The 3 Biggest Sales Coaching Mistakes for Your Team’s Technology Usage

By Peri Shawn

Recently a friend of mine, Marshall, shared, “I do love my new job.”

I was surprised. I knew he was working evenings and most weekends. His new role didn’t seem to give him much time for his family life which I knew was important to him.

Later in our conversation, Marshall went on to confess, “I feel so stressed though. My boss thinks I know how to use all the technology for my job and I’m not comfortable telling her that I don’t. I’m learning the technology on my own time. Sometimes it takes me a full day to do something that my peers can do in an hour.”

To salespeople who know how to use specific technology, it can be a trusty side-kick (like R2D2). But to salespeople who are struggling to master specific technology, it can be an arch nemesis (like Darth Vader).

With this in mind, when you are sales coaching, ensure you also coach your salespeople on the technology they use before, during and/or after the sale.

Review the various forms of technology your salespeople use during your sales coaching conversations with them. When coaching your salespeople on the technology they use, try to avoid the following sales coaching mistakes.

Mistake #1: Showing a Salesperson How to Use the Technology

As much as it might seem like the “right” thing to do, don’t simply show your salespeople how to use a specific technology.

When you simply show your salespeople how to use it, they are not the ones doing the learning. You are.

Instead, either ask your salespeople questions or verbally guide them through the steps involved in using the technology. Determine which approach is best based on their level of knowledge and confidence. Often times it’s not so much about whether or not they can use a certain technology, but how well they use it.

Once you discover a salesperson is missing some technology knowledge (notice I say “some”… if he needs more it might mean he needs some training), ask the salesperson questions while he uses the technology.

As you ask questions, you’ll find where the salesperson is missing information or skills related to the technology used.

When you find a gap in the salesperson’s technology knowledge or ability, verbally share the necessary steps with him, while he physically handles the technology. This way, your salesperson does the learning, not just you.

Mistake #2: Not Discussing How to Use the Technology in Context

Once a team member has demonstrated that he can now use a particular technology, don’t just metaphorically pat him on his back and send him on his way. Instead, ask him to explain how he would use the technology in the context of his sales role.

If your salesperson uses specific software before a sale to communicate with you or others in your company, ask him questions about who it impacts and how the information he inputs is utilized.

If one of your salespeople uses a certain type of technology during a sales interaction, inquire about how he introduces the technology and positions it as an advantage to his prospects and clients.

If your team member uses technology after a sale, ask about the ways in which the information he inputs will help others on the team and in other departments.

The goal is to flesh out what your salespeople currently understand and then help them expand their perception to see the bigger picture of the reasons for using the technology. This includes discussing how to use the technology to better help prospects and clients.

Mistake #3: Letting Salespeople Walk Away from Sales Coaching Having Only Discussed Ideas

Even after your salespeople have learned about the technology and have been able to see its role in the bigger context, the coaching session is not over yet.

Be sure to also ask your salespeople to show you how the technology works in a sales conversation. As you know, it’s often one thing to talk about what to do and another to be able to actually do it.

Practice with your salespeople and see how they:

  • Introduce the technology as a value to prospects and clients
  • Position the technology as an advantage to prospect and clients
  • Integrate the technology into the sales conversation so it’s a helpful tool, rather than a cumbersome prop
  • Refer to the technology during the sales conversation
  • Use the technology in opportune moments
  • Share the technology in such a way that prospects and clients see it as not getting in the way of their buying decisions

When you coach your salespeople on how they are going to integrate technology into their sales conversations, you quickly discover where they might need additional help. It provides rich content for valuable sales coaching sessions with your salespeople.

By avoiding these three sales coaching mistakes when coaching your team’s use of technology, you’ll increase the likelihood that the powerful force of technology will work with your team to sell more. By coaching your salespeople on their use of technology, you’ll help ensure that technology goes from being Darth Vader to R2D2. May the sales force be with you.

About the Author

Peri Shawn is a sales coaching thought leader who transforms the complexity of getting salespeople to perform better into the fewest number of action steps to help them sell more. Peri’s company, the Coaching and Sales Institute (CSI), has been in the sales coaching business for 25 years and is the sales training and coaching behind the launch of such products as the debit card and Blackberry in Canada. Peri has authored Sell More with Sales Coaching (Wiley, September 2013) as well as the three corporate guidebooks.

Want to learn more about how technology can turn sales managers into leaders? Download the free Salesforce e-book.

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