Few sales organizations provide proper sales training, even fewer focus on sales coaching. Sales training is useless without the re-enforcement of managers on the front line coaching to those same skills, and ensuring that those skills transfer to the field. Mark Roberge, in his book the Sales Acceleration Formula, made the following observation about sales coaching:
“Effective sales coaching by sales managers is the most important lever to drive sales productivity.”
While this could be a mulit-page post on sales coaching, I want to focus on one of they key things that helped my coaching of reps and managers become more effective, the JOT.
Yes, JUST ONE THING.
A great coaching program is an individualized curriculum on a per rep basis. The most practical way to kick start this and track the progress is to focus all of your efforts on finding a JOT and improving on it until you’re ready to move on to the next JOT.
1) Diagnosing the JOT.
2) Prescribing a solution
3) Tracking progress.
4) Moving on to the next JOT
Diagnosing the JOT
The goal here is to figure out the one skill tht the sales rep is missing today that will help take them to the next level.
It may sound obvious, but it’s a step that many sales managers struggle to do accurately. Managers will notice that there’s a disconnect between effort and results, but they won’t be able to correctly identify the issue.
The key here is to be curious, observe the rep, ask tons of questions to see what they are doing, and really dig into the numbers. Using metrics is crtiical to make sure you’re diagnosing at the right step in the process. I’ve seen countless managers jump in to coach reps on later stage skills like closing, when the real hang-up for the rep was early stage skills like prospecting or cold calling.
Yet again, Mark Roberge is spot on, he says, “Use metrics to diagnose which skill development area will have the biggest impact on a salesperson’s performance. Customize the coaching plan to that skill area. Execute ‘metrics-driven sales coaching.'”
Prescribing the solution
Once you’ve identified the main skills gap (the JOT), and you’ve communicated it to the rep. The next step is to prescribe them a solution. Each rep will learn differently, so you may have to test a variety of techniques. As an employer, if you’re not sure how this is done, you could enlist the assistance of someone from Hansen Beck (for more info, click on hansenbeck.com). If this is not your cup of tea, here are some common approaches that can work:
- Have an open discussion with the salesperson that’s being coached to see how they think they can improve the skill in question! Don’t jump into prescribing a solution without getting their opinion and buy-in first!
- Having the rep shadow another salesperson who is successful with that particular skill. Make them write down scripts based on what the other rep is doing.
- Role Play with the sales person
- Role Play with the sales person in a group setting, so they can see how other sales people handle the situation.
As with many things in sales, you’re going to want to track your JOT’s for each rep, and your progress over time. The simplest way to do this would be to create a google doc for coaching. Track each reps progress as the move from one JOT to the next, and use another tab for head setting notes so you can get concrete examples of each rep improving each skill on the phones.
The value of tracking these skills is that you can use this progress to motivate a rep that might be slow to getting results. If you’re in a sale with a longer sales cycle and the sales person is getting frustrated that they are not seeing results, you can show them all the progress they are making via the JOT.
On the flip side, tracking JOT’s over time is also a way to structure a conversation with a sales person that is not progressing.
Moving on to the next JOT
Once you’ve seen enough progress on the skill you initially identified, congratulations you’ve had a small victory! Celebrate with that sales person and then go back to the drawing board to see what skill you can help them improve on next.