There is a science to the art of selling that sets some minimum skills for a person to become excellent at the job. Books may describe these minimum skills but mere textbooks may have a hard time getting these skills ingrained into your system. Only experience can really do that. It’s great if you have been selling stuff since you were five. By the time you reach 20, you’re likely to be selling some really juicy stuff that can keep your wallet plump and your ego satisfied. However, if you started selling rather late, the only way you can speed up the process of really learning all the tricks in the book is to vicariously absorb someone else’s experience or be goaded to near perfection by someone who knows the terrain.
That is where a good sales coach comes in. If you have been a salesperson for some time, chances are high that you already know how rewarding, fulfilling, and frustrating the world of sales can be. If you have achieved some measure of sales success, it is also likely that you have learned not a few techniques from someone who–knowingly or unknowingly–has been a sales coach or mentor to you. Whether it is about how to get your numbers in order or how to make a good first impression on clients, your sales coach have been pivotal to your growth and performance as a salesperson.
The most ideal scenario is quite familiar: a new recruit working his or her way up the ladder and eventually getting under the wings of a wise and sympathetic sales veteran. Count yourself lucky if you found yourself in this rare and fortunate turn of events. This situation is rare simply because there are a lot of sales neophytes who do find themselves partnering with sales veterans, who, unfortunately are not as sympathetic or wise as they would have hoped. There are also greenhorns who eventually partner with sympathetic coaches who, unfortunately, either lack the communicative skills to share their knowledge or are in serious need of some training themselves.
Regardless of whether you are under the wings of a veteran office peer or have acquired the services of a professional coach, there are fundamental attitudes that you need to adopt in order to make the learning process more productive and more meaningful. When you start on a coaching relationship and you are the one being coached, remember to establish goals and expectations at the onset in order for both you and your coach to draw up the appropriate engagement plans.
The adage that a good sales person is a good listener rings no less true when applied to a sales coaching relationship. If anything, listening skills are actually most needed in this particular relationship in order to turn the engagement into a transformative platform that will propel you to achieve success levels you have only dreamed about before. Remember that working harder is often inadequate to achieve the next level. Only learning new rope tricks from people who have been there can really bring you a notch higher.
Aside from attentive listening, you must force yourself towards meaningful improvement. This means admitting your weaknesses as a sales professional and being open to developing new positive work habits that your sales coach will ask you to learn. Simply put, this means that you should will yourself to change.
It’s your sales coach’s job to push and challenge you until it hurts and you have to commiserate by having the professional agility to roll with the punches. Otherwise, the relationship could develop into one of resentment, and nobody wins in the end. Argue and be honest about what you feel but remain anchored in the knowledge that being a pain in the neck is only incidental in performing the job of a sales coach. Your sales coach’s true mission is to goad you until you unlock a secret. And whatever this secret is, it will take you to the next level of your professional journey. At the very least, appreciate the fact that someone is goading you to perform beyond any of your previous successes and take every opportunity to leverage your coach’s energy to your advantage.
As a credit to yourself, develop the constant awareness that sales coaches generally work with people with considerable selling potential and that you happen to be one, yourself. That said, a sales coach is there to ensure that you consistently generate only outstanding results. There simply is no room for mediocrity. Think of your coach as an Olympic trainer, and yourself as an Olympic-grade sales professional. Nothing but world-class performance is acceptable; and that should be an all-pervading target.
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