As a sales leader, you will often find your people looking to you for wisdom, direction, and reassurance. Therefore, you need a coaching process that takes time to build up the people who make up your talent pool. We need to look beyond what they can do today and help them realize what’s possible tomorrow. When you invest in building your team members, you are investing in your organization’s future.
That’s why, as a sales leader, you can’t settle for just telling your team members what they should do. You need a process for coaching them to achievement.
Using a process gives you consistent results for all members of your team. And it gives you a framework to accommodate an individual’s unique personality through small adjustments.
With that in mind, here are 5 steps of a coaching process for building your individual team members.
1. Start Your Coaching Process By Identifying The Opportunity
The first step of the coaching process is to identify the opportunity. Typically, these opportunities arise from:
- A colleague identifying an opportunity for improvement in another member of the sales team;
- The sales person identifying an opportunity for himself or herself;
- A customer, vendor, or other outsider identifying an opportunity to improve the relationship.
These different opportunities may stem from a variety of situations, including:
- the sales rep taking on a new job or project that requires a new skill,
- a new revelation identified during a team member’s formal performance review,
- a post-mortem review of a challenge or mistake.
Regardless of the source, always assess the opportunity for coaching and improvement. And commit to a specific result to ensure the best outcome.
Remember, you can manage a process, but you coach and lead people.
2. Establish Desired Results
Once you have identified the opportunity, take time to pinpoint the results when your team member has bridged the gap.
When you establish the results, create a picture framed in the present tense, as if the team member has already reached the performance targets. Also, describe the gap between what the person is currently doing, what they should be doing, and associate an identifiable action with all steps in between. Throughout this process, always circle back to identify the targeted behavior and describe the desired results at the end of the process.
When you outline the process up front, your team member can envision well-defined results. And what they can envision they can successfully reach.
3. Provide Resources
In order for the coaching process to be successful, you must clear away obstructions and make the appropriate resources available. This includes time, money, equipment, training, knowledge, information, upper management buy-in, and support. Most importantly, your team member must commit to the process and want to achieve the results.
So ensure that the appropriate resources are in place and available. Over-promising and failing to deliver causes frustration for everyone involved. If you fail to give your people support, you can leave them with the impression that you set them up to fail, either intentionally or through ignorance. Either way, they won’t trust you in future dealings.
Once you have the resources in place and you have explained and demonstrated the desired skill, it’s time for your team member to implement the plan.
In order for knowledge to develop into a skill, your people must take action and practice new behavior. But they must sharpen the behavior with the help of a coach who can ensure they are practicing the correct skill. Practice also allows the coach to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement while witnessing the skill in real time.
We must always frame our coaching to ensure that our team members will welcome our perspective. That way, they can learn from our observations as opposed to taking a defensive stance to our comments.
Remember, coaches act as mirrors, providing feedback on how the team member is performing.
5. End Your Coaching Process With Effective Follow Up
When following up on the results, remember that your goal is to effect a behavioral change. You want the team member to perform the new activities on their own. Coaching is a process. So include regular intervals to review the results.
When your team member has successfully reached the goal, take time to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishment. If they haven’t yet reached the target, take the time to discuss the results they did achieve. Then determine if they need additional resources and what modifications they need to implement before moving forward.
Keep in mind, small acts of recognition throughout the process can have a large impact. So take time to recognize your team member throughout the coaching process. Let them know what they are doing right and acknowledge incremental improvements. Those small bits of recognition you provide will keep them on track and they will achieve the overall results faster.