Don’t Take the Shot, Coach the Player

If you’re a sales leader you’ve been there. A salesperson approaches you and says:

Bob, we need to chat.  Remember that deal with ACME that I said was going to close this quarter?  Well now the customer is asking for an additional 10% off.  What should I do?

Your gut instinct might be to take the shot (save the day) and say something like this:

“What?  We need that revenue booked in Q2. Call the customer and add the extended services contract.  I’ll call the CEO and see what I can do as well.”

But does this exchange help:

  • The salesperson improve their skills?
  • You understand the reason why the salesperson is in this position?
  • Energize the salesperson?

No, no, and no.

When you have exchanges like this the message you send is, “You’re terrible at your job, so I’ll do it for you.”  Taking the shot leads to deflated sales people and a reliance on you to solve every problem.

Don’t Take the Shot, Coach the Player

Here’s a coaching technique you can use to develop the salesperson rather than solving problems for them.  Rather than taking the shot ask:

  1. Tell me how you got here. What was the first call like?  Walk me through the timeline of events leading up to this point.
  2. Why do you think they are asking for a discount now?
  3. What questions could you ask that will help you understand why they are asking for discount?
  4. What are some ways we could “get” something in return for offering a discount?
  5. What can we give that might create a high perceived value so we don’t have to discount?
  6. Good thinking Bob. OK, let’s role play this.  I’m the prospect.  I say “I want a discount” . . .

These questions along with role playing develop skills because they teach people to exercise their problem solving muscles.  When people come up with their own solutions they are more likely to act on it, rather than being told what to do.