The Knowing-Doing Gap
The number one reason you need to coach your Ag Sales Professional is the Knowing-Doing Gap. If you are an Ag Sales Professional, the number one reason you want someone to coach you is the Knowing-Doing Gap.
Unless you are brand new and haven’t been through any formal training, most sales people know the basic steps to the sales process. Prospect – Uncover a need – Present our product to that need – close- follow up. So, Knowing isn’t the issue. The problem is – Doing. Why? Could be laziness. We didn’t do a pre-call plan or even think about what we wanted to accomplish on the sales call prior to driving onto the farm. More often than not, it’s simply a lack of self-awareness on the sales call. We think we are following the sales process. Either way, doesn’t matter. The fact is that you spent a lot of time and company money to get the appointment in front of the producer and now you are not at your best.
It’s difficult on a farm call in the middle of all the chaos to know how we are coming across to our customers or if we are using the sales skills we know. Even if you have been through sales training, completely understand the process and do great in role play at sales meetings, there is still a difference when you are live in front of a customer. New objections are thrown at you. Unexpected people from the customer’s business show up at the meeting and can throw a wrench in your sales call. Dad shows up and starts telling you why he doesn’t think his son should do business with your company. His brother shows up and tells you how long it took to get loaded with feed at your mill or how long it took to unload beans at your elevator. One of the producers ten cats hops on the table and lays down on top of your presentation material. During a serious strategy session with the customer, he throws an invoice error from you on the table and wants to deal with it. Distractions happen. Sales calls can feel out of control like trying to herd those ten cats. Pretty soon, you are off your game and not asking deep business building questions anymore as you try to deal with the distractions.
Having an extra set of eyes and ears on the call can add valuable insight. I have come off of a sales call where a sales person never asked one single question. When I probed for how that sales person thought the call went. The reply – “Great”. I dug a little further and asked, “How did you do with asking questions?” The reply, “Good. I think I asked enough to know what I needed to present the solution”. I dug even further and said, “Sounds good, what were some of those questions because I can’t remember them?” You get the picture. We soon discovered together that the sales person hadn’t asked questions. This person was a fairly competent sales person with fairly decent results. I truly don’t think he was lying to me. It’s just the self-awareness piece or that in his mind, he asked questions during the call. We brainstormed ways to improve…write down several key questions that you think are important, etc.
The point is that even the best on your team can use an extra set of eyes on their technique. In our daily life, we all know that we need to eat less and exercise more. We Know it, we just don’t always Do it. Research has proven over and over that we are more likely to improve and stick to our good habits if we have a coach or an accountability partner. Coaching is exactly that accountability partner that helps you get better and observes your behavior from different angles. In addition, if that coach is working with 8-10 other sales people, you get the benefit of knowing what is working or not working from those 8-10 people as well.
If you are a coach, don’t be worried that your sales team is knowledgeable about the sales process. You probably won’t tell them something about the process that they didn’t already Know. However, you might find a bunch of things they could be Doing to get better.
If you are a sales person who has a coach, be thankful and embrace it. Ask a lot of questions. If feedback is vague, push your coach for more details. Be open about what you struggle with. Don’t try to hide your weaknesses or struggles. A good coach can see it. They just want you to see it and come up with the solution together. Odds are, other sale people are struggling with that same thing. Your coach can help.
To Schedule a Free 15-minute coaching session today, contact me directly at Greg@GregMartinelli.net
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