Some people take to management like a duck to water. Others spend time learning the best way to manage a team. The reason management can be difficult is because, at one point or another, you’re going to have to tell someone they aren’t doing something well. In reality, that never feels good. On the showroom floor, the quality of your sales coaching will determine your team’s growth. Know how to do it naturally, and you don’t need to read this any further. Looking to get better at coaching your team? There is a simple yet old-school tactic to help you start.
Sales Coaching Tips Managers Need To Know
First, know that some managers don’t truly know how to “coach” employees when they’re doing something wrong. Instead, they rely on yelling, bullying, belittling, or threatening one’s job. This usually gets them nowhere. They believe domination and intimidation are the answer. This is rarely a workable tactic in sales coaching.
Second, know that some managers like being everyone’s friend. Instead of telling someone when they’re doing wrong or messed up, they avoid the confrontation and simply ignore the problem, never speaking up to their employee. Never correcting their behavior or actions, hoping it gets better on its own. This doesn’t work either.
Why Effective Sales Coaching is So Hard
It is not a manager’s job to be a good guy/girl or a bad guy/girl. Their job is to help their team grow and get the most out of them. Positive reinforcement is imperative, as is constructive criticism and regular feedback to course-correct actions. One of the simplest tactics in sales coaching is the compliment sandwich. (This tactic got a bad rap for a while, but many of today’s younger workforce are more sensitive than the gruff salespeople of yesteryear, so it is making a resurgence.)
What is a compliment sandwich?
It is nothing more than a 3 part conversational structure that allows you to say something good the employee is doing in the set-up, bringing to their attention where they’re failing or incorrect, along with a solution or recommended fix in the body of the discussion, and ending with your faith in them as an employee to see it through. So the structure is:
Concern with Recommendation.
Here is a compliment sandwich in its most basic, rudimentary form – one that can be applied to almost any situation if rephrased with specifics.
“Hey – look at how you performed here. That is great. You did everything you should have, and action/behavior led to the perfect result.” – Compliment.
“Here are the specific instances that are concerning – where you didn’t give quality effort or behave in a manner in line with our organizational goals – and the lack of results shows this. This isn’t acceptable. Had you done this instead, you likely would have ended up with a more promising outcome.” – Concern with Resolution. (Sometimes, what’s in the middle is messy but needs to be digested.)
“With that said, this is the training we will give you and the behavior/activity we are asking you to adopt in order to succeed beyond those past errors. We have a lot of faith in you as a person/employee, and you know you’re strong enough to achieve this.” – Compliment.
Lastly, seek acknowledgment that they understand what is being asked of them and their desire to move forward with your recommendation, and hopefully, there will be no ill will left behind. Again, the compliment sandwich is a very basic way to address issues with staff who may not be well-versed in being corrected, reprimanded, punished, or even told they weren’t perfect. And yet, sales coaching is rarely given in the form of sunshine and rainbows only.
I’ve written about the difference between consulting, training, sales coaching, and accountability before. Those are the strategies. The compliment sandwich is just a tactic. It’s just one tool (of the many) you should have in your toolbox when coaching your sales team. For some in the industry, receiving a compliment sandwich may be the only way they can swallow what you’re feeding them.