Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada
Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary
Attending sales calls with your salespeople is an excellent way to support their growth and development.
For your reps to grow sometimes you need to let them drown on a sales call. Make the venue a wading pool instead of an Olympic-sized pool to minimize collateral damage and coach them on a “win or learn” mindset to get them over the feelings of regret that come with high performers debriefing a bad performance.
Many sales leaders forget to burn their cape before heading out on a call with one of their salespeople, which prompts them to swoop in and rescue their rep when they “feel” that their meeting is going sideways.
Rescuing your rep in front of a prospect kills their credibility with their prospect, who will likely eat up your only valuable, your time, communicating with you instead of your salesperson. Rescuing also prevents your salesperson from experiencing a learning opportunity that would have made them more effective the next time they reach a similar “wimp junction” moment with another prospect.
To help you burn your cape and achieve a positive result (whether that’s a “win” or a “learn”) when you’re providing field support clearly establish in advance with your salesperson why you’re attending the meeting and the role each of you will perform. For example your rep will lead the call and you will be an observer only or, in the case of a “team sell,” both of you will participate equally in the call.
Because buyers (and we’re all buyers at some point) like to talk to “the boss,” be up front with your prospect at the start of the meeting about your role. If you are an observer and your prospects attempts to engage you directly support your rep by passing their question over to them with something like, “great question, Prospect. Salesperson, how do you feel about that?”
This subtly signals to your prospect that your salesperson is leading the interaction from your side. In the rare cases when your prospect doesn’t get the hint gently remind them that your role is to observe to support your salesperson.
Pre-call planning and debriefing are critical parts of field support visits. We recommend to our clients to block 50% of the time allotted for your sales call to prepare with your rep and block time in your calendars immediately after your sales call to debrief while it is fresh in your mind to minimize the chances of conflict caused by you or your salesperson mis-remembering parts of your meeting.
Properly prepared, clearly communicated and definitely debriefed field support calls are a critical coaching behavior for you to support the growth of your sales team.
Until next time… go lead.