A boss should be a coach not a, well, boss, say Steve Johnson and Adam Shaivitz, authors of a new book, Selling Is Everyone's Business: What It Takes to Create a Great Salesperson (Wiley/$24.95).
Here are a few tips from the book:
• A boss drives his people; a coach leads them.
• A boss depends on authority; a coach depends on goodwill.
• A boss inspires fear; a coach inspires enthusiasm.
• A boss uses people; a coach develops them.
• A boss lets his people know where he stands; a coach lets his people know where they stand.
• A boss takes the credit; a coach gives it.
The authors also say to make sure you're creating good habits in your sales people, not just measuring the numbers.
Yes, good sales numbers can be an indicator that a salesperson is following proven procedures and doing the action steps you've given them. But they could simply indicate a streak of good luck.
Create systems for ensuring sales people are developing and perfecting the right sales habits. For example, regular goal-setting meetings at which coach and salesperson together review previous performance and commit to a game plan and short-term action steps for the upcoming period. This helps you keep an eye on what sales people are doing consistently.
Good habits will carry your salesmen and women through the hard times as well as the easy times.
Regularly follow up with these three magic words: “How's it going?” The best coaches spontaneously and regularly follow up with their sales people by asking, “How's it going?” to check the status of goals, action steps, and skill areas.
“Deciding to use this question as a conversation starter did not come to us after reading a study by Harvard and MIT,” write the authors. “Rather, after watching thousands of coaches follow up with their people, we've found the ‘How's it going?’ approach to be the most effective.
They say it works best when coaches ask, “How's it going so far on your goal to ___________?”
Two helpful ensuing questions: “What's working for you so far?” and “What's not working for you?” Those three questions can yield plenty of helpful data.
The authors recommend coaching top sales performers, too. There is a myth in many sales organizations that sales coaches should just leave top performers alone. But often top-performing sales people can be the most open to sincere constructive feedback, because they know how hard it is to perform. And since they probably already have a solid sales process, they can easily incorporate new ideas to their existing approach.
Keep a public scoreboard. It tracks team performance in a motivating way.
The top 20% wants to stay where they are on the board. The middle 60% aspires to emulate top performers' goals and best practices. The bottom 20% quickly decides whether to move up or out.