Earning the ‘Trusted Advisor’ Role Requires Sales Team Coaching

Bob Sanders, president and COO of Axiom Sales Force Development, kicked the morning off with a breakout talk on the importance of coaching in our sales organizations.

Sanders says that, in today’s environment, customers can get more information about what we might be able to do for them then they ever have before.

“Unfortunately for us, our sales people are continuing to pitch to customers who actually already have access to product information..  They’re pitching to a customer that needs help figuring it out.”

According to Sanders, coaching is the single most important factor in transitioning sales staff from vendor/pitchman to trusted advisor.

“When we become a trusted advisor to the customers, not only do we learn a whole lot more about their business but we end up selling a whole lot more.  Companies that are perceived as trusted advisors outsell companies that are perceived as vendors.”

Sanders recommends a process called GUIDE for coaches to achieve fundamental behaviors:

  • Goals – All coaches set goals; they ask ”What is it that you want to accomplish?” and help create a plan to achieve it.
  • Uncovering Gaps – Coaches evaluate performance gaps and behavioral gaps.
  • Identifying root cause – Sanders says the root cause is always capacity, commitment, skill or knowledge.
  • Defining corrective action – Sanders said to ask the sales person what developmental assignments they’ve been given, and you’ll often find that managers haven’t given any – that they’re trying to change the result without changing the meaning by which it’s been produced.
  • Evaluating performance – The best coaches are constantly looking to see if what they are doing is adding value to the salesperson.

“You will find that there is precious little coaching going on,” Sanders said.

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