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The benefits of coaching sales teams are undeniable. On average, 84 percent of sales training content is lost after 90 days. Scary, right? Unless that is, the training gets reinforced through multiple mediums by a trained coach. Not just someone who’s sold, but someone who can coach others effectively. As CSO Insights reports, just because you’ve been a passenger, doesn’t mean you have the skills to drive the car or worse, fly the plane! Bad or nonexistent coaching causes negative behaviors to become ingrained in your culture and repeated year after year. 

Whether you’re a manager or a seller, read these 5 deadly coaching mistakes and make certain you give and receive coaching designed to improve and sustain sales performance.

1. You Mistake Training for Coaching

Simply put, sales training involves the transfer of ideas in a group setting. Unlike training, coaching is performed one on one. You coach to an individual’s specific strengths or weaknesses, rather than to the universal needs of a group.  A coach, like a doctor, must put aside their own goals, listen, and then prescribe. When your doctor listens to your heartbeat with her stethoscope, do you think she’s thinking about herself? Not if she’s a true professional. She wants to understand your inner world so that she can affect your outer world.

 Coaches don’t use stethoscopes.  But you must indeed listen to the hearts, dreams, and aspirations of your reps.

2. You Lack Consistency

The fundamental difference between a discussion and a coaching session is consistency. Consistency is the key to competency, and unless you formalize and memorialize the coaching process, reps won’t find value in your efforts. Too many managers only meet when there’s a problem. “Hey George, you’re not meeting your numbers. Better bring them up, or you’ll be looking for a new job!” Yikes! Commit to coaching at a pre-set time. Give specific tasks. Stick to it. Consistency  cements trust and trust enhances performance.

3. You Start By Telling Them What’s wrong 

After a coaching call, rather than sharing what went wrong, ask your rep how they feel about their sales conversation. At Levitin group, we find reps are usually harder on themselves than you’ll ever be.  Next, share what they did right. By hearing the good stuff first, their brains will be more receptive to the areas where they need to improve. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study confirms that individuals who receive at least a 6-1 ratio of positive-to-negative advice significantly outperform those who receive criticism more often.

4. You Fail to Align Sales Goals with Personal Values

Sales goals are only as significant as the purpose and motivation behind them. Getting to the underlying purpose of a goal unlocks internal motivation, and that’s far stronger than the fear of low production. 

Salespeople spend the better part of their lives finding out the motivations of their customers, yet they may never stop and define their own.

Help reps find their core motivation: their real purpose. An exercise we use in our live seminars is we ask sales reps this question and then dig deep. 

“If you earned an extra $5000 per month, what you would do with it??”

More travel? Save for retirement? Buy cool stuff? Donate more to charity? Once they have an answer, keep digging, “And then what? Let’s say you could do all that stuff.  Then what would you do?” If you keep asking, you uncover their core motivation: to spend more time with family, to increase security, to pay for the kids’ education, to donate to a charity, or even to earn respect. When you understand a reps core motivator and tie it to company goals, they’ll work harder and shine brighter.

5. You Offer Too Much Advice

Some coaches love to make their lessons overly complicated. The brain can’t possibly remember 36 new things to incorporate into a sales presentation. In golf, there’s an expression called the “swing shot.”  The idea is that when you’re about to make an important shot, you don’t have time to remember 12 different things. So, a good swing coach will offer just one thing to recall, and that one key piece of guidance triggers all the other things you know to do.  Same thing in sales.

It’s easy to find people who are willing to give you advice. What’s harder is finding those with advice worth giving. Great coaches spend less time proving that they know the right way and more time figuring out how to make each student grow.

If you’d like a FREE consultation on how Levitin Group can coach your coaches to exceed your sales goals, click here.

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  • Susan Sanzone says:

    Hi Shari,
    Absolutely love your emails. So insightful and extremely helpful.
    I work for The Marketing Directors, Inc. and will be moving to my next location soon. Please send your emails to my personal Gmail account. Do not want to miss any.
    Thank you,
    Susan Sanzone

  • Shari Levitin says:

    Will do, Susan! Thank you for your support and good luck with your move!

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