From working with companies and sales organizations over the years, I've encountered and observed many sales managers and CEO's or Presidents who served in a sales leader role. I've learned many great things from them. However, some were not so good.
Many of them were and are strong, competent, knowledgeable business professionals. However, many were less than stellar sales coaches.
The reasons for this shortcoming were varied of course–lack of time, lack of desire, too much ego, not enough ego or simply not knowing how to go about it.
If there is one area of sales coaching that sales leaders could look to, to immediately increase their effectiveness and see a positive impact on their team's performance and results, it would be the competency of asking better questions of their people.
As an example, let's take a sales coaching conversation with a salesperson to review their sales pipeline. As a sales leader we're primarily interested in the following:
1) The quantity of deals they have in their pipeline
2) the quality of deals they have in their pipeline
3) The velocity of the deals in their pipeline
4) The forecasted revenue from closed business in the next 30-45 days
5) The action items being worked on to move specific deals forward to either a yes or no
There are lot's of questions to be asked about items 1-4. Let's say we want to focus on #5. What's a good question with which to begin the conversation?
When it comes to sales coaching questions, remember that vague, ambiguous, wishy-washy language will result in vague, ambiguous, wishy-washy questions that will yield zero information and waste everyone's time. If you want to ask effective, impactful questions, remember the 3 C's: Clear, Concise, Concrete.
Alright, so if we want to start the conversation re #5–what strategies, tactics is the salesperson working on to move a deal forward, what's the question? Try this–Instead of asking "What do you have going on?", ask this "Looking at your pipeline, when it comes to moving a deal forward or unsticking a deal that's been stuck, what opportunities can I help you move forward?" Much better.
Clear, concise, concrete. This question will get you to a 'data point' from which you can ask more great questions.
Actually, there are 4 C's to great coaching questions. The fourth "C" is Consistency. When you ask the same questions from meeting to meeting you are training your salesperson to be prepared to answer those questions and knowing what to expect in the session.
This was just one example of a great sales coaching question. Can you think of others?