This deal could make or break their Quarter – I was accompanying Sam and his Account Executive (AE) to meet the customer as part of an effort for me to observe Coaching on the Field and to coach Sam on his ability to coach his team better.
As is typical of busy sales managers, Sam and his AE get down to discussing call objectives in the car ride to the customer. They tick off 3 points they want to cover: 1) force the customer to take a decision this week 2) throw in some discounting to sweeten the deal and 3)use the language of “license compliance” to force the customers’ hand should they choose not to close.
Observing this interaction, I was struck by how little had changed on the Field in the last two decades. The world may have moved on to Challenger Selling, but the behaviors on the Field were far from the behaviors that customer expect from Sales people nowadays. This last minute frenetic push to close, damages more relationships, and undoes all quality work put in prior.
And for me, this was a wonderful coaching moment: “What value have we created with this customer, that will earn you the right to drive some momentum in this conversation?” – both of them intellectually understood the impact of my question, and I could sense the emotional struggle in them. How do we balance the pressures of the “now” (Quota) with the unexplored possibilities of creating a differentiated customer experience?
I continued: “What should you be doing in this meeting today, so as to get the customer to say “That’s the best one hour I have spent in the last 3 months!!”? Both of them smiled nervously – who cares about what the customer thinks; all I need is this deal to close”
On any given day, there are millions of such interactions that your sales people are conducting with their managers, and these interactions are the best time to engage in Just-in-time Field Coaching. If every powerful customer meeting is “3 parts preparation, and 1 part execution”, how can your Sales Manager coach to the customer experience? In my mind, this is the missing piece in transforming behavior on the Field – the ability to coach to the customer interaction.
I see a lot of organizations invest in Coaching – However, if this coaching does not land at the critical interfaces that creates value, coaching remains a theory and a process that managers pay lip service to. There are some progressive organizations that are now realizing the power of coaching on the Field – coaching to the preparation, coaching to the conversation, coaching to the outcomes, coaching to the behaviors, coaching to the up sell/cross sell, coaching to the orchestration between team members, coaching to creating customer consensus – the list goes on.
The moot question is – are you one of those organizations? Are you paying lip service to Coaching by teaching the process, or are you landing Coaching on the Field at the interface that matters most – your customer!!