Sales coaching is a hot topic lately. There are articles, webinars, and podcasts all over the place that talk about how to be a better coach.
But it seems that we’ve forgotten the other half of the equation: the person being coached!
Sure, there are a lot of sales coaches out there, but there are a lot more salespeople and team members being coached.
Let’s talk about how you can be a better coachee.
What Does It Mean to be Coachable?
Leaders and managers often talk about the value of a coachable salesperson. From their perspective, there are a few reasons why they are looking for coachable people:
- Sales leaders are successful when their people are successful, and if they hire someone who isn’t open to improvement, then there’s little they can do to improve the results of the organization. That’s frustrating for them and it’s easier to not hire that person in the first place.
- It’s rare that someone comes into a new position and is a complete rockstar right out of the gate. There are always areas that need improvement. So if a new salesperson isn’t 100% successful and also isn’t open to sales coaching, the only solution is to fire that salesperson. And that turnover is inefficient and expensive.
- Coaches are human. They often have limited time and resources. If they know that the time spent with you will have an impact, then they will spend that time.
But the most important reason to be coachable? Easy.
Career growth is exactly what it says it is: growth. It’s a process of gradual development and improvement. If you want to improve your skills, win more business, and make more money, then you have to be willing to grow. And coaching is one of the most effective ways to drive that evolution.
5 Ways to Leverage Your Sales Coaching
1. Take Responsibility for Your Coaching
If you are passively waiting to be coached, you are missing the point. Coaching is how YOU get better in YOUR career. Nobody is going to care about your professional success more than you. Don’t wait for coaching to happen, go get it.
Ask your manager to coach you. They might not see coaching as a priority, so be sure to approach them and tell them you want coaching. If they can’t or won’t, find someone who can and will – even if you have to go out and get your own. And once you have it on the calendar, stay focused and make sure it continues. Good coaching is a process, not a one-time event. So take responsibility for making sure it keeps happening.
2. Be Prepared for the Conversation
When you do have coaching conversations, don’t show up aimless and unprepared. The quality of your pre-meeting preparation will have a direct impact on how effective your coaching will be. Collect any results or reports that will help your coach uncover opportunities and challenges. That way you won’t spend the first part of the conversation trying to get an accurate picture of what is happening.
Even better, go into your meeting with questions that have come up since your last sales coaching session. Your coach should have topics to cover, but this is your time, so bring your concerns and questions so that you have a jumping-off point.
3. Curtail Your Defensiveness
It’s a central irony in coaching: feedback is a key ingredient of improvement, but our instinct is to get defensive when someone points out what we could do better. This is made even worse by the fact that most salespeople have pretty strong egos. That helps with the challenges of rejection but it stymies open and honest reflection.
The more open you are to actually “hearing” what your coaching is sharing, the more likely you are to take action. It’s hard to hear someone point out your mistakes and areas of opportunity, especially when the biggest growth comes from our blindspots. But the only way you are going to improve is by engaging with those areas.
4. Clarify Your Plan Before You Leave
Good coaching is inherently action-oriented. If you are just chatting about your prospects and customers with your manager, that’s not coaching. The whole goal is to change something about what you are doing, how you are doing it, or why you are doing it.
As you get to the end of your conversation, take note of what your next steps are. This is also a key step in making sure that there is clarity from your conversations. You want to be clear with what you are supposed to do, because then your coach can help keep you accountable when you meet again.
5. Take Action Immediately
The most important thing you can do after your coaching session: something! If your activities and approach after your meeting are the same as before, you and your coach wasted their time. You don’t need to completely transform what you are doing, but take action on the steps that you agreed to with your coach.
It will feel a little uncomfortable, but that means that you are growing. And more importantly, by implementing new ideas you will have a whole new list of ideas and questions to cover with your coach the next time you talk.
Done right, sales coaching is a continuous process. If you keep at it and stay consistent, eventually you’ll find yourself much further along in your career. Your skills will improve. Your attitude will improve. And your results will improve.