20Aug/130

Professional Selling: Who’s Coaching the Coach? By Barry Trailer

Posted by Barry Trailer

I'm certain for this readership that there is NO need to make the argument in favor of coaching. I think it's an almost equally safe bet that each of you has at least an informal coaching relationship, perhaps a mentor who holds you accountable, providing you with feedback and helping to further your growth and development.

But I do have a suspicion that you and your coach may be overlooking one critical area of your and your business' development: Sales.

In his groundbreaking work on mastery, George Leonard, details five keys to pursuing/attaining mastery: coaching, practice, surrender, attitude and excitement. I'll likely cover others of these in future articles but for now, we'll stick with the first key: get a coach.

There are four ways to improve performance: 1) having a coach; 2) playing with knowledgeable friends and peers; 3) practicing and 4) reading books/watching videos. And as each of you know, the first is miles ahead of the others in improving an individual's performance.

However, the coaching I'm speaking of with respect to sales is somewhat different than what most performance coaches focus upon. Yes, there can be a 360 review, but this should be objectively reviewing lead sources and their respective success (hit) rates; percentage of calls leading to a first meeting/presentation; percentage of proposals leading to a close; client satisfaction ratings, feedback and referrals. These are just a few of the key metrics your coach should be analyzing with you to see "how it's going."

In the first articles in this series I detailed the Perfect Prospect Profile and discussed how defining this and holding each new prospect up to it will help you attract and gauge new prospects. The PPP can include both demographic (e.g., industry vertical, employee size, geographic location) and psychographic (e.g., learning organization, win/win culture, appreciative) components. The suggestion is that you create a prospect hit-list and gather PPP information about the top ten or so names on your list.

Even if you don't have your prospect list created yet, reviewing the PPP criteria with your coach can be a valuable exercise. You can apply it to your current clients to determine opportunities for improved communication or early warning signs that may crop up with new clients as you begin to engage with them. And, of course, you may have a client or two that you need to fire but have not yet worked up the courage to do so. The PPP offers a basis for making an evaluation of whether an existing relationship is feeding you psychically as well as physically.

Do you have your PPP in place and do you use it as a yardstick (or meter stick) to measure with and against? That's great! Now move on in your discussion with your coach to look at your practice. This is both the verb—to practice—and the noun—your practice. You want to get feedback/coaching on your sales skills and the particular skill you're currently concentrating on developing. The skill you're practicing could be asking better/tougher questions, preparing more thoroughly for calls, penetrating accounts more fully, etc.

Then there is the practice that is a noun. Like other professionals, you have to ask yourself, "What is your practice development plan?" What is your target mix for new and existing clients? Large and small accounts? Local and remote clients? Each of these has an impact on your business and its ability to sustain down markets and/or the loss of one or more key clients. What is your plan and have you recently reviewed it with your coach?

As noted in the beginning, I'm certain for this readership there is NO need to make the argument in favor of coaching.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October Issue 2008, Volume 4, Issue 3). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.