Sales managers answer questions. They explain performance standards, job expectations, process guidelines, metrics, organizational structure, and so forth. They are the referees who clarify, interpret, and enforce the rules for the sales team and, as such, they are indispensable.
Sales coaches, on the other hand, ask questions. True, they partner with each salesperson with the objective of maximizing that person’s individual performance in accordance with, and as measured by, the sales manager’s rulebook. However, where a sales manager tells an underperforming sales rep what their performance gap is and what is required of them to eliminate it, the sales coach asks questions of the rep to stimulate self-analysis, create of an improvement plan, and motivate.
Every coaching situation is different and your reps may have very specific needs that imply equally specific lines of questioning. A seasoned sales coach learns over time what questions work best for a given industry, company, and team. That said, you can uncover many issues behind disappointing sales results with a basic set of questions.
Here are six questions to ask your sales rep to get you started:
- How are you acquiring your leads?
- What is the ratio between your number of cold calls versus new appointments?
- How do you determine to whom you send a contract or proposal?
- What questions did you ask to uncover their perception of value?
- Why do you think you’re not seeing the results you want?
- What do you think needs to change to improve your performance?
Good sales coaches will keep these and other questions in mind when discussing performance with their salespeople. When you discover another question that leads to actionable response, add that to your list. Asking these questions will not only help you better understand performance issues on your team, but also help your reps understand those issues for themselves and begin to acquire the ability—and the motivation—to address them on their own.