Leading and Coaching the Team

Posted: 28/09/2012

In the second article of this series, we look at the need for sales leaders to lead and coach the sales team.

The best starting place is the question: ‘What makes a sales leader?’

The answer is a combination of skills and qualities that include:

  • Business knowledge and acumen
  • Understanding People
  • Sales Skills
  • Coaching
  • Knowing when to provide direction and support

These are skills and qualities the modern-day sales leader needs. This is no longer an individual that simply ’motivates’ the team to achieve target. This is a professional who asks the question ‘what could be?’ recognises business opportunities, then  develops individuals and teams that will break performance barriers.

In this economy, successful businesses understand the need for sales leaders who have the business acumen to set strategy that retains existing customers and generates new business. These qualities must be combined with the skills to develop and coach teams that deliver in these areas.

Coaching has a major part to play. There are three areas in which sales leaders can be truly effective as a coach:

  • Field Visits: working with individuals in customer situations
  • One-to-One Meetings: working with individuals on performance, career goals and personal development
  • Team Meetings: creating monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly events that ‘stimulate, motivate and educate’ the team

This blog will focus on field visits.

Field visits are one of the most effective ways for sales leaders to engage with their teams. However, the impact and value Field Visits have on performance is often underestimated because many sales leaders are never shown how to make a field visit.

The first thing I would challenge any sales leader to think about is:

What is a day of your time worth?

If you are going to spend a day working in the field with one of your team, then what does that cost? £500, £2,000, £1,500, or £5,000? More importantly, what return does the sales leader get from the investment?

The second key question to answer is: what type of field visits are you doing? There are three types:

  • Action Visits: a visit to a customer to support or help with a specific challenge
  • Random Visits: a visit at short notice which provides a snap shot of how the sales person is planning and implementing the day Scheduled Visits: a day in which the sales leader becomes the business coach. This is a day that is part of a structured coaching programme, a time when the sales leader activates the coaching plan that should be developed for each member of the team
  • For years, we have come across sales leaders who are committed to action visits, but fail to understand the need, and leadership responsibility, to implement scheduled visits. The most common excuse for this is:

‘My experienced people don’t need coaching!’

A scheduled visit programme should be built around the development needs of each member of the team, but there should a standard that says every member of the team will have a Scheduled Visit monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

What makes a good scheduled visit?

Four things you should focus on are:

  1. Planning the Day

  2. Making sure you see the sales person in customer situations where you can coach

  3. Coaching, not selling

  4. Leaving the sales person with a summary that reviews the day and sets ‘post visit objectives’

Remember the acid test of a Field Visit is the answer to the question:

After your visit, what will your sales people do differently?

Being able to answer this depends on what you can do differently.

Browse our website for more information on how to be the best sales leader you can be, as well as our sales training products and services

If you have any questions or enquiries, contact us at sales@tlsa.co.uk

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