Sales Management Tip of the Month: The Importance of Coaching Your Sales Teams
Sales is a team effort, and teams need coaches. As a sales manager in your senior living company, depending on your level of management you most likely are responsible for several sales teams at the least. Each senior living community in your company has its own sales team, and together all of these communities make up a larger sales team. It’s common for there to be coaches at regional and corporate levels, all working together to achieve the common goal of building census for the company and its communities.
Here are some of the most important functions of sales coaching:
Setting Clear Goals
It would be ridiculous to expect a salesperson to be successful in your company without communicating to them what their goals are. Setting and communicating clear goals for them is critical to their success. What goals should you set? Depending on your company’s sales system and the sales activities you track with your senior living CRM, you may want to set goals for the number of new leads, outbound calls, referrals, tours, deposits, and move-ins. The timeframe for each goal is important too; sales activity goals like calls made and tours conducted are easier to track on a weekly basis, while performance goals like deposits received and residents moved in are usually measured on a monthly basis. Having systems in place for your salespeople to report their progress toward their goals is critical; diligently utilizing the CRM to generate accurate reports, as well as weekly review calls, are effective ways of reporting their progress to their goals.
The natural-born salesperson is a myth. While there are certain personality traits that lend themselves to success in sales, for the most part the skills needed to succeed must be developed. How do you as a coach develop sales skills in your salespeople? By a) teaching the skill; b) promoting practicing the skill, and c) reviewing and correcting the use of the skill, and d) promoting practicing the skill (yes, we know we repeated that one, but it’s important because practice creates mastery.)
“If you don’t practice you don’t deserve to win.” -Andre Agassiformer #1-ranked tennis player in the world,eight-time Grand Slam champion,and a 1996 Olympic gold medalist
As a sales manager, you can tell your team to make 100 calls, but are you listening to the calls, are you helping them to understand the best way to answer each objection? Separate your coach self from your manager self and review the calls with them. Focus on the rhythm of the calls, the direction they’re taking the prospects on the sales journey. When do you take them down a particular line of inquiry and why? When do you bring up and discuss each subject such as levels of care, amenities, price, etc.
How often are you sitting side by side with your sales people as they make calls or conduct tours? When and where do you do a review? Do you have a schedule and a plan for doing these things that you’ve communicated to your sales people? A sales person should know exactly when each week you will be reviewing which activities with them so that they can make sure they prepare to put their best foot forward.
Giving Constructive Feedback
It should be a given that sales professionals should expect to receive constructive feedback, but that is not always the case. Set the expectation up front with your salespeople that they will receive feedback from you as part of the sales coaching process. Providing constructive feedback regularly as part of your coaching helps to reinforce that it is not being critical but rather it is a path to improving their skills and performance.
Keeping Your Salespeople Focused on What’s Important
Sales success requires laser-focus on the activities that produce results. Being distracted by the daily operation of the senior living community only takes the salesperson out of the mental selling zone. As a coach, helping your salespeople to set up the factors for success and creating an environment where selling is the priority is important. Work with your salespeople to set aside blocks of time on their calendar each week when they do nothing but make outbound calls to prospects or meet with referral sources in the greater community for example.
Measuring and Reporting
Just like an athletic coach measures the time it takes a sprinter to run a certain distance, or keeps track of how effective a pitcher is throwing different types of pitches, a sales coach keeps track of the salesperson’s key performance indicators and uses them to look for opportunities for improvement. As mentioned earlier, your sales systems and CRM are key to measuring the salesperson’s activity and reporting their progress toward their goals, so be sure you and your salespeople are using them to their fullest potential.
Coaching others to success is one of the greatest contributions you as a sales manager can give to your company and those you work with. Setting clear goals for your salespeople, helping them develop and hone their skills, giving them constructive feedback, helping them to stay focused on what’s important, and promoting the measurement and reporting of their sales activity will all make you a better coach, and them a more successful salesperson.