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Be Your Own Coach

January 18, 2005
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BE YOUR OWN COACH: A JANUARY RESOLUTION

SELF-COACHING TAKES TIME, BUT NOT A LOT. WHAT IT TAKES IS DISCIPLINE.

By Linda Richardson

There are many things you can do to improve your sales skills such as training, sales books, tapes, and team calling. But since you are often out there alone, one of the most important things you can do is reflect back and self-coach.

LIKE THE ARTIST WHO IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE TO SIT FOR A SELF-PORTRAIT, YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN BEST COACH BY DEBRIEFING ONE CALL A DAY.

Self-coaching takes time, but not a lot. What it takes is discipline. Just as you wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without looking in the mirror, get into the habit of looking into your skill mirror after calls.

What to Assess:

Use a set of criteria to streamline the self-coaching process. Focus on the full call or one piece, based on your focus.

SELF-COACHING CHECKLIST (And it is fine to work on one thing at a time!)

PREPARATION

· Was I prepared with client knowledge? Industry knowledge? Product knowledge?

· Did I set a specific objective/action step and time frame for the call before going in?

· Did I know the players who would be there? (Did I check before the call who would be there?)

· Were my materials appropriate? Professional?

· Did I prepare for rapport? Plan my questions? Get ready for introductions?

· Was I with the appropriate decision maker(s) and/or influencer(s)?

RELATING

· Did I build rapport?

· Did I connect?

INTERACTIVE CLIENT DIALOGUE

· Did I have a 50/50 dialogue?

· What percentage of the time did I talk? Listen?

CLIENT NEEDS

· Did I question to really understand client needs before product?

· Did I maintain at least a 50/50 talk/listen dialogue? Really?

· Did I drill-down?

SOLUTION

· Did I tailor what I presented to relate to and satisfy the client’s needs?

RESOLVING OBJECTIONS

· Did I uncover objections?

· Did I show empathy and question to learn more before responding? Did I check if I satisfied the objections?

ACTION STEPS

· Did I end on a clear next step?

· Did I accomplish my objective?

SALES SKILLS

· Presence

o Did I project confidence?

o Was my demeanor impressive?

· Relating

o Did I prepare for rapport?

o Did I use acknowledgment or empathy?

· Questioning

o How effective were my questions? Did I drill down to go deeper?

o Did I acknowledge and preface my questions with client benefits?

o Did I ask need, decision-making, strategy, competitive, and/or relationship questions?

· Listening

o Did I listen for more than product needs?

o What was the quality of my attention? Eye contact? Note taking?

· Positioning

o Did I discuss my products/services/ideas from my client’s point of view? Did I use my client’s language?

· Checking

o Did I keep the contact interactive? Did I ask for feedback throughout the call?

FOLLOW UP

· What is my follow-up? When?

OTHER (something specific you want to work on like asking for referrals, references uptiering, cross-selling …)

How to Assess:

Ask yourself the following as you go through the checklist:

First, assess your strengths. (And don’t short shrift this!) Ask yourself:

· What did I do well?

Don’t skip this. You can learn as much — or more — from assessing your strengths.

Next, assess your areas for improvement. (And be frank!) Ask yourself:

· What could I have improved?

Look for what you could do differently next time.

Then get an outside view. (We all have blind spots.) Ask yourself:

· Where can I go to learn more?

We all need an outside view. Go to a manager or a colleague who you

feel can add value. Say, “This is what happened … This is how I handled it …

What do you think?” Keep your own comments and assessment brief. You are

there to listen. Be open to feedback and what you can learn and apply.

Create action steps:

· Set a game plan of what you will do to improve.

Work on that one thing in the next call or project, continue to self-coach, and when you master that, go on to conquer your next area. The power of incremental growth is extraordinary — so take it one step at a time.

HOMEWORK

Download Be Your Own Coach
Throughout the year, be resolved to self-critique and identify the things you want to strengthen one by one.

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