MY SALES COACHING NOTES
[Note: These are actual notes made during sales coaching sessions with clients. I’ve stripped out any confidential or proprietary references in order to protect the client’s identity.
Sales coaching is a mysterious process for most salespeople.
That’s because most salespeople don’t ever get quality, dedicated coaching. Most sellers never work with any kind of mentor. This kind of sales coach is the kind of person who can help you double your income or otherwise rock your career.
If you’ve never had anyone looking after you in this way, you’ll be intrigued by the notes below.
The content below is a summary of a ride-along visit I did as sales coach. This summary was sent to the salesperson and the sales manager was cc'd.
Here are my notes from a visit with “Alan,” a top seller on my client’s sales team. This summary will give you an idea of the types of things we talked about during the visit and the lessons Alan uses to improve his sales. -Michael]
Here’s the email to my sales coaching client, “Alan”
Visit with your client, Steve
/9 AM meeting at Starbucks
/Works out of his house
/Has three kids
/2nd visit with client
/Steve has a client in China
/Was living in Atlanta and moved here because of his wife’s job
Alan, how much of the above info have you put into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software? It’s impossible to remember this type of detail about all your clients and prospects. Keystroke this info into your CRM and you’ll have great talking points for future visits.
You said our goal for this sales call was to “check in,” Alan. More about that below. You also told me that you like to deliver a different sales idea every month and that this month’s message is to promote a specific product.
I like that you have a fresh message to distribute to folks every month.
Key times during the meeting
9:20 Coffee’d up, small talk and “catch up” done
9:30 You go after new business, reference the next order
9:45 Both of you lean in, more participation
9:47 Steve demonstrates Thinker Pose (hand to chin), then speaks
9:51 You ask, “Questions?” Pause…. “I will send you”
9:52 Steve references “a customer that will need a lot of product”
9:55 Steve caps his pen, signalling the end of the meeting
10:00 You ask, “Am I missing anything?”
/What else can be done during these meetings to help establish connections and uncover selling opportunities?
/Alan, you said that this was not your first meeting with Steve. But you had to cover things you have previously discussed. Why didn’t Steve understand this stuff the first time you told him? How many times will he need to hear it? How can we make your info more easily digested?
/”Checking in” is not a goal. The very phrase is passive in nature. Every meeting is an opportunity for a micro-close if not a big ticket. Identify that micro-close in advance and you are more likely to achieve it.
The power of the trial close
Alan, I notice that you often ask “Do you have any questions?”
As you’ve probably discovered, the answer will often be “no.” If you want to instigate real dialog, try to get away from this yes/no proposition and ask in other ways:
-What’s your favorite part of what I just said?
-What don’t you understand about what I just said?
-Do you get it?
On another note, if you don’t really want conversation and are trying to move the sale ahead, convert your “Do you have any questions?” query into a trial close question. A trial close is an easy “yes” question, usually accompanied by a head nod, such as:
-Do you like this idea?
-Do you think we might be a fit?
-Based on what you’ve heard, are you interested in trying a bit of business together?
Proceed with the sales presentation as long as you keep getting a “yes” to your trial close questions. If the prospect ever says “no” to something, backtrack and figure out why. Then resume the selling process.
A “yes” is a qualifier. If the prospect stops saying yes, you need to stop selling and figure out why he lost interest. If the prospect says “no” too many times, you will of course lose the sale.
Use a trial close about three times per hour, with each trial close becoming more direct and specific. Here’s a sample sequence of trial close questions:
Does this sound good to you so far?
Do you still like what you’re hearing?
Does it seem like our two companies might be a good fit?
Would you like to give us a try?
Would you like to get started next week?
How about Wednesday?
Conference call with your client, Leslie
/Outside Starbucks on patio
/Very smooth, Alan–I like how you work!
/Smart to sit and focus rather than conduct the call while driving
Alan, you and I have talked about the four main personality styles–the Relater, Socializer, Director, Thinker (the Tony Alessandra model)–and how to approach each style in the way they like to be sold.
Good job in figuring out that your prospect, Leslie, is a Thinker.
Be aware of your non-verbal signals
Alan, I notice that you had a bit of “restless leg syndrome” during this meeting. Not sure if you were nervous or excited, but try to calm it so you don’t appear anxious or send the wrong signal.
You probably know that in poker, these types of physical manifestations are called “tells.” Extraneous signals can work for you or against you when selling. Make sure that all your verbal and non-verbal signals are working for you.
Smiling makes your more human
You have a great smile, Alan! Use it more often.
I know you’ve developed a very detailed selling process, but try not to be too automatic in your selling.
Efficiency is a great attribute to have as a seller, but don’t forget to be human.
Smiling is a great way to be human because it softens the edges and pulls people closer.
There are different types of smiles. Sometimes just smiling with your eyes is enough to do he trick. Combined with a head nod or a raising of the eyebrows, you become a very “safe” person to talk to.
Of course, you should not smile all the time–that would be unnatural. Think of smiles like a “face card” you can play when you need one. Smiles are best when they are sincere, but I know some salespeople who have great fake smiles and no one knows the difference.
Smiles come and go, just like dialog and other parts of the sales call.
There are different types of smiles:
You should even smile when you’re on the phone.
Practice in the mirror. I am not kidding about this technique. In the sales trade, this tool is called “a smile mirror.”
Your visit with prospect, Tyler
/You’ve known him for 4 years (your girls were in a camp together)
/Has a thinking man’s approach to doing deals
/Meeting ends at 1:30 PM
Selling through the side door
I like how you have a deep friendship with many of your reps, Alan. This is a good thing.
In the old days, traveling salesmen always knocked on the front door–because that’s where salesmen knocked. The homeowner might ask the stranger in for coffee and a bite to eat while they talked.
Today’s prospects don’t like to be sold. They don’t like salesmen, either. If you come through the “front door,” you’ll be treated like a salesperson.
Far better for you to knock on the side door because that’s where friends and family enter.
We talked about your company’s major competitors.
What can you learn about the other companies in your area so that you can better sell against them?
Can you get their names? If so, you can probably find them on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Ask associates, customers, and even prospects what they like and don’t like about these people.
Try to find out about their personalities, including their strengths and weaknesses. Then position yourself to sell against them by complimenting or supplementing their styles.
I like that you’re so computer savvy, Alan. Keep learning and trying new tools.
Great use of your iPad during sales meetings. Good job! I’m not quite so fond of you using your gear while driving. If you must work in your automobile, please do so when the car is in “Park,” brother.
See if you can find a GPS/phone holder that clamps to the dashboard or car vent. It’s very convenient and much safer than holding it in your hand.
Visit with clients, Barry and Leonard
Barry has a beard and Leonard is bald
Doing business with your company since for five years
Starting a circle of excellence
Featured in a prominent trade magazine in January
Barry’s wife is their office manager
Good job getting them to tell you about their ideal clients. It’s also good to know that they sell conceptually and hardly ever use paper. Their associate Andy has not cared to work with you so far, Alan. Barry and Leonard are eager to upgrade their office technology.
3:10 Shared selling strategies; talked favorites
3:25 Standing meeting every AM for 30 min
3:35 You say, “Anything else I can do for you?”
3:40 Love “Our companies are a lot more alike than not”
3:55 Another reference to a shared selling strategy
Rewarding your top clients, Alan
I like the synergy of our discussion about how to provide more value for top clients, including:
A Circle of Excellence ‘club” for your biggest customers
A team approach to selling
A primary contact person on your team
Inviting certain clients to serve on an Advisory Board
Yes, I would be interested in helping any way I can
This acronym comes in very handy for top sellers, Alan.
By establishing “top-of-mind-awareneness,” you ensure that your prospects and clients are thinking about you all the time.
As you know, Alan, TOMA is achieved by staying close to people through a combination of visits, phone calls, email, texts, trade show impressions, direct mail, and bulk email.
We visit with your client, Jack
Highlights and takeaways:
He loved all the hair bands back in the day
Married with 3 kids
You and Jack have been friends for 6 years
Jack works with his Dad, a retired NFL player
Analytical guy, a real thinker personality
His brother is Wilbur
Very direct, but also quite likable
I chatted with Jack’s Dad, Evan about the old days.
Our goal for this meeting was to uncover the reasons for Jack’s delay in placing new orders.
9:15 Start time
9:30 Down to business
9:35 Common friend mentioned; Jack moves chair to face you
10:00 Election referenced, but Jack not warm to the subject
10:15 Wants to see more product demos
10:40 Asked about a product that’s unavailable from you
Customer involvement is a “buy” signal. Stop being such a pleaser, ha and don’t be afraid to ask prospects to do things for you.
This balances the relationship investment between the seller and the buyer.
Always pre-call your meeting time slot by saying “How are we on time? I’ve got about 45 minutes. Is that okay with you?”
I love how you hung in there when Jack flinched on something you said. Great eye contact, Alan. Great job leaning in and staying on message and on schedule.
I offered my analogy about how most people/investors think of their scenario like a snapshot instead of a movie. Standard film projectors show movies at 24 frames per second. Try to see the end of the movie and not just a single frame.
Selling to groups
Man, you present like a pro, Alan!
I think you’re going to make a ton of money once we get you in front of groups. I will help you with this.
Visit with your prospect, Bob
Bob brings in the business
You’ve known them for 4 years
They have met with others at your company
Bob resembles a thin William F. Buckley
Nice man with 3 daughters:
-a beauty salon owner with 75 employees
He and his wife like Kindle
Bob’s cautious about doing business with you
This was a fun restaurant meeting. Before going into the restaurant, you told me that your goals for this meeting are to:
To reinforce the reasons to work with you
Identify several large orders in advance
Help him focus on the relationship
Mission accomplished. Great job, Alan!
I sent this email to Alan right after our visit
What a pleasure traveling with you this week!
I really enjoyed watching you work and was especially impressed by your selling process. You are a very organized and systematic person and those qualities will continue to serve you well in sales.
As we discussed, you’ll receive a more complete summary of our visit when I can get it written up. Meanwhile, I’m sending a list of the Top 3 things you should be working on.
Top 3 Things to Work on Right Now
My top tips for you, Alan.
1. Let’s get going on group presentations.
You’re a terrific presenter. I love your patter and how you present in such a free and easy manner.
At most meetings you present to a single prospect, but when you speak to groups you have a chance to bring multiple prospects into your sales funnel at the same time.
There are other benefits to speaking to groups:
Leverage the “power of the microphone”
Establish yourself as an industry expert
Gain valuable speaking experience you can use the rest of your life
2. Use personality analysis as a selling “shortcut.”
We discussed Dr. Tony Alessandra’s personality assessment which talks about using four main personality styles to sell more faster.
The four personalities are: Relater, Socializer, Thinker, and Director. The idea is that you would properly identify the personality of your prospect, factor in your personality and then deliver a sales presentation with the tone that would resonate most with the prospect.
The idea is that you would have four versions of your sales presentation and use the one that’s most appropriate for each scenario. Pretty cool!
We’re going to talk more about this powerful selling strategy, Matt.
3. Pay more attention to details.
You have a lot of the big stuff down, brother. Now it’s time to polish up all the little things you can do to close more deals. We started a list during our visit that included:
Letting the prospect talk even more
Staging a “reversible” presentation
Asking for the sale
Putting a time frame to the ask
Being very specific about “what should happen next”
Talk about what happens next after what comes next, ha
Being more “human” during the presentation, e.g. smiling more
I’m very impressed with you, Alan!
Please schedule a repeating monthly chat with me on your Outlook so we can catch up by phone at least once per month.
Also, let’s schedule our next visit as soon as possible.
Keep up the great work!