Coaching an Effective Selling System

By Tony ColeTony Cole

An effective selling system is a requisite for success in the world of sales. Follow those who are true leaders in selling, and you will find each has a system that allows them to excel.

In order to have a productive sales team, one must consistently teach and coach an Effective Sales System (ESS). If your team does not have an ESS, and you rely on sales people to operate within their own system, you will have a difficult, if not impossible, time affecting individual skills and behaviors.

An effective coach must clearly demonstrate what is expected of a sales person. At a minimum, one must be able to communicate how to employ concepts and tactics via stories, analogies and metaphors. Think of the athletic coach–while the coach may not physically demonstrate everything that is expected of an athlete, he/she must be able to communicate what is expected.

To effectively coach sales people, you must do the same. You must truly know and understand the selling process and the Effective Selling System. You must own the content and the process, and you must communicate the sales skills expected of your team.

Specifically, you must be able to demonstrate the 8-step phone process with an effective Unique Selling Approach (USA) opening. You must demonstrate an effective initial call starting with “What would make this meeting a great use of your time?” Your ability to demonstrate these skills will greatly enhance your sales team’s ability to execute an Effective Sales System. On the other hand, if you don’t know the system intimately, you won’t be able to effectively coach your sales people through demonstrations or identify sales-sabotaging behaviors.

Remember to ask open-ended questions. Help sales people discover their choke points through the questions you ask. Confirm that the sales person wants to fix his or her problems. Unless sales people desire to correct their weaknesses, you will have a difficult, if not impossible time, helping them improve. Verify each producer’s willingness and enthusiasm to work and get commitment that they will devote the time and energy necessary to master the skills.

A good sales coach must also be able to teach the theories and psychology which support an Effective Sales System, including: A. Why understanding the interpersonal dynamics of the buying and selling process is crucial, B. Why traditional phone approaches are ineffective, C. Why a sales person should not look, act or sound like every other sales person, D. Why effectively asking questions can make or break a sale and E. Why it’s critical to get commitment for a decision prior to presentation.

As well, a good sales coach must understand and teach the psychology and theory supporting: A. When and why a sales person asks for introductions, B. Why each sales person must have a robust pipeline, C. Why executing a personal success formula is vitally important, and D. Why participating regularly in sales huddles (weekly, 15-minute meetings in which sales people report critical numbers) is crucial to a sales person’s success.

You must coach your sales people at each step as follows: First, tell them the skill you will be teaching. Second, show them how to use the technique. Third, review what you taught and demonstrated. Next, execute with drill-for-skill and role-play so that your sales people can see the skill in action. Finally, have them practice using the technique with one another so that they are able to employ the tactic while they are under pressure in the field and on the phone.

Your team must demonstrate knowledge of the selling system and comfort while using it. Typically, human beings must perform an activity multiple times before mastering it.

Robert F. Bruner of the University of Virginia stressed the importance of repetition for learning when he wrote the following: “The deepest “Ahas” spring from an encounter and then a return. Repeating the encounter fuses it into one’s awareness. The learning process is one of slow engagement with ideas; gradually the engagement builds to a critical mass where the student actually acquires the idea.”

Being a good sales coach is a full-time job, requiring focus, dedication and energy to learn and master the steps and processes of an Effective Sales System. The coach must then be willing and able to teach and coach these steps and processes to the sales team. A good sales coach must be able to play “bad-guy/good-guy” and be able to motivate and mentor sales people while holding them accountable to the necessary activities.

Learn more about Tony Cole at his blog and website. Enjoy Tony’s e-Book 9 Keys to Sales Coaching Success.