Best PracticesAug 11th, 2014

A Sales Coach's Prescription for Increased Performance and Sales


If a doctor prescribed medications after glancing at a patient’s chart, she’d get sued for malpractice. It’s understood that the chart doesn’t have all the information she needs and that a good doctor advises patients and prescribes medicine or gives advice only after attempting to get the complete story. Just as looking at a patient’s chart doesn’t provide enough information to a doctor, looking at a salesperson’s stats doesn’t provide a complete picture to sales coaches. When coaches react to their sales numbers without getting a complete assessment of the situation, they’re being like the doctor who is a lawsuit waiting to happen. You may not get sued, but you’re also unlikely to provide the best solutions that will help improve their performance and sales.

A doctor may ask questions about her patients’ activity level, family history, and habits before providing advice. Like her, it’s a sales coach’s job to assess the situation and offer solutions. Too often, though, managers provide a prescription before fully assessing the situation. In order to assess the situation, look for trigger words that tell you there’s more information to discover. For example, when a sales professional uses absolutes like, “No one who came in this week wanted to take a test drive,” the coach needs to step in and hold them accountable by asking questions to find out why. Other tip-offs are words like everyoneall, and nobody. When you hear these absolutes, ask additional questions, such as, “What are you currently saying to see if the customer wants to take a test drive with you?” Keep digging by asking what their feedback is, whether customers seem excited, etc. Other questions to help sales coaches assess the current situation include, “What are you currently working on? What’s working for you? What’s the process you’re currently using?”

By uncovering a salesperson’s current behaviors and beliefs, coaches will often discover what is really going on, and they’ll know what to do next. Once you’ve assessed the situation, you can present a solution (outcome). For instance, in the example above, the sales coach may discover that the desired outcome is to get the prospect to do a test drive or to be excited to get into the car with the salesperson. This “outcome” is like a prescription—something to improve the salesperson’s “health” and increase sales.

Jason Forrest is a sales trainer; management coach and member of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group and Entrepreneur’s Organization. He is also an award-winning author of six books, including Leadership Sales Coaching. One of Training magazine’s Top Young Trainers of 2012, Jason is an expert at creating high-performance sales cultures through complete training programs. He incorporates experiential learning to increase sales, implement cultural accountability, and transform companies into sales organizations. He’s won Stevie Awards for Sales Training Leader (2013) and for Sales Coaching Training Program of the Year (2014).

Authored by

Steven Couture

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