivation, bonuses, incentives, or attentive management. Instead, what it takes is a demonstration that you utterly and completely believe in their skills and talents, and the potential both have you have for their work with the customer.
If you’ve ever played a sport in school, or had a teacher or professor who took a special interest in your talents, then you probably already know what we are talking about. Having that role model who can get you to work harder than you ever have before, and not simply for a paycheck or to achieve some arbitrary goal, is what inspires so many of us to new heights.
That’s the reason that it’s inside out coaching, rather than inside out training, or inside out management. Whereas the other two would indicate something you do to your sales staff, coaching is an activity you conduct with them. As small a detail as that might seem, it makes all the difference.
The key to making this dynamic work in the real world isn’t in saying a lot of things, then asking a lot of questions. Just as a prospect who’s given the space and time to talk about his or her needs will eventually tell you how to close the sale, a salesperson who is asked the right questions – and given the freedom to answer at length – will almost always reveal where his or her own strengths and weaknesses are.
And when that happens, it’s your job as the sales leader to draw out their best work based on what you hear. For example, you might find out that a certain salesperson needs to make more calls, get to the office earlier, or do a better job of following through on customer service commitments. But since you’ve discovered these areas for improvement together, it isn’t a matter of criticism or demanding more work – you’re coaching them to stronger sales performance.
If you really want your staff to sell up to their potential, then realize that you can’t make them do it… you have to be a great coach and let them do it. Inside out coaching is the best way to do that, and a strategy that smart sales leaders put to use consistently.
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