Field Coaching, Part 3 – Ask Yourself

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 22-06-2009

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 In the previous two posts we discussed some do’s and dont’s for Field Coaching your sales reps to help them achieve greater success.  Your role as a field coach is that of an observer who after each calls gives positive feedback and re-enforcement for actions to improve the reps success in closing or building business in new and existing accounts.  When analyzing the reps for the after-call conference ask yourself questions like this:

  • Did the rep demonstrate effective listening skills?
  • Was the rep honest with the customer?
  • Did the rep cover/discuss important sales information?
  • Did the rep demonstrate concern for the customers needs and wants?
  • Is the rep too wordy?
  • Was the rep impatient or irritated?
  • Did the rep mention or discuss any particular products or services?
  • Was the rep focused on the call’s objective?
  • Can you learn anything from the rep? (Technique, approach, product info)
  • Did the rep offer a solution(s) to the customers problems?
  • Did the rep recognize any sales opportunities?  
  • Was the rep observant?
  • Did the rep identify the appropriate decision maker(s)?
  • Does the rep understand their expectations and/or goals?

Always hold your post call discussion prior to the next call but keep it brief and to the point.  Always find the positive attributes of the call first and then ask if the rep thinks the call would have gone better if they had done the items in question.  Give the rep the opportunity to learn from their experience and your observations, give them the first chance at discovery.  Ask the rep to rate their performance and see if they picked up on what you observed.  Don’t beat on the rep with any errors, actual or perceived.  You do not want to be confrontational.  Positive feedback will return positive results. 

At the end of your day have a wrap-up session and discuss the day in a relaxed environment, not in your office, if possible.  Agree on what changes should be made to achieve greater success.  Suggest solutions and help your rep make a commitment to a goal that is attainable and realistic.  If the rep needs further sales training or product knowledge make that commitment to them and follow through with your promises.  Monitor your progress for proof that your coaching is successful.  This isn’t a complete listing of everything you need to do.  But rather some suggestions to help you think about what you want to achieve.  The best coach will always get the most from their team.

 The last word: “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”– Anthony Robbins

Field Coaching, Part 2

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 16-06-2009

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In the previous post we discussed some things to do prior to spending the day field coaching your sales reps.  Unlike the fellow in the image above shouting and finger pointing doesn’t accomplish anything.  Items such as listening on your part as a coach is very important.  Prior to walking through the customer/prospects door you have agreed to what your role is and laid the ground rules so each of you are on the same page.  You should have discussed the customers’ present status such as: problems or issues, current purchasing habits, needs, wants, decision makers, account stability, etc.  You should watch the body language of the rep and the customer and listen closely to their verbal exchanges for later discussion.  No matter what the outcome be willing to sacrifice the sales and let the rep leave without the order.  Even if you’re confident you could have gotten the order and saved the call there is more at stake than just the order.  The rep will resent your presence and the customer will think less of your company and your rep if you intervene.  Use your time after the call to demonstrate to the rep what ideally should take place and how to handle the issues next time.  Building self confidence in your rep is more valuable than the sale.  This strategy has a long term effect and will strengthen the relationship with your reps.

Some things I suggest you avoid, such as talking to much with the customer (being chatty) which makes your rep feel inferior.  Unless the rep asks you in the presence of the customer, never correct them in front of a customer.  Don’t offer any concessions to deal with problems unless you have been dispatched for that purpose.  Even then, let your rep save the account and you tag along for support.  You want to avoid taking sides for any reason which can turn a situation ugly quickly.  Don’t take notes, it’s rude and inconsiderate.  Don’t let your body language give away your personal discomfort if the rep is making a mess of the call.  Always make the rep and the customer the center of attention.  Don’t become distracted with looking outside and watching the television in the waiting room for the latest news blurb.  Never, ever do anything that could or would embarrass your rep.

I love to watch old movies, especially from the 1930′s and 1940′s.  People displayed a high degree of class and integrity.  They had high moral values and were not intimidated, or afraid of offending others to mention God or Jesus or their faith either at work or at play.  Things that we consider socially acceptable now were taboo then.  Women were treated with respect and men always, always demonstrated manners and proper etiquette.  Clothing was revealing enough to make you wonder, but no so to make you wonder how much.  We have strayed far from treating people with the same dignity, respect and purposely practicing good etiquette in today’s environment.  There is a time and place for everything and now is the time to be gracious, kind, polite and well mannered.  Take a moment to open the door for others, chew your food with your mouth closed and don’t talk with your mouth full, say a kind word and be complimentary toward others.  It’s the little things that bring big rewards down the road to success.  People will remember a kind word and deed longer than they will today’s special “deal”.

On the next post we’ll discuss a few things to ask yourself when evaluating your rep for the after call discussion.  Have you an interesting coaching story to tell?

The last word: “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”– William Arthur Ward

Rep Ride-Alongs, Do’s and Dont’s of Field Coaching

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 12-06-2009

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As a sales manager you must spend quality time in the field with your reps evaluating performance and other areas to determine if improvement, or additional training, is necessary to bring your rep to a level where they can meet or exceed expectations.  You should have covered what your expectations are previously such as, quotas, profit margins, reporting, closing ratios, new account acquisition, etc.  If you have not covered this with your rep(s) then stop what you are doing right now and do this!  It’s that important. 

There are many things to do and not to do when field coaching.  I’ll cover this topic over the next several posts.  Plan you ride-alongs in advance, don’t just call the day before.  Surprise visits should only be for special reasons and you want your rep to be prepared so advance planning is important so my advice is to give a week’s notice.  Call or sit down with your rep the day before your time together and plan how you will spend your time together.  Set the ground rules as to how many new or prospective customers you want to see.  Give the rep the leverage to decide how he, or she, wants to introduce to the customer: sales manager, member of the management staff, sales trainer, etc.  Always keep your message to your rep positive and upbeat.  You’re not there to be critical on a personal level but to help and encourage them and to identify any weaknesses they may have where you may be able to help them become more successful.  Be up front about what you are looking to accomplish.

Early on the morning of you day in the field, meet early with your rep and review the day’s schedule.  Have your rep review each customer and prospect so you have a through understanding of why the visit is warranted.  When visiting regular customers suggest your rep to give some advance notice to the customers as some may not like the team approach and feel intimidated when two people walk in unannounced.  Remember to not wait until the end of the day to address any problems or concerns found during the calls.  It’s best to cover these issues after each call.  Your role is that of an observer so you must resist the urge to rescue the rep when they make a mistake.  When you correct them use words like “we” and not “I”.  You don’t want your rep to resent the time you spend with them.

Your role is to listen and observe and most of to be silent.  Don’t say anything unless you are addressed directly or asked a question.  When you are introduced be gracious and polite and if it is a regular customer tell them how much you appreciate their business.  As we have discussed here often the #1 thing most people desire is to feel appreciated!

I recall a visit with a rep recently where I had brought with me a quantity of miniature Fellowes Banker’s Boxes that I had filled with tiny little Tootsie Rolls.  My Fellowes rep gave me a case of these to demonstrate a new file storage box and I had the idea of pasting a business card to the top and handing them out to customers.  The rep and I made a prospecting appointment call and our contact was quiet resistent.  I had the box hidden behind my back and after an awkward moment the rep looks at me for help.  I asked if I could show them a new storage box, which was ok’d, upon which I gave a quick demonstration of the box and presented the contents to the prospect who was delighted to receive the candy.  In short, after seeing that we interested in the person first (relationship) and seeking to identify a possible solution (problem resolution) the prospect nearly leaped out of her chair and he demeanor completely changed.  Please understand I have left a lot out of the story here that you may be wondering about however, the rep looked to me for help and the situation offered me an opportunity.  This was an attorney’s office and my experience with this market is attorney’s use a lot of storage boxes.  Therefore, I was prepared in advance of the call whereas the rep was not. 

In my next post I’ll give you some things to avoid in your field coaching work.  If you have suggestions you would like to add I would love to hear from you!  If you have a story to share, please do.  We can learn from each others experiences.

The last word: “Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats.”– Og Mandino