Opportunity Coaching: Quick Wins or Strategic Planning?

Without a doubt, the salespersons facing the biggest challenges in the new way of selling are the Sales Managers because they started their sales transformation journey simultaneously with their sales teams. This means they had to help and coach their sales teams with the new way of selling while everything was new to them.

Meet Sales Managers Jim and Jill at a Coaching session with one of their sales executives. They are both facing the same performance pressures in achieving sales targets. Which one can you relate to the most, either as the Coach or as the Coachee?

Sales Manager Jim and Sales Executive MikeSales Manager Jill and Sales Executive Mike
Jim: Ok, Mike, let’s go. My apologies that this session needs to be a bit shorter than usual, but I had to be at another unplanned meeting fixing an issue with one of our biggest customers. Anyway, let’s have a look at your current pipeline. Oh, I see there are three big ones in the proposal stage. When do you think you can close these?Jill: Hi Mike. Thank you for being on time. I had some challenges getting here, but I have asked our customer service Director to look after an issue with one of our biggest customers. After all, they are the experts, and now I am focused on this session with you. Which opportunities would you like to discuss today?
Mike: Well, I am not sure if I can push all the of them before the end of the month. Two of them asked for a better price, but I have stayed firm until now.Mike: Well, there are three opportunities I would like to discuss. They are all nearly in the proposal stage, but I am not 100% sure.
Jim: well done. Are you talking to the decision-makers?Jill: What are you not sure about? Mike: I met with my main contacts, and they are asking me to put a proposal on the table.
Mike: For Opportunity A, I am sure because my contact confirmed she could make the decision. Regarding the other two, I am not sure. But, heh, how can you be sure nowadays? Buyers buy differently, and there are always surprises when it comes to decision-making.Jill: Let’s talk about the opportunity you are the most comfortable with. I see you have had one video call and one meeting so far. Where is your primary contact on the Buying Clock?
Mike: She is in Change to What? Phase.
Jim: ok, let me know when you need help, we may be able to sharpen our pencil on price a little bit. We certainly need the extra revenue this month.Jill: great, and what made her move out of Why Change?
Mike: She was keen to hear more after I shared my idea of how I could help her with faster delivery times.
Jill: What is this company’s growth strategy? Have you discussed that?
Mike: Yes, they are expanding to more Eastern European countries after success in Western Europe.
Jill: What are your ideas on how you can help them do that most efficiently and effectively?
Mike: You are right; I should have steered the conversation in that direction. I should share the ideas to penetrate their new markets with Just In Time delivery instead of investing in warehouse contracts. That is less risky, and this will give them time to see if the new markets will develop well or not.
Jill: perfect. How will you share that insight?
Mike: Ah, I remember what you said at the last team meeting “sharing an insight is so much more effective through a story”. When I meet with her next, I can share the story of how I have helped another customer in a similar situation not that long ago.
Jill: Exactly; when you call her for a meeting, what else can you ask her to help her drive your ideas forward?
Mike: I get it. I need to include another stakeholder who has an interest in either making more money or saving costs.
Jill: Exactly, and once you know the potential Hidden Competitors, you can start working on how to overcome these. I would also recommend starting your next meeting with the business reasons why you think their current thinking may not deliver the results they are looking for. Use your Business Acumen. Ok, Mike, I think you will handle this very well. I leave this to you. What’s the next opportunity you want to discuss?

The first example (Jim and Mike) example is a little bit exaggerated, but I hope you get the point. Opportunity coaching needs to change. As Sales Coaches, you will get better results by coaching your sales executives thinking about how to use the new selling skills for their opportunities.

  • Where are the stakeholders in the Buying Clock?
  • How do you get them to move forward?
  • How can you help the customer to achieve their desired business results?
  • What Insights and ideas will you share? And how will you share these?
  • How do you enable your stakeholders to drive buying room consensus on change?

Sales Managers are under pressure to deliver results. But ask yourself which coaching approach will drive a committed change from the buyer’s perspective? In the first example (Jim and Mike), the customer is most likely testing the market to see if they can get a better price (for the same or similar service). So, Mike may close the deal, but does that gain the customer’s commitment to change? Coaching with the aim of quick wins results in quick failure.

In the second example, through Jill’s coaching, Mike realizes that

a focus on helping customers see a different perspective on their challenges and sharing ideas on how you can help them achieving their desired results turn into a greater commitment to change.

Jill’s objective is to coach Mike to build solid strategic plans to move opportunities forward.

How well are you applying the new way of opportunity coaching? Are you getting caught in coaching for quick wins, or do you make time to help your sales teams build solid strategic plans to win opportunities?

Feel free to share with your teams and colleagues.

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