As a sales manager, field visits with the sales team is one of the most valuable time spent in coaching and developing your team. The pace could be fast as field sales people are busy and barely have time to take a breath, let alone slow down and have a coaching session before a sales call. As the sales manager, creating the sales coaching environment as well as culture within your own team is one of the first critical steps in setting expectations from your sales team so that they know you will take the time to coach. The hard part is to “sell” the value to your team and this can only be done with time and effective coaching with consistency.
When I travel in the field with my sales team, I have set the foundation that I want them to slow things down and to talk me through their thought process and to verbalize what they hope to accomplish with their field visit. I explain the reason why I want to understand so that I can observe and assist them in thinking things out and to use the limited time I have with my team to ask the coaching questions that have them explore what it is they are doing and instill the type of thinking that makes a sales call effective. For example, I might ask, “what are your main objectives for your call?”, “How do you hope to accomplish that?”, “do you think that is a valuable goal for this visit?”, “If given more time, what else do you hope to accomplish?”. In slowing down and asking the sales coaching questions, the call is explored and thought out prior to the actual call, which gives it purpose and help me understand what we are trying to accomplish and then I get to observe the sales professional execute. After the sales call, it is easy to jump in the car and run to the next sale call, but it is worthwhile to again, slow down and ask to review the sales call that just occurred while it is fresh in the mind. This is where sales coaching takes full effect as you can see the instant results of the pre-coaching, execution and post-coaching.
With the post sales call, you can coach your sales rep by asking what they think went well, did they accomplish their set objectives, what could they have done better and again, ask many questions to have the sales rep think about their actions and to set their own developmental actions for either the next sales call or during the next field visit. I have built a trust with my sales team that they know my intentions are good and I don’t go and just focus on what they did wrong, but I ask questions to truly examine the actions just taken and coach the sales rep to think about they just did. True sales champions appreciate the sale coaching process as it only happens every so often and then the sales manager is off to take care of other things of off working with other team members.
Take the time to coach before and after each sales call when you are with your sales rep and utilize the coaching process to facilitate thought and examination from your sales rep versus being the sales manager that simply finds what happened bad and does the equivalent of “throwing up” with suggestions. Ask, explore and listen. In time, the coaching and self reflection during these coaching sessions will give your sales rep something to think about until the next time they work with you. I usually ask for them to set their own action items, or goals to improve on or set and then follow up during our next field visit.