Like we pointed out in last week’s blog on helping the sales team finish the year strong, Q4 is not the time to sit back and rest on your laurels. In fact, from a sales manager’s point of view, this is a prime time to dive deep into those sales coaching initiatives - especially if you’ve been putting them off all year.
• Was there one-on-one time you promised your sales associates but never actually delivered?
• What about individual and team goal setting, and creating actionable points to achieve those goals…did you ever dedicate the time?
• If you did set individual or team goals, did you forget to schedule a follow-up meeting to hold individuals accountable? (Hint: If you don’t follow through, it tends to have a trickle down effect and your team could take you and your initiatives less seriously.)
Regardless of how well you have or haven’t done on the coaching front all year until this point, take this opportunity to hit the reset button and start fresh. Take actionable steps now to prepare your team for next year, so that everyone can hit the ground running in 2014.
Spend some time studying metrics for the first three quarters – what did your team do well, and in what areas could they stand to improve? Make notes of desired team improvement goals.
Once you’ve made those observations, drill deeper to determine which individuals made the most impact on those results – good, bad or indifferent. Make a list of the “indifferent” ones. Focus on those first.
Schedule one-on-one time with the indifferent, or middle performers. These associates typically make up about 60 percent of your sales team and it is with this group that your coaching efforts will have the most impact. Even a small improvement within this group could net big bottom line results.
This is not to say you should neglect the top or lower level performers; they should be included in your year-end assessment as well. Just start in the middle and work your way through meeting with the rest of the team. And when we say schedule meetings, we mean put a specific time on the calendar – an informal “Hey, let’s meet next week” is a surefire way to guarantee that it doesn’t happen.
Thoroughly prepare yourself for each one-on-one meeting. You should be armed with proof points including key metrics and measurable data to validate your coaching. The better prepared you are, the higher quality your session will be – and the more your sales rep will glean.
But don’t leave it there. End the meeting with clearly defined action steps. Provide strategies and tactics they can practice now and confidently implement in the new year. Jointly agree on and confirm your expectations. Schedule a follow-up meeting.
Follow through and make the follow-up meeting happen! Improvement and change don’t happen without reinforcement. This will help you measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Plan a team meeting and outline the overall team goals you noted in Step 1. Also, make everyone aware of the fact that each individual now has things to work on and improve before the new year starts. This levels the playing field and spreads the accountability over the team.
Most of all, this will help you set the tone for a successful 2014. Now is the time to turn over that new leaf, putting yourself in position to carry those coaching initiatives into the new year.
For more year-round sales coaching tips, take a look at our Critical Sales Coaching™ program.