Firstly, very many sales professionals think sales coaching is the same as sales training or mentoring. But in sales coaching you should note that there are professional standards from a professional coaching association.
Importantly, do you ever wonder if trainers and mentors actually learn the skills of “training” and “mentoring”? Likewise, do coaches learn to be a “coach” or do they wake up one morning and put on the coaching hat?
For most part I’m hoping in this article/blog that you will learn the differences between training, mentoring and coaching, so that you can find what best suites you
Basically sales training is like it says, it’s training which deals with all the skills, education and everything that a salesperson has to learn to become a sales professional.
Over all you will learn skills such as the sales process, how to listen and ask questions, how to determine needs and wants, how to present, how to ask for the order, how to negotiate, rapport building and the list goes on, etc.
Apparently, 87% of sales training is forgotten, given that if you don’t use it, you loose it.
Never the less each person learns differently based on their own ability – are they visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners? Are they able to focus or do they get distracted quite a bit?
Obviously, the ability to retain information is different for each person. In any case the training must address each persons ability to learn. And of course, the trainer makes a big difference as well.
Learning New Skills
The best way to learn the skills specifically is over a long period of time whenever you can incorporate what you learn into practice. The skills you learn must become part of your being.
Take “listening” for example: Everyone can listen but how do you react to what you are hearing? Are you acknowledging what the person is saying and if so, how do you properly acknowledge in a way which will make the other person feel that you get them? What words do you say?
Are you listening for “tells” the information that you need in order to help them solve their problems while paying attention for their motivation to buy? Unless you are able to ask the proper questions then the follow up questions, how you going to find this out? This is only one example of a skill which in itself takes a long time to master. Now imagine all the skills out there!
Are You Practicing and Rehearsing?
Another key point in sales training is practicing or rehearsing. Hopefully, there is practice/rehearsal because it will allow the salesperson to refine their skills like a dancer or sports athlete. Practice should be part of regular training because it will makes you perfect your trade. By at large it seems that not too many sales professionals actually practice. Even sales veterans should practice and review what they say, but sometimes ego gets in the way.
The most compelling evidence of this, was me watching each morning my colleague arriving at 7am at the office with his team. At this time they would practice and practice their presentations to perfect them. Guess what? He was the top sales person in the office followed by his other team members.
My motivation to write this blog came after watching a YouTube video called “Does Sales Coaching Work”, which was an interview done by Nicole Attias of PROSPECT2WIN on her Youtube channel. The interview was with a sales professional who has experience working with many coaches and he was giving advice on how to hire a coach.
Many people have their own definition of coaching. This sales professional said that he “wants a coach who is also a sales professional who had found success and has gone down the same path and therefore can coach him on how to find success”, or something like that. He just described what mentoring is.
A mentor is someone that has experience in a field and guides a person in the same way so that they too can find success. What he called coaching is actually mentoring.
Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor.A mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee.
Based on his definition of coaching Muhammed Ali’s coach mush have been a boxer and world champion? Does a great football coach have to have played on a championship team to coach a champion? He also said that he want’s the person to hold him accountable and help him overcome hurdles.
Guess what, someone who is mentor has no coaching skills unless they actually have been trained in coaching.
My pet peeve is when someone puts on the coaching hat and starts giving meaningless advice that they think is the key to someone else’s problem. So there is this guy I know who is great at speaking looks good on the camera. He is a self appointed real estate coach that markets well and knows nothing about what he is doing. His advice on achieving a goal is to “identify what it is you want to achieve and only focus on that”. Well, how about what gets in your way when trying to achieve a goal like getting distracted, then focusing on something else?
If it was so easy, most people would achieve their goals, so why are there professors and researches that spend their entire career on the science of achieving goals? My point being, that coaching is not putting on a coaching hat deciding you want to be a coach.
What is Sales Coaching?
In order to understand what sales coaching is, you have to understand what coaching is in general because coaching is a skill in itself where you have to study, be trained and practice.
Regardless as to whether you coach salespeople, do life or relationship coaching – the basics are the same.
There is a definition of coaching based on the (ICF) International Coaching Federation which is the main association for coaches. Coaches must adhere to the ICF Core Competencies and the ICF Code of Ethics. There are standards and levels that coaches must achieve.
Have you ever asked a sales trainer or mentor how do you get out of a sales slump, which isn’t the easiest thing to do? It would be like asking a plumber how to change a electrical plug – they may know or have an idea on how to do it, but they are not an expert.
Although, you might get some good sales training, it’s the coaching that will help you use and refine it.
This is what coaches help with.
Sales Coaches Think Outside the Box
For example this is how a coach can help a client. One of my clients when meeting with a prospect becomes scared, looses control and freezes up. We had to find a solution that would help her overcome this.
I was able to help her come up with a solution. Becoming scared was the trigger so something had to be done when she felt this way. How do you “not” lose control? What do sales people do to take control? They ask questions.
Together, we came up with a few questions that she can ask as soon as she became scared. Surprisingly, by asking these questions she was able to have a conversation which led to rapport. All in all, her confidence and comfort level went up, and the freezing up came to an end.
Very simple. This in only one little example of how sales coaches help their clients. This is something that trainers and mentors do not usually know how to deal with.
Sales coaches ask questions to dig below the surface and as a result their clients become aware and many things and that in itself can make a change.
Sales Coaches Dig Below The Surface
When I was studding to become a coach one of my colleagues was feeling low because his sales were down and he lost his motivation. I asked him what is going on. Then he told me that he isn’t motivated that all he does is work. Then I asked him “if all you do is work, what do you think is missing?” He thought for a minute and told me that he used to love playing guitar and that he hasn’t seen his daughter in month. All of sudden the light came on in his head.
The next day, at my surprise he came into the office then rushed to see me. He was so excited to tell me that the previous evening he finally called his daughter and made arrangements to see her as well as picking up his guitar. It was like he won the lottery.
Although, he moved companies I was able to see that his sales increased and that he found life again. Sometimes it can just be a little awareness.
Sales coaches help their clients go inside themselves to a place that they can’t get to on their own.
But their is so much more.
What Sales Coaches Actually Help You With?
Below is a list of some of the areas where coaches help their clients in order to find success:
Hopefully you can now see that sales coaching, mentoring or coaching – differences which will allow you to choose what you need. Where sales training is about education learning the skills and practicing; mentoring is about working under someone to learn from their experience; and, sales coaching is the underlying element that will take you from where you are to over the top by dealing with the stuff that the other two areas can’t help you with.
Lastly, all professional coaches learn the coaching skills to help their clients excel regardless of their hurdles. Coaches then decide which niche they want to work in. Mine being sales coaching because my entire life has been about selling.
I didn’t wake up one morning and put on a coaching hat because I wanted to be a coach. I went through a ICF accredited coaching school and put my time in. Professional coaching is profession that you study, train and practice. I wish you much success.