Can Coaching Really Help Build B2B Sales?
Often, managing a B2B sales company can feel a lot like coaching a professional sports team. Most of the time you’re dealing with some pretty big egos, and people with a set of elite sales skills, especially amongst the top performers in the team. Some sales individuals may even be more knowledgeable about the products and/or services that they sell than their managers, and B2B sales professionals are more often than not highly motivated by attaining their goals and the benefits gained by doing so. B2B sales teams often have a lot going on, and as a result tend to have a short term memory for methodology. Can coaching really help to increase B2B sales? Let’s find out.
Best Managers for Coaching
In general, the managers who deliver the best B2B sales coaching are those who have learned their skills in the trenches, and have earned their knowledge through trial and error along with the help of their own mentors. Although there are a number of books available that address B2B selling techniques and theories about the best ways in which to develop and close a sizeable deal. However, these textbook approaches don’t always necessarily work across the board, and the best B2B sales coaches know this. Skilled sales managers are able to create a strategy book and performance asset management strategy of their own, based on their own tried and tested practices.
Coaching Without Taking Over
Although the managers best at sales coaching are the ones who have gained their expertise as a sales rep, it can often be difficult for them to go on a sale ride-along with a sales rep without taking over the sales process. Customers often tend to yield to the seniority of a sales manager, so if as a manager you cannot help but take the reins of any sales meeting that you attend, you may actually be causing more harm than good to the trajectory of their performance.
The goal of a supervised sales call is to enable sales team members to operate more effectively, build their confidence, and to help them attain their quota. During a supervised sales call it is important to avoid any situation where the integrity of the sales rep is put into question. It’s vital that you make every effort to build up the sales rep in front of the client, rather than take them down a peg – ultimately you will want to build the client’s confidence in and respect for the sales rep as well as yourself.
Good B2B sales coaching does not always have to take on the form of a supervised sales call, and in fact it is often very effective to coach sales reps in a situation where there is no client present, as this will enable them to be more comfortable, ask questions, and worry less about making mistakes since there is no pressure on them to close a deal. Before carrying out supervised sales calls, it may be a good idea to arrange a meeting with sales reps where you carry out a number of role playing exercises and discuss topics such as building credibility, addressing client objections, effectively communicating the business values of your solution, and the negotiation of prices and contract terms.
Meeting with Clients
It is important for your sales representatives to build a relationship and establish and build a level of rapport and authority with their client. For this reason, sales managers and coaches are usually better off attending a follow up meeting rather than an initial meeting with a client, as by this point there is more likely to be a professional relationship between the sales rep and the client. During the follow up meeting, managers should say as little as possible to the client and instead observe the sales representative in how they carry out their role. Explain to the client that your presence is a supportive one only, and that you are attending the meeting in order to better understand their needs and expectations from the business.
Constructive feedback is crucial when it comes to good B2B sales coaching. When providing feedback to your sales rep, it is a good idea to create a list of quality criteria, which you can subtly use during the client meeting. After the meeting, meet with the sales rep to discuss both the positive and negative aspects of the meeting, and try to provide as much constructive criticism as possible.
Always keep in mind that good B2B sales coaches will let sales reps know what they’re doing right, as well as what could be improved.