How to Improve Yourself Through Coaching with Danny Brown
The Sales Conversation
“When it comes to learning as a salesperson, one essential function is opening up to coaching and feedback. This episode looks at why professional feedback matters and what you can do to become open to self-improvement.”
In this episode, Bruce Scheer talks to Danny Brown about how seeking coaching and feedback can lead to more effective sales and stronger professional relationships. Danny is the Head of Business Development and Alliances at SherWeb, a cloud management service that focuses on helping businesses increase efficiency and improve user experience. Additionally, Danny is an experienced speaker and sales coach who focuses on developing companies and organizations through a culture of continuous improvement.
Becoming Better Salespeople Through the Power of Coaching
The ever-evolving world of sales demands an ever-evolving salesperson. Drawing on his experience in athletics, Danny Brown argues that all salespeople need to learn to appreciate coaching as a tool for maximizing their success. Coaching refers to the immediate professional feedback provided by peers, managers, and actual sales coaches. The goal of coaches is simple: they want you to improve.
Coaching and feedback are essential to sales success. Those who seek coaching advice are three times more likely to achieve their sales quotas. Overall, seeking out coaching can help reduce your close rate (i.e., the time it takes to close a sale) and maximize your success rate.
How should you prepare for receiving coaching?
According to Danny Brown, there are three key ingredients that every salesperson must have for successful coaching:
- The desire to improve
- The willingness to receive continuous feedback
- The ability to hone your craft through practice
The success of coaching always comes down to you. Just like athletes who are driven by the constant desire to improve themselves, salespeople must have that same drive. Ask yourself: Are you ready to accept feedback from others? If not, how can you change your mindset to be more open? If you don’t have the desire to improve, you are less likely to take the steps necessary to make adjustments to your sales strategies.
In addition to a desire to improve, salespeople must adjust their mindset to be open to continuous feedback and improvement. One successful sale or one successful adjustment is not a good reason to stop improving. Instead, you should treat successes as doors to additional improvements. After all, sales can vary from client to client, and the same strategy may not work the same way in each situation.
Lastly, practice is essential for honing your craft. Without it, you may fall back on faulty practices, regularly change sales strategies, or stagnate as a salesperson. Danny Brown suggests that salespeople need to turn back to the cadence of sales and to “practice perfect” to fine-tune their sales strategies. More importantly, “practice perfect” requires a mindset of readiness-to-learn to make practice effective and useful.
One way to make practice more meaningful is to self-analyze both yourself and a successful sales story. For yourself, you should ask:
- Who are you as a salesperson?
- What do you do as a professional?
- What does your company do?
- What are the implications of feedback for you as a seller?
- What things do you need to think about when approaching each sale?
- What pitfalls do you need to watch out for both in approaching a sales conversation and in soliciting feedback from a coach?
When analyzing successful sales stories, consider these questions:
- What makes the success story a “success”? What worked?
- How do you repeat that sales story over and over again so it becomes a kind of sales muscle memory?
Answering these questions for yourself will serve as a strong starting point before you approach a colleague or manager for coaching advice.
When should you seek feedback?
Most salespeople receive feedback through annual or quarterly performance reviews. While these are useful, Danny Brown suggests that feedback is more effective when a salesperson solicits it at the start of the quarter. There are two reasons for this:
- It helps set realistic goals and expectations for the remainder of the quarter.
- It minimizes the stress you may feel at the end of the quarter when things have not gone well.
Essentially, seeking feedback from peers or managers at the start of the quarter means you are more likely to receive continuous feedback that can lead to continuous adjustments. These “micro” adjustments can lead to more sales and significantly less stress, in part because you are more likely to bring your best game throughout the whole quarter.
What can you do to solicit useful coaching?
The first place to start when soliciting coaching and feedback is with your colleagues. Danny Brown suggests approaching colleagues who are successful in specific areas and seeking advice to help you improve in those same areas. Sales teams should be collaborative, and working together can build a culture of shared experience and teamwork that will increase sales and create a positive working environment.
While soliciting feedback from your peers is essential, you should also consider feedback from your sales manager. Managers are in a unique position to provide useful input because they see sales from a business perspective. Unfortunately, many managers are used to impersonal metrics for coaching their employees and may not have the personal experience for more proactive, personalized coaching. Salesforce notes that “only 50% of organizations invest in ongoing training and development of their sales managers.” As a result, getting the desired type of feedback may be difficult because it may not be intuitive to your manager.
Danny Brown, however, thinks that salespeople should help their sales managers learn to coach effectively. Doing so not only gives a sales manager a sense of importance and value in the “team” side of sales but also helps focus your manager on details that a metric-based view does not provide. To do so, consider asking some of these questions:
- Did you introduce the story correctly?
- Did you ask for the sale at the right point?
- What could you do to better connect with customers? What could you do to prepare customers for a sale?
- Did you create urgency for the customer?
- Did you listen well or speak well to the customer?
- Did you create a dialogue?
- Did you ask open-ended questions to get the customer excited?
Remember that coaching is not a ride-along. You need to provide colleagues or managers with the things you consider weaknesses about yourself. In doing so, you will give coaches specific targets to meet and increase the usefulness of the feedback you receive.
Remember: Never stop learning. Always grow. Always improve. These principles are essential to becoming a better salesperson and for creating “perfect” sales stories.
- Having the desire to improve yourself is essential to successful coaching. Without the desire to improve, salespeople likely won’t seek continuous feedback or make the kinds of adjustments necessary for fruitful sales conversations.
- Seek feedback at the start of a quarter to minimize stress and to increase your ability to make “micro” adjustments throughout the quarter. Doing so can increase sales success and help you lead with your best foot forward.
- Learn how to help sales managers provide proactive feedback by asking key focus questions. Since sales managers often see sales from a business perspective, they are not always prepared to provide the personal feedback that can help a salesperson make adjustments. Asking the right questions can help managers see their value in a professional relationship and can lead to more personalized coaching.
- Danny’s Links:
- Additional Resources:
- Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World by John Chambers and Diane Brady
- “Day in the Life: LeBron James” via Owaves
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