Increasing Sales by Reinforcing Progress

To get the biggest impact out of every coaching session you must commit yourself to reinforcing progress. Doing so will accelerate your salespeople’s development and increase sales.

You can’t fully measure the impact of a coaching session until the actions and commitments made during the session become a reality. Your job is to make sure that the skills and practices you discuss during the coaching sessions become a part of how your salespeople do their job. If you find your coaching sessions are return trips to the same problems, you are probably making one of five basic mistakes.

1. Failure to set up clear and specific expectations or not letting the salesperson know exactly what you want done differently.

2. Giving the salesperson too much to work on that he/she become overwhelmed.

3. Failing to develop the salesperson’s skills to perform the assigned tasks or responsibilities.

4. Failing to give a reward for doing the new behavior.

5. Failing to provide negative consequences for continuing to use the old behavior.

Helping salespeople learn and apply new skills requires regular and specific monitoring and reinforcement. To get what you expect you must inspect and reward the behavior you want. This requires a discipline and commitment to identifying the key behaviors that have the biggest impact on your people’s performance.

One point to keep in mind is that salespeople can’t develop a new behavior until they have performed it successfully and are rewarded for doing so. Major behavior changes require frequent successes and considerable rewards.

Effective managers know that it is important to reward progress as well as absolute attainment of a goal. Recognition for making progress reinforces the change that has occurred and keeps the salesperson focused and motivated to continue changing.

Trainers of killer whales start training the whales to jump out of the water by first teaching them how to cross over a bar at the bottom of the pool. As the whale becomes more confident and trusting of the trainer, the bar gets raised higher. First, they learn to cross the bar under the water, and then above it. After each successful attempt the whale receives a reward.

A manager once asked me, “Is it really necessary for me to make a big deal when my salespeople make progress?” I answered him by saying, “Only if you want them to fully succeed.”

To increase sales you must have salespeople who are well-trained and perform at a high level. Your job as a sales manager is to train, develop and coach them until they perform at the highest level possible. Reinforcing progress along the way is essential for making sure the salespeople achieve their full potential.

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Phil Faris is a business development consultant, coach, speaker and author. He is president of Phil Faris Associates a firm that specializes in helping organizations hire, train, develop, lead and retain the sales talent required to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Phil has developed a reputation as a “performance improvement doctor” for his ability to help organizations improve their financial health by diagnosing performance issues and then prescribing strategies that produce measurable results.
Phil is the author of the following books: Hiring Winners, Building Customer Partnerships, Training Winners, 50 Activities for Sales Training and Upping the Down Side. He has also written numerous articles on sales, leadership and personal development.
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