“I’ve been a salesman for 20 years, mostly in industrial products. We’ve just hired a junior rep, and my boss has asked me to be her coach. I’m glad to help, and she seems eager, but I’m at a loss — I never had a coach myself. What’s a coach do, and how do I go about it?”
What I have found extremely valuable are the coaching skills I have learned from a group called Landmark Education. [Editor’s note: http://www.landmark-education.com] They offer a variety of courses and by the time you reach about the 4th or 5th one, you would have no problem coaching any person on anything.
Joan M. Hines, Ontario
A coach is someone who:
- Never asks someone to do something he/she would not do, therefore:
- Leads by example.
- Uses patience, persistence, perseverance and passion to produce profits.
- Guides, encourages and then lets go with confidence.
- Shows appreciation for efforts. There is no such thing as failure… trying produces a result, it may not be the result expected, but it is never failure.
As children, our favorite coaches were those who encouraged us in such a way that we strived to be the best in order to show that wonderful coach how much they had taught us. The image of an awesome coach in sports is the same for sales: Teach and above all… encourage!
Gwen Hayes, High Voltage Business & Personal Effectiveness Coach: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: (416) 264-6162
What is a coach? A coach is an expert who helps people get what they most want, in a healthier, more productive and sustainable way. If you need help sorting out business or personal problems, you can hire a coach — a new kind of advisor who will strategize with you in weekly sessions held in person, on the telephone or by e-mail. It’s not therapy and all coaches are consultants — but not all consultants are coaches.
When your boss asks you to coach someone, what she’s likely asking you to do is help the individual enhance their success, get more of something (sales, profits, money, time, happiness, success) or less of something (frustration, toleration, delays) into their work life.
Coaching is becoming very popular as our time becomes more valuable. Few of us can afford a steep learning curve. What would it be like for your rep to hit all her targets this year?
How do you go about it? Well, coaching is an alliance that is designed to focus on maximizing opportunities, not just to solve problems. Coaches are experts in people and success, and having the right coach gives a person a competitive advantage.
The best athletes all have a coach that they’ve bonded with, who brings out their best, and professional coaches believe everyone deserves to have that. Coaches learn the language of coaching, to support, encourage, acknowledge, challenge and celebrate successes. Coaches are expert strategists and attentive listeners — we listen for what you’re saying, what you want to say, and what you’re not [saying]. And most importantly, coaches have learned to completely let go of their own personal agendas so they can support their client from a place of compassion and non-judgement.
Leaders, mangers and supervisors can all learn to use a coaching approach, but it’s important to understand that coaching works because of the synergy resulting from a professional partnership. Being a coach gives the rewards of continuing personal and professional development because coaching is truly inter-developmental.
You may use a coaching approach already in your day-to-day interactions, but if you want to be a coach, I’d suggest some training. It’s a rapidly growing, highly specialized field. Coach U is the leading coach-training organization in the world, giving its students an edge by continuously developing new conceptual language, models and tools, and regularly updating its curriculum. For Coach U Certification, a coach needs 1000 hours of documented coaching, graduation from Coach U’s rigorous 3 year-curriculum, 15 letters of recommendation from clients and a written thesis defended in an oral review.
There are about 45 Coach U coaches in Ontario and a total of 137 across Canada who are listed on the Coach U Referral system right now. It’s certainly worth a look: http://www.coachu.com — or you can send me an email for a free coaching consultation to get you started.
Douglas A. Kemp
My response to your question is as follows:
Congratulations. Your boss obviously has respect for your skills and experience.
Coaching is often about observing and helping someone see things that they may not see themselves — things that are preventing them from performing at their peak. It helps if the coach and the ‘performer’ agree about the goals.
Step one. Explain to your boss that ‘coach’ can mean different things to different people and that you would like to be clear about what your boss expects of you and whether he has some specific goals or objectives for her. In addition, find out if there are any areas he is concerned about. Also, keep in mind that sometimes coaching assignments can be a test of the coach’s managing skills. His answers to your questions should give you some clues as to how far you should go with the coaching assignment.
Step two. While it sounds like your new rep is enthusiastic, you should make sure she wants a coach and you should outline what you’ll try to do for her, what she can expect from you and what you expect of her.
Assuming she does want your help, talk to her about her professional goals and objectives. Then talk to her about how she plans to achieve her objectives. If there are aspects of her plan that sound weak, ask her if she considered other options and if so how she came to her plan of action. Then watch her execute the plan. Remember it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as they are small mistakes. Small mistakes can be a learning experience. Then, on a regular basis, assess how you feel she is doing, ask her how she feels she is doing and ask your boss how he feels she is doing. Give her your observations and work with her to adjust her plan accordingly.
Coaching can be a rewarding experience. You have an opportunity to help someone else and, as you work through things with her, you just might learn more about your own style and thought process” Relax and have fun.
I never had a coach per se, but one ex-manager helped me out with some sales strategies when I asked how to make multi sales from every potential life insurance client. I gave him, Al Johnson, my feedback the next day on successfully closing two sales from one prospect. I sold the prospect a life insurance policy and in the event of accident and sickness insurance company will pay his premiums as long as he was unfit to work for an additional $10/month for $400/mth. income benefit. My ex-manager was delighted. My sales doubled as well as my income.
The advice he gave me was a copy of Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ paperback. I practiced the timeless principles in it. Then later he taught me the timeless and transferable selling principles from Lee Dubois’ ‘Professional Selling Techniques’.
So please show the rookie transferable prospecting and selling skills — these will give the rookie confidence and she will be less [of a] burden on you. She will become more independent and will thank you for introducing her to the sales business the right way in the years to come.
Hope this lessens the burden.
Mike Scott, Marketing Manager
If you’re good at selling, (and I assume you are since you’ve been doing it for 20 years and were asked to be the coach), let the new person watch and listen to you make sales presentations for one week. This should represent somewhere between five and 15 presentations, depending on your product line, prep time, etc.
After each presentation, (preferably RIGHT after, while everything is fresh in both your minds), let the newbie ask all the questions she wants. Invite her to take ‘superfluous’ notes (i.e., lots of notes) while you explain in infinite detail why you said and did everything you did and said.
Illustrate how you answered questions before they were asked. (You know your stuff.)
Point out how you used silence at key moments to let your prospect absorb information. (You’re not pressuring anyone into a purchase.)
Show how you not only defused objections to things like price, but actually turned them around into benefits like ‘long life, greater reliability, higher status, employee satisfaction, corporate status’ and so on. (You’re an expert, have many happy customers who also were not sure what decision to make until they met you!
Ask if she noticed how you ‘asked for the order’ in several subtle ways, and didn’t relent in your presentation until you got a positive response … or at least no more negative ones.
Look in the library or a bookstore for a good book on selling and read about all the things you’ve been doing well, ‘intuitively’, for the last 20 years. You’ll be proud of yourself for having ‘lived the book’ in real life … and you may just pick up a few good selling tips yourself, because, as you know, you never stop learning how to sell!
Preet Dhillon, HR Professional
First make sure you carefully take a look at her job description and resume to see where she is at in terms of her skills, strengths, experience. Arrange a meeting with her to discuss what she feels she needs help on and where she thinks you could help her out. In the sales field, coaching would probably involve showing her the sales strategies that have worked for you (if you have established clients), giving her tips on dealing with them, and guiding her growth in the career field. Just let her know you are always there if she has questions, concerns or input that can be valuable to the team. Good luck.
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