I’m not trying to do myself out of business with this statement, but salespeople need far more coaching than typical salespeople receive. While there are many good seminars and presenters in the marketplace, there are simply not enough regular seminars in your town or city for that method of training to be sufficient to develop a winning team.
In addition to external seminars, the leader has to step up and coach.
If you do not have this already, your office must have a comprehensive training library of books, recordings, manuals, and DVDs. Ideally there should not be any problem your sales team faces that cannot be solved by a program that is in your training library. This is what the Pittard Training Group strives to provide its members and it is essential.
How does the leader coach?
First of all, to be effective, YOU must know what is contained in those programs. This means that you have to study.
You then conduct regular training meetings (one or twice per week, depending on your team’s overall skill level). But you don’t just play a DVD or recording. You stop the program at regular intervals and discuss points raised by the presenter of the program. Get the team involved. Get the team THINKING.
Watch for who takes notes and who does not. Anybody who does not take notes is either arrogant or stupid. Either that, or they have a photographic memory. I have only ever met one person who had one.
Role Plays are a great way to keep the team involved in training. This is what Steve Chesterton, winner of Leader of the Year at the 2010 Australasian Real Estate Awards, said about the importance of Role Plays:
“Every second Tuesday, we sit down for 1½ hours and we role play. Lately we’ve had a run on sellers whose English is poor. Somebody suggested drawing pictures to make a point that words never could.
We drew a picture of a happy face and put some ears on it. Then we drew a sad face with no ears: ‘See this man, unhappy with the tears coming down his face? This is you with no ears, you don’t listen!’ [You’d better be smiling.] It helps our salespeople to make the point that if you listen to us, you will get a good result and be happy.”
By this method the whole team shared ideas on how to combat a problem that was a sticking point to sales.
I hope you noticed that Steve Chesterton, the leader, was just as involved in the Role Play as was the team.
As leader you are a coach. You don’t always have to be the facilitator of each training meeting conducted by your office. Sometimes it’s a good idea to let a salesperson conduct the meeting. But you must always be the guide, the coach. You must see that the training meetings are topical, meaningful, and stay on track.
If you want your salespeople to take responsibility for becoming successful, to have them solve problems in the field, and to enjoy the increased confidence that comes with increased competence, then you have to step up and coach.
Coaching is one of your most important leadership duties, if not the most important.