Using positive reinforcement and support as part of sales coaching

By Henrik Troselius - December 11, 2018

In the cyclical sales process, after you've set your budget, your sales staff give performance statements, and you go through the review process, then you will be faced with identifying what is working and what is not. If you find there to be a disconnect in how your sales staff are feeling versus their actual results, or you can see a pattern where your team or an individual is struggling, then you'll likely need to step in as a leader. Part of being a good leader and encouraging growth in sales is coaching. Through coaching, you can help your staff to improve their performance - but there are right ways and wrong ways to implement it.

What is positive reinforcement in sales coaching?

You can think of positive reinforcement as focusing on the positives, instead of only harping on poor performance. When your sales staff excels at something, it should be noticed, and in some cases it would even be beneficial to showcase the success to the rest of your staff as a model or example of what they can incorporate into their own sales.

Coaching shouldn't be seen as negative or simply something you need to do when performance is bad. This will only give your sales staff uneasy feelings about coaching or their relationship to you. If you can actually focus on the positive, even when performance needs to be improved, you can foster an environment that celebrates growth and development, which in itself can boost performance.

Coaching as a supportive activity to the sales process

We recently discussed how reviews are one of the key elements in making the sales process a cycle: continuous evaluation and adjustment is what can ensure that the cycle keeps going, and engagement stays continuous. But without coaching, a cyclical process just goes round and round without making any positive changes. Where reviews help you identify opportunity, it is up to management to help their staff continue in an upward trajectory for results.

So, how can coaching be seamless and a natural part of the sales process? The first thing to consider is that it is not about control. Supporting your sales staff doesn't mean showing or telling them specifically how to do certain tasks, or relinquishing them from personal responsibility. On the contrary, effective coaching in a cyclical sales process can be a collaborative effort, in which guidance is facilitated but trust is emphasized in order to give your sales staff the autonomy and confidence to apply learnings on their own.

Then, when your sales staff is utilizing their coaching you can use positive reinforcement to ensure that they feel confident in what they are doing, or they are aware of opportunities for improvement. By approaching learning and development this way, as a natural part of the sales process, you can then ensure that support is ongoing and your sales staff are continually adapting and developing their skills.

The main thing to consider when implementing coaching, is how it fits into your overall strategy for improving sales performance and employee engagement. What we want you to see is how each step in the sales process builds on the ones before it, and sets the conditions for each subsequent step. When you establish the right goals and KPIs, then evaluate against those goals, you can then be more efficient and successful in delivering coaching that is a positive experience for all.

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