05 Sep 2 top coaching tips from an expert SaaS sales leader
We asked Patrick Traynor, one of London’s most experienced sales leaders, to share his 2 most effective coaching tips. Here’s what Pat had to say.
In June we staged our first Sales Confidence conference at HereEast, in London’s Olympic Park. We called it SaaSGrowth2018. We had over 200 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 30 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our SaaSGrowth2018 articles.
‘How to hire, onboard, coach and develop successful sales teams’ was the title of one of the afternoon sessions. We were excited to welcome 6 hiring experts to the SaaSGrowth stage to talk about how they mould teams for success.
One of our speakers was Pat Traynor. Pat is a sales leader with more than 13 years’ experience in management and 25 years in sales. He’s currently VP of Talent Solutions at The Dots, but I know him best from working with him at LinkedIn where he was Enterprise Sales Manager.
Pat is passionate about developing skills within the teams he runs. He shared with us 2 tips you can use today when coaching your team.
1 — The Foresight Question
Pipeline reviews. We’ve all been there. What do they achieve? Where are the moments for learning rather than justification? Patrick has an idea.
‘The big problem with pipeline reviews is that you’re trying to give advice to a rep who probably knows a lot more about the deal than you do. They’ve probably already tried half the ideas you’re going to come up with.’
‘To avoid this battle, I use something called ‘The Foresight Question’. I ask the rep to imagine it’s 3 months in the future, and the deal has died.’
You can try this at home if you like! Imagine a deal you’re working on at the moment.
‘What went wrong with the deal? What could you have done differently?’
‘The answers I’ve heard are revealing, and equally empowering. Reps always know immediately what is going to mess up their deal. The challenge is, despite knowing this information, they’ve done nothing about it. They’ve relied on hope. As we know, hope isn’t a strategy.’
‘Now you know what the problem is with the deal, you can do something about it. Or rather, you can coach your rep on what they can do about it.’
What an awesome idea. It helps reps put themselves in their customer’s shoes, and ultimately be more thoughtful about how they make sales.
Try it in your team next time you’re looking at pipelines. Let us at Sales Confidence know how it goes.
2 — Leadership development
Pat’s next coaching tip is to give team members practical experience of leadership.
‘If you don’t create opportunities for your reps to develop their leadership skills, many of your best reps are going to leave. I’ve got a simple solution which gives my team a practical taste of leadership, encourages the best performers to stick around and inspires the whole team.’
‘I created a rotating team leader programme. It means that somebody from my team prepares and runs the sales meeting. Every week, they gather some sales metrics, create a presentation, invite somebody from another part of the business, and facilitate a discussion about an aspect of our sales proposition.’
‘It creates a platform for my team leader to be seen to be leading. It creates a safe space for them to experiment and a place where I can support them closely. For all of this extra work (which is supposed to be my job!), the team leader gets no official recognition of these responsibilities. However, the team recognises that it’s an opportunity to demonstrate their potential. It helps them decide whether their career path lies in leadership.’
‘It turns out that I don’t have to coach them on running meetings. I end up coaching them on things around it, like handling different personality types, or HR policies, or how our forecasting models work.’
Patrick said how this experiment made him see that people who he thought were not leadership material actually showed a real aptitude for it. People will often surprise you. Sometimes you just have to give them the opportunity.
Over to you
What do you think? What are your tips to get the most from your coaching? Have you, or your sales leader got some unconventional coaching methods like Pat? Let us know in the comments.