This series will help you identify why you need a coaching culture and show you how to start, build, and maintain a culture that drives ROI.
A coaching culture doesn’t happen overnight. Once you have the green light to implement your new coaching process, do not call an all-hands meeting and announce there will be a cultural shift. That is a one-way ticket to a mutiny. Instead, spend time planning out how to announce it to all of your teams in a more personal way.
How to Broach the Subject of a Cultural Shift with the Front Line
We’ve all seen it before–management announces sweeping changes in the name of ‘sales force transformation’ only for it to fall flat and the changes not to stick. Members of the peanut gallery often moan and groan about how disconnected management is from the front line. That’s why introducing a shift to a coaching culture doesn’t need the same fanfare as your annual sales kickoff meeting.
There are a few ways to approach the announcement. You could hold an all-hands meeting or town hall to discuss why and how you’ll build a coaching culture as a team. You may also opt to lean on your managers to announce it to their respective teams. Since your managers have already established a foundation of trust with their reps, the message will resonate better.
To help reinforce that your coaching culture is about making your reps better, share the ground rules with them across multiple channels. Review the ground rules during the announcement meeting, send them via e-mail, Slack it, include them in calendar invites, send carrier pigeons – WHATEVER WORKS. Remember that CRO stands for Chief Reminder Officer.
WIIFM (What’s in it for Me?)
That’s what all of your reps will ask. A coaching culture cannot take root if your reps are resistant to it. Show your reps that coaching will help them succeed at their current roles and as they continue on in their careers. Find out what drives each rep and use that information to aid what you coach them on, and how you approach their 1:1 sessions.
Every team has influential reps who can make or break changes to workflow, processes, and overall culture. Use these reps to help build excitement around your new coaching process. If it makes sense to, roll out the program to them first and let them see how coaching improves their skills. For teams that will hold small and large group coaching sessions, ask these reps to volunteer their calls for the first few meetings. Once the team has seen that these sessions won’t turn into tearing their calls to shreds, they’ll be more open to the process.
In-role progression and long term goals provide additional coaching opportunities. Make sure managers know where their reps want to go in their current role, at the company, and in their career. Managers should understand how to coach reps to achieve their goals whether it’s to make more money, get promoted, or move into another role such as client success. Be transparent with reps and provide clear steps for in-role progressions and promotions.
Know What to Do With the Bad Apples
Some reps will never take to coaching, no matter how hard you try. And that’s okay. It’s what you do with these reps that reinforces or hurts your coaching culture.
During discussions about your coaching plan, establish guidelines for managing coaching-resistant reps. Determine what a resistant rep looks like whether it’s failure to improve over x amount of sessions, not sharing calls with managers, or ignoring feedback altogether. Identify how you’ll discern resistant reps from those who may do better with a different coach. Other items to consider include:
- Do you physically isolate vocally resistant reps from the rest of the team?
- When you opt to manage resistant reps out?
While it can be overwhelming to think about reps resisting coaching, the good news is that most reps will be excited about it. Coaching provides them an opportunity to refine their skills and work on professional development at a level they won’t find in most other industries.
As coaching cements into your sales culture, your teams will form stronger bonds. Reps will become inclined to sharing what’s working for them with their peers while offering feedback through peer-to-peer coaching. This adds another layer of coaching that will ultimately lead reps to self-identify what they can do better on calls, allowing managers to spend more time focusing on how reps can improve a particular skill.
In Part 4, you’ll learn how to maintain a coaching culture for the long haul. Coaching is not a set it and forget it process. It requires upkeep and reiteration as your sales teams and company evolve.