Field coaching is one of the most important – and leverageable – ways sales managers can invest their time, and the ability to conduct an effective joint sales call is an absolutely critical skill set for any sales manager.
Here's the good news. Many sales organizations are placing more emphasis on sales coaching skills than ever before.
Now the bad news. Without solid sales coaching skills training, most sales managers – especially those who were promoted due to being top salespeople – aren't necessarily as prepared as possible to deliver quality field coaching.
I could go on and on about the finer points of sales coaching (individualized development plans, understanding how each rep is "wired," funnel management, the best way to conduct sales meetings, etc.), but instead, I'm going to give you 3 nuts and bolts – ways to maximize a joint sales call.
Joint Sales Call Effectiveness Tip #1: Don't give the sales rep too much advanced notice.
It's basic human nature. People want to look good and avoid embarrassment, especially sales reps. So... how does a rep make sure that happens relative to a day of ride-alongs? By setting up meetings only with "cherry" accounts, prospects who are ready to close, and with customers with whom they have strong relationships.
Now, don't be mistaken. I'm not advocating bushwhacking your salespeople. I'm simply suggesting you give the rep enough time to know you'll be joining them on calls while at the same time keeping an eye toward avoiding TOO much advanced preparation on their end.
Joint Sales Call Effectiveness Tip #2: Clearly define roles before each and every meeting.
Great. So you've decided which rep needs coaching and you've had them set up a day of joint calls... with the appropriate amount of notice. While the desired outcome is to improve the salesperson's skill set, it's important to remember who these calls are about: the prospect. Your purpose of being there needs to be clearly defined for the prospect or customer on the front end of the call. The last thing that needs to happen is to throw the prospect off by having the manager silently staring at the rep, taking notes, while he or she works with the prospect. Weird and awkward.
There are 3 roles a sales manager can play on a joint sales call:
- The observer: the sales manager is there to provide support and, in the prospect's eyes, show a higher level of corporate support for the opportunity.
- The co-op: the sales manager and the salesperson take on different segments of the call. Perhaps the manager engages in asking questions, while the salesperson provides recommendations based on the answers to those questions.
- The lead: the sales manager drives the call, modeling the best way to work with the prospect, while the salesperson observes and potentially contributes from time to time.
Joint Sales Call Effectiveness Tip #3: Give feedback IMMEDIATELY after each call. IMMEDIATELY.
Never underestimate the power of curbside coaching. Give the salesperson feedback immediately following the call while the details of the meeting are fresh in his or her mind.
Questions to ask:
- What went well?
- What didn't?
- What did the salesperson observe?
- What are the next steps for the salesperson to take to move the prospect through the sales process?
- What's the single biggest take-away from this call?
There's obviously much more to joint sales calls then I've covered here. That said, I've found that our readers really appreciate bottom-line lists and practical take-aways, so enjoy.