How Can I Recognize What My Team Needs From Me?

As salespeople, we are motivated to drive results for our clients, and put their needs above ours. To achieve this sometimes we need to move past our ego.

When we started our sales career we went through the learning quadrants, starting as unconsciously incompetent. We were unaware of our lack of skill; we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

At this early stage of our career, we most likely attended product training with some sales training, and read business cases to help position our product. This amongst other things helped advance us to the next stage of consciously incompetent. You start seeing the gaps in knowledge and skills and your awareness is becoming heightened. This is where the desire to get better sits, to close the gaps and desire to improve performance starts to kick in.

This stage provides a great opportunity for sales leaders to analyze behaviours, thoughts, and actions related to their sales team. Look at how they are seeking to improve, what channels are they turning to, and how do they learn, and communicate? ask for help? You can learn a lot more about your team here. Lean into your curiosity at this stage, it will help you piece the parts together in later stages.Conscious Competence starts showing signs of improvement. The skills you are learning are showing but this comes with intention and conscious effort.

Finally, when you reach unconscious competence, you are on autopilot, operating from your subconscious. If someone asked how you did something or why you did it a certain way, you most likely were unaware you even did it. This is where some reps can get lazy, sloppy or lack intention. As buyers become more aware and show up 80% of the way along the buying process, this type of behaviour is easily replaced by someone more mindful, intentional, and aware of their buyers' needs.

How can we help our sales team increase their self-awareness? Start looking for patterns, and triggers within themselves to be more proactive, think through things from the customer lens and be others-focused?

Do this through coaching. Training is often mistaken for coaching.

It is not the same thing. Coaching is individual, it can be used to supplement the training. Find unique blind spots, goals, and areas of opportunities that heighten your awareness toward action.As Sales Leaders, we can work with our team, and help them see why they do or don’t do certain things, and what is holding them back. Hold space for them to tap into their emotions. Allow them to connect with themselves, get curious as to why this is happening, and get to the source. Typically, the activities, outcomes, and lack of empathy are all symptoms of a bigger problem, our job is to help them see it so they can start the journey toward change.

The most common objection I hear from sales leaders is, “I don’t have time”. What is underneath this typically is, “I don’t know how to coach”. As Sales professionals, when backed into a corner we rely on what we know best and, in this case, it is selling. To fill in the gap, we tell our reps what to do.

  • “Send this letter to the CFO”
  • “Book a second appointment with legal”
  • “Follow up with procurement”

These directives disempower our team, we are not inviting them to think of the next steps on their own, look at the bigger strategic picture and think about if we do this, then what happens. This heightened awareness extends well beyond this deal, we are teaching them business acumen, self-belief and confidence to execute.

When we are constantly giving them the answers, the freedom and motivation to act independently become stunted. They will always be looking behind them for you to give them the answer.

How can we cut the cord? trust you hired the right self-starters. Guide them, model the behaviour, and tee up questions so the A-Ha’s come from them. Teach them to seek within themselves to find the answers, sometimes you will need to provide them which is normal. The sense of accomplishment when they do this is palatable. They continue to build this muscle because they feel good about themselves. The release of dopamine increases their confidence, they did it. This feeling is addictive, they will continue leaning in and trying new things, and this only happens when we can let go.

I understand it is easier and quicker to give them the answer, however, that is a short-term fix. Practice restraint, and be patient knowing that allowing them to seek within first will provide much more benefit than the quick fix we can provide.

For those of you wondering OK, I might be open to starting to coach my team, but I have no idea where to start, I will recommend 3 things to help you get started:

1) Sell the idea to your team. Why are you coaching them? Frame it around your objective to support and develop them, and help them achieve their goals. The last thing you want them to think is they are under PIP, Performance Improvement Plan or this is micromanaging. Authentically share your desire to help them achieve their goals. Share some of your “why”.

2) To increase buy-in, review the coaching process, and help them see how you will work together. Walk them through the process, disarm them and get them to lean in and see the good in it. This will help them improve their performance. Share the frequency, dates, times, and calendar links. Who is responsible for what? missed meeting policy? Set clear expectations here. You can continually refine this based on what is working and what isn’t. Invite them to make suggestions for improvement.

3) Start with setting 1-2 goals they would like to work towards in the coaching sessions. Understand why these goals, why now, and what have they done in the past to achieve them. Understand what achieving these goals will do for them professionally and personally. Get to know your team. What are they saving up for? Studying for? Planning a family etc. Connect with them on an individual level.

At the end of the coaching session, ensure your sales team:

· Summarize lessons learned

· Suggests next steps

· What will they take into next week and start working on

· Share how they need to be held accountable.

· Highlight any A-ha’s, these are important and celebrate the mini wins and awakenings along the way.

How will you improve your coaching culture, and for those who don’t have one what will you do to create one?

If you require support with this initiative or have any coaching-related questions please reach out to us directly, happy to have a conversation.

About Karen Kelly

For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.

Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools  that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.

Ready to get started?

We encourage you to take the first step towards change.
There are so many areas of business out of our control, yet we continue to invest in them and hope for a different outcome. What about your people? You have control over them and their development pathway. The ability to build a positive learning culture, improve their level of confidence and increase bottom line revenue.
Invest in them. Hone their sales skills to  attract your most ideal clients, gain the required commitments through  discovery, engage authentically  and create an enjoyable repeatable experience for your clients.
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