With a reduction in the size of many in field sales teams, the need to maximise the value of each customer interaction has never been more paramount. A key factor that is often undervalued in this process is how to ensure the coaching received by the Sales Representative is as good as it can possibly be.
To do so, you need to invest in the coaching of the coach. There are many ways to do this, but what is the optimal route to providing real-world coaching support?
Ian Robinson of Pharmability Consulting Ltd has built a robust and innovative methodology known as ‘Coach to Coach’, which defines and supports an end-to-end framework to describe best practice in executing consistent, sequential quality coaching.
The latest organisation to have recognised the importance of embracing this approach and proactively investing in their coach’s skills is Star.
A number of the Star Regional Business Managers have been observed, benchmarked and coached to deliver an agreed set of standards designed to optimise the impact of their coaching activity. Importantly, the approach is set up to achieve truly sequential coaching over a period of time, leveraging both local and remote interventions to accelerate the performance development of in field teams.
The programme looks at each of the stages of the coaching journey and helps participants understand what good looks like every step along that journey. By creating this standard, each RBM can build a picture of their strengths and an awareness of the areas to prioritise for further development.
Lianne Ridgway, an experienced RBM, shared her experience of the programme. “I believe when you are in the whirlwind of the busy day job and all the demands that brings, it’s easy to lose sight of your strengths and get caught up in focusing on the things that aren’t going so well”, she says.
“The opportunity to have Ian alongside me for the day was a welcome ray of light! I was particularly looking forward to gaining some feedback on my coaching style, and also a little inspiration on freshening up my approach. It encouraged me to face my own opportunities around pre-coaching planning and also building a sequential coaching approach.
“As a result of the day I felt a real element of validation and positivity around the things I do well. The feedback was really positive and thought-provoking, helping me to use techniques to refine my approach to pre-coaching planning, and to build in some simple steps to support a sequential coaching framework.
“What has also been great is the feedback from my ‘coachee’ following our coaching day. She had some positive outcomes from a tough account, and she puts it down to the in-depth coaching we did prior to the call on the day. Result!”
Greg Palin, a relatively new RBM in the Star Syndicated team, felt that it was helpful to reflect on his coaching skills leading up to the day. “I thought about my perceived strengths and what I wanted to focus on to improve coaching, and the initial discussion at the start of the day provided some quick wins to work on immediately.
“I took away a number of practical things that I have since been working on, including the balance of me providing input versus the coachee doing so, and also maintaining a clear and consistent coaching focus on an agreed skill throughout the day.”
Ultimately, each of the RBM participants now have a specific development plan that is focused purely on enhancing their in-call coaching capabilities. By reinforcing strengths and creating awareness of priority skills to develop, RBMs are better placed to deliver accelerated skills development for their coaches, and in turn, create even more value for customers and patients.
Lianne recognises the value of the investment in her from Star. “Ideally this sort of intervention should become an experience that’s used as part of a manager’s development as a normal, ongoing sequential process”, she says. “This is the least we expect to do with our own coachees, so to work for an organisation that invests in this tool for its managers is a real positive!”
Coach 2 Coach has proved to be an extremely popular program for individual RBMs, with a consistently high level of satisfaction reported by delegates (current Net Promoter Score >75%).
It also provides some unique insights for organisations in identifying opportunities to challenge the way that in-field teams are supported to deliver commercial excellence in an increasingly competitive environment.
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