In One Ear and Out the Other: Why Your Sales 1:1s Aren’t Impactful

According to Merriam Webster, a “coach” is “one who instructs or trains.” Such a broad definition leaves a lot open to interpretation, making it easy to see why there are so many different styles of coaching, especially when it comes to sales.

For “instruction” and “training” to be effective, sales managers must find a way to get reps to listen and take what they learn in their 1:1s and apply it to their day-to-day activities. Of course, this is much easier said than done, especially when you consider the following statistics:
– Only 12% of learners apply what they learn in training to their actual jobs
– 62% of managers believe that they are not doing a good job meeting learners’ needs
– Ineffective training costs companies $13.5 million a year per 1,000 employees

Clearly, for every successful sales coach, there are dozens of mediocre or misled managers. So how do you ensure that the golden nuggets bestowed upon your reps aren’t simply going in one ear and out the other? Read on for three harsh yet honest truths about why your coaching and sales 1:1s may not be as impactful as you would like.

You’re talking too much.

“But how do you instruct and train if you don’t talk?” you might ask. Good point, but think of it this way: would you rather a rep make 1,000 calls and book one meeting, or make 100 calls and book ten meetings? The same mentality of quality over quantity applies when providing feedback in your sales 1:1s.

Too often, sales managers fall into one of the below traps during 1:1s, causing them to spend too much time talking and not enough time listening:

1) One-sided Conversations: The most negative of all coaching tactics is to talk at a rep, rather than with him or her. During these conversations, managers spout off about all of the things they would have done differently if they were in the reps’ shoes, offering subjective feedback that provides little value.
2) Performance Evaluations: One of the most important things to remember about coaching is that it is not a performance evaluation. Sales 1:1s should never be spent providing play-by-plays of past behaviors and rehashing everything a rep did right or wrong.

To avoid become “that” manager, it’s important to listen more than you speak. This will allow you to uncover the true challenges and issues that your reps may be having, and provide more strategic and valuable advice. Before providing feedback, try this quick litmus test: is what you’re about to say going to contribute to your rep’s career development or performance improvement? If not, save your input and wait for a more impactful moment to speak.

You haven’t taught your reps to fish.

As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Fishing aside, this same sentiment applies when it comes to sales coaching. When sales 1:1s are spent reviewing reports and rehashing metrics, reps can quickly become passive participants.

The best sales managers ensure that their reps have access to key reports, and focus initial one-on-ones on teaching them how to effectively analyze their sales data and generate actionable insights on their own. Once this foundation has been laid, subsequent meetings can be spent coaching to the information that has been uncovered and helping reps optimize performance.

Fostering this level of rep accountability encourages reps to actively engage in the type of problem solving and strategy that should take place during these meetings. When your reps feel invested in managing their own performance, they self-diagnose issues, come to 1:1s prepared to talk about solutions and listen carefully to your advice.

You have a reputation as a micro-manager.

Have you ever felt micromanaged by someone? Anyone who has pretty much knows that this is the worst feeling ever. Constantly being put under a microscope and having your every move questioned and critiqued is nothing short of a nightmare.

According to the founder of The New Sales Coach and author of two best-selling books Mike Weinberg, managers get this reputation by focusing too much on rep activities, and not enough on results. “The key to holding reps accountable without micromanaging is that you start with results, and then you dig into the pipeline,” he revealed in a recent interview. “And if the pipe is healthy, full of opportunities and moving along, you never ask about a rep’s activity.”

Weinberg goes on to say that if a rep’s pipeline and results are not up to par, then it’s time to dig into their activities. And while this may feel like micro-management, at this point, it is constructive coaching. In this case, Weinberg suggests being upfront and transparent by telling this rep, “‘I hear you, and I don’t like doing this either. Once you improve your results and fill your pipeline, I won’t ask you, but until then, I will keep asking. Only you can change the way this meeting goes by doing your part of the job.’”

What Kind of Coach Will You Be?

It has been reported that effective sales coaching can increase win rate by as much as 25% – how cool would that be!? Don’t just dream of becoming this type of coach; be one by getting as close to your reps’ needs as possible. Following the tips proposed in this blog post is a great first step. Next, try downloading this free guide: 5 Reasons Why Your Reps Don’t Want to Use CRM (But Should!).

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