Coaching Sales Reps to Make the Grade

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Apr 15, 2021 by Sean Luce

How many sales managers ride in the field with their sales reps on coaching calls? Coaching calls should be the most basic and on-going part of training sales reps. For various reasons, training in the field has gone by the wayside. Since lack of instruction in the field is a primary cause of poorly trained sales reps, I would like to share some tips on how to coach and grade reps in the field.

Training sales reps is not about putting them in a room with the most recent DVD of Selling like a Tiger. Training is much more than a DVD. Unfortunately, many reps primary method of instruction is the DVD. On a recent market trip, I traveled with reps to grade them on specific types of calls. In this case, I wanted closing calls.  The reps had no advance knowledge that they would be evaluated on these calls. As football coaches often tell their players, Put it on tape.

I used the grading method which is illustrated below to score the calls on tape. Unlike football practice, sales calls are real life.  Shown below are the instructions and grade card for coaching in the field.  The objective is to give the rep an overall grade on the call from 1-10. Ten is a perfect score. I have never given a score of 10 in a call. The highest grade had been an 8 until this call. An 8 is always a good score in my mind because there is always room for improvement in a call.

Having a grading sheet is also a form of recognition if used correctly. The sheet also helps the sales manager document the progress of each rep plus shows the areas of improvement in the sales call. The grading sheet is not an element of everyday training. Many managers are familiar with curbside coaching where the sales manager goes over the call once back in the car or at the end of the day. The manager instructs the rep on areas for improvement. The Grading sheet below goes well beyond curbside coaching and dissects the call.

On this particular call with a sales rep, we made a closing call. The client ran sporadic advertising with this group of stations. The rep was presenting a proposal with a serious upsell and long term agreement. The rep felt that the chances of closing the call were 50%. Below is the actual grading sheet:

1. Did rep thoroughly cover the 7 steps on a closing presentation? Yes.
LPG has 7 steps that reps have to complete on closing calls.

2. Did the rep cover the eight components of a closing presentation? Yes
In each closing proposal, there are 8 basic components. The rep had all 8 in the closing proposal.

3. What could the rep have done differently to maximize the presentation?
There were a couple areas where the rep could have hit the features of the property a little harder. The rep could have also stressed that 20% of people move every year and this would have applied to this call.

4. Did rep adequately handle all objections?  Yes

5. Did rep invest 35% of her time in problem solving and only 10% in features and benefits? No. 25% of the closing proposal was problem focused and 20% was property focused. Note: We have specific percentages on each of these.

6. Did the schedule include enough frequency to meet expectations? Yes

7. Did the creative Rise above the Clutter, and will it work? Yes Rep had 3 spec options, and all would work in my opinion.

Now grade how the rep controlled the call through: (Grade A-F)
Eye Contact A 

Gestures A 

Prospect Involvement  C (could get them more involved)

Open Ended Questions B+ 

Closed Ended Questions B+ 

Enthusiasm A 

Stories A+  (could use more personal testimonials and be more specific)

Asking for the Business B 

Confidence A+ 

- Name one thing that the rep did well in the call?  Smooth-confidence-presentation skills were superb! Knew the proposal inside and out and it flowed! The rep also had the Customer Marketing Profile (CMP) to refer back to the 1st call. Very few reps do this on CPs.

- What one thing would you recommend to the rep on how to improve the call? Work on Cover Letter and explain in greater detail. Use as review of the

CMP call. Always yellow highlight leave behinds. If using Power Point, always yellow highlight main topics to drive home.

Overall grading of call on a scale of 1-10 would be: 9

Coaching sales reps is more than riding around with them on calls. Training a rep is also more than the manager taking over on a call and closing it for them. Improving the performance of a rep is about training and coaching with occasional in-field grading.... Coach, coach and keep coaching, and put it on tape as they would say!

Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group in Houston, Texas and can be reached at sean@luceperformancegroup.com

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