On the Job Training of Sales People

making salesRichard Stone, leading Sales Trainer and Coach from the Spearhead Training Group, provides the following 9 recommendations on the subject of effective on the job coaching for sales people.

One of the most effective ways for developing your sales team is to conduct a joint customer visit with your sales people. Such field based coaching is particularly beneficial after the sales team have attended a formal (classroom) based sales training programme, as it helps to ensure that the learning points from the course are implemented in subsequent sales meetings with customers.

1. For effective on the job coaching, you must accompany the sales person regularly. And by regularly I mean at least one to two days every six weeks. Only by doing this can you help the field sales person constantly improve. However, if your sales team are to benefit from on the job coaching you must not go with them as their manager, but simply as a mentor, developer and friend.

2. It is important that you choose the customers to visit. Ask the salesperson to give you a rough weekly schedule and choose interesting visits at short notice, otherwise you will be presented with un-challenging meetings. After all, you want to get to know a normal day's work and look at the “harder” meetings so you can help improve the sales person’s results.

3. Prepare yourself and your field sales person thoroughly. Before you go in to see the customer or prospect, discuss the customer’s current situation with the sales person. In addition discuss the reason for the visit, and the aim of the meeting. Also agree with your sales person in advance any discount that they can concede to the customer when they are negotiating with them.

4. At the client’s premises, do not be tempted to play the role of the boss. You should keep yourself in the background as much as possible so that you can experience how your sales person conducts him/herself in the meeting. Only by doing this can you later correct them during the subsequent de-briefing conversation. If you are addressed by the customer then tactfully pass the question back to the sales person to handle. However tempting it may be, do not solve problems raised by the customer yourself. Remember this is a sales training session and every gain you make for your image is a loss of standing for your sales person.

5. Let your sales person have the credit. Orders which are achieved during joint trips should always be recognised as achievements of the sales person and credited to them.

6. Do not start analysing the client meeting immediately after the visit. You can briefly mention the positive side of the meeting, but wait until later to have the real post-mortem - perhaps during a lunch break.

7. When giving feedback always start with praise to build up the sales person. Move to technical criticism and finally to questions about what the sales person would like to improve in the future (e.g by asking questions such as “How do you want to go about things in the future to optimise... ?”)

8. Agree two goals at the end of the day. Close the day with a summary and review the main points for improvement with the sales person. Agree no more than two goals with them and set a date for these to be completed within a maximum of four weeks. When concluding tell your sales person once again what you liked about their work.

9. Make sure you follow-up. Check that the agreed improvements have been made during the next joint visit. Praise any improvements and recognise the sales person’s achievements.

By following this cyclical 9 point process, your field based coaching will have the result of supporting continuous development and your sales people will become more skilled. The results they get will be better and they will have higher levels of motivation, creating a win-win situation for all involved!