Six Questions to Coach a Gritty Sales Team
I’ve written before about Angela Lee Duckworth’s concept of “grit,” which she discussed in her popular TED talk, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Duckworth defines grit as a winning combination of passion and perseverance, and she found that this quality is high among very successful people (including salespeople).
How do passion and perseverance manifest as behaviors among salespeople? As a manager, you’ve probably noticed the grittiest members of your sales team tend to do the following.
- Make extra phone calls
- Are tenacious about following up
- Respond quickly to inbound leads
- Go the extra mile to earn the customer’s trust
- Display creativity when it comes to accessing key stakeholders
- Get the customer to reconsider his or her options
- Send notes of gratitude to customers and prospects
- Conduct in-depth research on customers before calling on them
- Work to understand the prospect’s business rather than leading with the standard pitch deck
- Finish what they start
- Show an ability to maintain a long-term focus to achieve goals
As you can probably guess, one quality doesn’t necessarily work without the other— salespeople who are passionate but don’t work diligently are a flash in the pan. And salespeople who work hard but don’t have the right level of enthusiasm will probably fail to become top performers.
As a sales manager, your job is to make sure your salespeople display both qualities. Here is a list of coaching questions you can ask to help them stay on track.
- “What are you doing to generate more qualified appointments?”
- “What actions are you taking to follow up with prospects after calls?”
- “What extra steps are you taking to conduct pre-call research and understand the customer’s business needs before meetings or calls?”
- “How are you adapting your standard presentation to the customer’s unique needs and concerns?”
- “What are you doing to prove the unique value of your solution to the customer?”
- What else can you do to ensure you win this deal and how can I help?
These open-ended questions should ideally be an integral part of the coaching you do every single day. You may need a serious shift in your approach if your main question to salespeople is: “When are you going to close the deals in your pipeline?” The sales coaching questions listed above will provide a much better chance for you to develop a gritty and winning sales team.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.