Coaching your sales staff isn’t always easy, even if sales comes naturally to you. Even though you’ve learned your organization’s sales system and how to make it work for you, and with your natural aptitude you’ve done very well. But helping others achieve similar success is a different process.
As a sales leader, coaching your team can help individual members adjust their activities and work within the sales system to win business. They may have customer-centric and consultative sales skills, but you can help them take selling to the next level by developing their own healthy sales pipeline. In this article, we’ll cover how to identify and coach through common mistakes to get your team on the right track to solid sales pipelines.
Why Sales Is Becoming Harder
If it seems like it’s becoming more difficult to grow your organization’s business, you’re right. Competition in the financial industry has grown tremendously with the increase in digital-only or e-banks. Between 2019 and 2021, consumer use of an e-bank as their primary financial institution rose by 48%. In 2023, about one in four Americans uses an online bank. Neobanks such as Chime, and digital wallets like Venmo and Amazon Pay, are also competing for the same customers as traditional banks.
There are additional reasons for the rising difficulty in banking growth, too. Increased regulation is making sales more complex and the job of sales teams harder. And with the recent, highly publicized collapse of a few banks in the U.S., negative public perception is another hurdle for sales teams.
All of these headwinds in banking growth make it important to coach your sales team to develop the skills and capabilities to succeed.
3 Common Pipeline Mistakes You Can Diagnose
Effective coaches excel at understanding the obstacles each individual team member faces. If you can diagnose the issue correctly, you have a good foundation for helping your team member move forward. Help your team members avoid or correct these common mistakes so they can consistently close the right volume of business.
#1. Not understanding that a healthy pipeline requires nurturing every day
As a sales manager, you know that constant prospecting is critical – it almost becomes second nature. Your team may not know this, especially your rookies. They may have a very small pipeline, or no pipeline at all. Help them develop the right mindset that gets them actively engaged in finding opportunities and prospects. Building a healthy sales pipeline is an everyday habit.
If your organization has a formula or system for sales prospecting, coach them on how to use it and ways they can integrate that formula into their work. Make sure they have access to resources that will help them expand their sales knowledge.
#2. Not strong in assessing qualified prospects
Accurate evaluation of prospects comes with experience, and for bankers new to sales or relationship management, that experience isn’t there yet. They may mistake a prospect’s initial interest or simply a polite manner as an indicator that the prospect would be an excellent customer.
As a result, their pipeline may seem full, but it’s not full of qualified prospects. Having a full pipeline may lead them to be complacent, thinking that high volume is sure to result in come closed deals. To coach them through this mistake, talk about the kinds of questions they need to ask to delve deeper, so they can understand if the lead is truly qualified.
#3. Not able to move prospects forward in the buying process
It’s easy to lose out on business when you don’t understand the rational and emotional components of the buyer’s decision-making process. Your sales team may not be aware of what to say to close the deal. Educate them with some of your own stories and examples. You can also offer prescriptive selling training to help them build the skills to handle objections, build urgency, and sell to the next step.
5 Tips for Successful Sales Coaching
Sales leaders create strong sales teams by helping each individual capitalize on their strengths and build up skills in areas where they lack in order to improve their overall performance. Your job is to empower them to excel by helping identify those strengths and gaps in a positive way.
Use these tips to increase your own coaching strengths:
- Coach frequently – Coaching doesn’t have to be limited to scheduled meetings. In fact, talking about positive outcomes and learning opportunities as part of your daily interactions can be highly effective. Make coaching a daily habit.
- Work from evidence – Diagnose issues and reinforce positive behaviors based on each individual’s actual work as often as possible. Being able to see and hear for yourself will give you deeper and more accurate insights. You can do this by sitting in (silently) on calls or reviewing recorded calls.
- Ask questions – Use questions to engage your team. Having a discussion about what went well and not as well is often more effective than simply making statements. Discussion can also give you greater insight into identifying areas for your team to improve.
- Set coaching goals – Work with individuals to set a goal focused on one area of improvement at a time. They are more likely to make progress if they concentrate on a single skill or capability, and also if they participate in setting the goal. You want them to own it!
- Offer training – The top motivation for employees to learn is to make progress toward their career goals. Make the most of this for your team and your organization by offering personal development training that will help them grow and succeed.
Here’s one more tip: Recognize progress! Coaching is more effective when people feel their hard work is acknowledged and appreciated.
As a Sales Leader, if you are frustrated by deals that are taking too long or never seem to close, you need proper pipeline management strategies. If you’d like to level up your pipeline coaching skills, join us for an upcoming webinar Manage Your Sales Pipeline so it is Not a Pipe Dream, or get it OnDemand.