Have you taken the first step in coaching?

Last week, I discussed why coaching is the most important component of a manager’s position. Effective coaching by the direct manager ensures that new behaviors are adopted by the originator. Otherwise, the sales person will revert back to their old habits at the first signs of stress. As we move into a more difficult marketplace, new selling skills will be mandatory for success. Potential clients and referral sources have access to an unprecedented amount of information and originators must adjust accordingly.

The core components of coaching can be divided into several parts:

&#8226 What is the coaching’s standard of excellence? What makes for a good sales behavior in the consultative sales process?
&#8226 How is the manager monitoring the coaching conversation?
&#8226 How is feedback being given to the employee?

Let’s start with the standard of excellence. In our analysis of the sales sequence, we define the process has having six parts: prospecting, first impressions, presenting and probing, influencing, overcoming objections and closing.

For each part of the sale sequence, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to execute the process. When coaching, managers must provide sales professionals with a set of expectations and well-defined guidelines for the correct selling technique. If the manager has not clearly stated what is expected for that selling skill, he or she will be unable to provide meaningful feedback to the employee.

Too often, managers skip setting standards of selling excellence with the belief that if the employee just watches them perform a sales call, that should be enough for the producer to duplicate. This is flawed thinking. (Case in point: Can you play good golf from watching videos? No). The reality is that shadowing a manager does not really help an employee learn a new behavior and improve selling technique.

Setting a clear standard means managers (and sales organizations) must define how much the employee must do something. It forces the manager to think through how the originator should prepare for the sales call, make an effective opening statement or handle an objection. Once originators know what is expected, there can be no surprises when it comes to the manager’s feedback. By having a standard, a manager’s feedback will be objective and perceived as fair since there were known guidelines. When there are no standards, the feedback will be seen as subjective and capricious.

For managers who say they hire only “experienced” sales people and believe that setting sales calls standards is baby-sitting, I would say that our industry average of 2 to 3 units of loan production per originator shows that this mind-set is not accurate. To be successful in the new world of origination, managers have to spend time defining the successful sales model for the continually shifting buying process. Once the standard has been determined, the next effort should be to break down the steps to achieve the standards.

Do you have sales standards for the new buying process in origination? If not, what are you doing to implement it?