Building A Sales Coaching Culture?

All change is not growth; all movement is not forward.
-- Ellen Glasgow

Sales teams are changing (or have changed already!)

Sales transformation requires some sort of new action and behaviors from reps and managers. Investments in time and effort to change the actions and behaviors of sales team members require a long-term strategy for sales success. More importantly, that strategy needs to be built "outside-in" with the customer as the design point. 

For example, a strategy to optimize consultative selling and transactional selling models at the same time requires an adjustment of content, skills, and tools within the team. While there are many other strategies at play in this newly emerging economic reality, one thing's for sure, transformation needs to happen at the individual level.

 I often have to remind Sales Enablement professionals we're in the business to make the value communication vehicle more effective and efficient -- and sometimes we have to take a "one person at a time" approach. 

To help any change take hold in the trenches, you have to focus on the individual at some point. To support change at this individual level, we have to recognize the strategic importance of creating a culture that is supportive of those changes.

When it comes to creating a culture, I often hear Sales Enablement professionals striving for a "sales coaching culture." In talking with them, I discovered many have a strong belief that a sales coaching culture creates a more collaborative and adaptive team.  

While most of the people I talk to are supportive of building a sales coaching culture as an end goal, you will fail if you don't have sales managers onboard and active in achieving this goal. Think about it: If you're trying to build a sales coaching culture, sales managers can be a catalyst or an inhibitor.

Why? Because sales managers must have the ability to coach (skill) and the willingness to coach.

And when it comes to sales managers who have both, the results you're looking for managers to have with their reps include:

  • Consistently tailored coaching conversations 
  • Effectively managing expectations
  • Determining priorities effectively
  • Expanding skills 
  • Accelerating the sales pipeline 

Stepping back and thinking through what we're talking about is key -- especially with such a lofty goal as building a coaching culture.

For example, while building a sales coaching culture sounds good in theory, the reality is it's really a challenge to design, implement, and reinforce the correct behavior change approaches. Let's face it, if you are striving to build a sales coaching culture, by definition you need to change behavior at some level, right?

So, elevate your thinking and tackle this strategically for a few minutes.  

Here are two strategies to consider when it comes to building a sales coaching culture:

  • Strategy 1: Provide leaders, managers, and supervisors with training, experience, and tools to incorporate tailored coaching conversations into their daily professional work.
     
  • Strategy 2: Develop internal coaching expertise as a cross-organizational resource helping sales team members leverage the collective expertise of the entire organization as each rep adapts to market conditions and changing buyer expectations.

I often see Sales Enablement professionals implement a sales coaching program targeting the sales management team. While having a methodology is important, the methodology must be tied into the broader strategy.