If you’re a sales leader, my advice for you to coach sales effectively is to respect the salesperson’s perspective before you begin.
They might say to themselves: “it’s hard to be coached by my boss because she doesn’t respect what I have to say, especially since I haven’t invited her to coach me in the first place.”
If you want to coach sales effectively, remember this simple tool: PLAYBACK.
Each letter of this acronym stands for a word that represents the steps you can use as a guide to successful coaching.
Use the PLAYBACK Tool to Coach Sales
P – Permission to coach.
Before beginning the coaching dialog, ask permission. It might sound something like, “hey Laura, would it be OK to offer you some coaching?” Obviously, let them know what it is you want to coach them on. For example: the last joint sales call you both attended.
L – Listen to the other person.
Are they genuinely open for you to coach them? Are they open at this particular time? Can you see the world through their eyes?
To effectively coach sales, you need to appreciate their perspective throughout the coaching session.
A – Ask what they think.
In other words, give them an opportunity to describe the situation you are offering coaching on. For example, “I’d like to get your thoughts on how you did on that sales call.”
Ask if they agree to talk about the specific topics you want to discuss. For example, “I’d like to cover how you responded when the CEO asked you about our document management system,” or “why we left without agreeing to a follow-on meeting.”
Perhaps more importantly, ask them if they’d like to cover something about this issue. The salesperson, for instance, might say, “I think I rambled on too much when I was describing our process.”
You can continue this dialog until you both agree on specific points to cover in your coaching session.
Y – Your desired outcomes.
If you’re going to coach sales, have a goal in mind. Do you want to affect someone’s behavior in a positive way? Is your goal to remind them about something they forgot, like a critical step in your sales process? Do you want them to review a specific area in the company’s Sales PlayBook?
It’s a good idea for you to agree on a purpose for the coaching at the onset.
B – Back to them and their desired outcome.
Since you’ve just outlined what your desired outcome is for offering coaching, it’s a good idea to find out if they have one for themselves. As an example, “I’d like to learn how to discuss pricing more effectively,” or “I’d like to improve how I talk about the company, without sounding so ‘salesy.’” You don’t even have to place a limit on one outcome alone.
A – Ask clarifying questions.
Don’t assume that what you heard is what they meant. Some of the best coaching I’ve witnessed is when a coach asks, “can you clarify what you mean?”
For example, “can you clarify what you mean by you ‘rambled too much?’”
They might say, “I rambled because I didn’t fully understand the specific feature of our product that they asked about.”
With this additional information, you have more to work with and the potential to make a bigger contribution.
C – Coach.
Once you’ve received permission, have identified the specific areas to offer coaching, and understand how to contribute to the other person, then it is time to coach sales.
At this point, your suggestions will have maximum effect.
Do your best to coach while standing in their shoes, and even more importantly, allowing them to discover their “a-ha moments.”
You might say, for example, “let’s take a look at why you didn’t get that next step.”
You’ve given the other person a potential opening and they might say, “I realized right away that I waited until the end of the meeting and felt I’d lost the CEO’s attention as she was running to her next meeting.”
“OK, so what could you have done differently?” might be your response.
“I could have asked earlier, when I had her attention. Wow! Now I know, why that’s so important!”
This might be a good time to offer something specific, by saying “glad you saw that, Laura. I’d suggest going back to the section in the Sales PlayBook on How to Run a Meeting. That discovery you just made is outlined in more detail right there, but the most important part is that you figured this out for yourself.”
K – Key takeaways and agreements.
When you coach sales, find out how effective the conversation was and then agree on any follow up actions both of you will take.
- Did the other person get value from this discussion?
- Are either of you or both of you going to take action?
- Should you debrief on the actions each of you took?
Perhaps you should schedule a meeting to review this.
The PLAYBACK acronym has helped me improve whenever I am in a position to coach sales.