Field Coaching – The Coaching & Model Call
Field training is the fastest way to improve performance–bar none. Field training is divided into two parts, 1) the “Coaching Call” and 2) the “Model Call.” The purpose of the coaching call is to ensure that a) the rep is covering the product/service selling points, b) the demo is well presented, c) the rep has learned his product/services, and d) he is following all the “Steps of the Sale,” including the set-up, the close, overcoming objections, trial close questions, the close question, etc.
The key to an appropriate coaching call is to first ensure your coach has refined his skills or at least knows what good performance should be… even if they haven’t quite got it down perfectly yet. The world’s best swimming coach doesn’t have to be the world’s best swimmer if he at least knows what makes a good swimmer. We must learn how to identify the steps of the sale from the training manual (please reread it as needed) before seeking any field training.
In addition, the trainer should be better than the trainee. If you don’t know your material or your ratios are lower than the person you are supposed to help, then find a team member who can act as a mentor. Better yet, follow the steps to improve your own skills, or you’ll mess up a perfectly talented rep. Later there will be a certification program to ensure you are up to speed–for now, do your best.
When To Perform Field Coaching
We want our reps to learn how to self-correct. This means that they will circle the one activity and the one ratio each week to work on. This is the Personal Appraisal Review (PAR). They will then complete the Personal Improvement Plan (PIP). This includes writing the areas to improve and what they will do to improve.
Using this process and learning from the sales manual should fix the problem and increase the ratio. However, if it does not, then they probably can’t recognize what is wrong–they may be too close to the problem to see it. In fact, in the example of leaving a call-back message, the problem was as simple as talking too fast when leaving a call-back number–but it was hard to notice unless someone else pointed it out.
In this case, they should talk to their manager and schedule a coaching call. The manager may do a coaching call personally, ask for the team member to record their call (typically three examples–we are looking for patterns, not mistakes, or have another member of the team observe. If done in person, the “coach” would follow the steps of the coaching call below.
Please invite anyone who you select as a coach to read this section so they are effective.
The Coaching Call
Following are the steps to field coaching:
- Pre-call briefing – tell the rep you won’t interfere or help out–you will only observe. You’re there only to identify behavior. Ensure that the rep knows where the training manual is (physical or online).
- Observed the rep giving three separate presentations if possible – you are looking for patterns, not mistakes and should see him a demo, close, overcome objections, or a specific area requested more than once.
- Make notes – silently jot down how the rep is doing with all the specific areas (or with all steps of the sale if it is a general coaching call) while you are watching him.
- Be wise – do not tell the rep anything about his performance between demos or he will change that behavior and you won’t see his typical presentation.
- Never EVER step in and try to save the sale–bite your tongue! The lessons learned are more important than closing that particular deal. Besides, they may be able to revisit the account again to try again in many cases.
- The wrap-up chat – when you have completed the last presentation then meet and have him pull out his training manual (or pull it up online). Circle or point out two areas (at most) for him to improve from the table of contents–please do not overwhelm him with anything more than two (hold back) or you won’t help him. If his presentation is good but his performance/motivation is lacking, then circle the job description section, the “Super Seven Success System,” the weekly bonus, etc., and identify the area to work on.
- Ask him to complete a P.I.P. (Performance Improvement Plan (from “The Game of Work”)) and to give you a copy. It is best if he can take the 5-10 minutes right then and complete the form.
- Explain that you will follow up on his P.I.P. the following week.
- Praise him. Now is the time to reinforce EVERYTHING you caught him doing RIGHT.
- Thank him. Tell your rep how much you appreciate his efforts to improve and express your confidence in his ability to improve the areas you helped identify. Express your expectations that he continue all his good behavior that you also identified.
- Complete the first part of the P.A.R. and submit it to your manager with the team’s weekly reports.
- Follow up. Remember, Goals begin behavior, and consequences maintain it. If the representative has not completed his P.I.P.–do not let him off the hook. For the rep’s sake, he must improve his performance to the standard to be successful at his job.
- If the rep has several major areas that need to be improved (you can only work on a few at a time) then wait until he has completed his current improvement and then reschedule another coaching and/or model call to fix the other areas (ONLY two at a time).
The basic rule on the number of visits: You must do as much training as is necessary to get a rep’s performance up to the “Standard of Performance” as soon as possible. He doesn’t have to be perfect–but if he’s got faults (sloppy presentation, boring, disorganized, doesn’t know product/service, etc.) that are big enough that he can’t close, then his problems must be fixed or he won’t be successful!
It doesn’t matter how many coaching or model calls you make, whether it’s 1 or 10–you must do whatever it takes to fix the bugs (period). We don’t want to float with a number (like 4 visits) but we’d all agree that we must be willing to help at least once each month if anything, just to show our support and to prevent “de-training” (resorting back to bad habits).
This self-governing approach should not be abused, however–if a manager doesn’t train his people because he’s not wise enough to make the time, and it’s obvious by a rep’s poor performance or when he comes to training, then we will have to use “situational” leadership and direct that manager to have a certain number of rep field calls. We do not want that to happen, but at least you know what to expect if you don’t use your initiative–hint, hint.
One point to consider: “If” anyone requires over 4 sessions for a single area, then they probably have too much baggage, or are not humble enough to be teachable and might not be salvageable in this role. Consider this when deciding which reps should continue if you cannot help them.
Congratulations, you have learned the steps to an effective coaching call! Give yourself a one-minute praise!
The Model Call
The Model Call is simple. If a rep is not able to improve his performance on his own, by studying the training materials, or by making changes via a coaching call, then he usually needs to see what good performance looks like, by example. Have the rep observe a few of your manager’s or peers’ appointments so they can show him, by example, how to improve his weak areas.
Depending on the circumstances, and your schedule, you might schedule a model call (and see how it should be done) immediately after the coaching call. If you wish, you may also have him observe another rep on the team who is strong in the area needing improvement.
If you find a rep who cannot learn or will not be helped and his performance is still not acceptable (not within the range of the standard of performance (the average of the entire group)), and you cannot help them, then you need to find a replacement–and they need to find work that they can succeed at (not everyone is good at everything–it’s just a matter of fit).
Remember to let the office know of the situation so they can document the problem and approve the reassignment before talking to the rep about moving him over to another area or division, etc. We hate to lose somebody but it is better to let a rep go than to risk losing an entire account, or several accounts because he will not or cannot change his performance–and it is better for the rep to be doing work he/she is more suited for.
Win The Game of Work
Remember, a team member can improve every area if they follow this process. First, they need to try to self-correct with the P.A.R. and P.I.P. Then they should get help with a coaching call and/or see how it should be done with a model call. These are the tools that a good manager will use to help their team become successful. If done properly, and by having fun playing “The Game of Work,” they will improve and master one area at a time until all skills are optimized–then they are the master of the game. They’ll also be much more happy with their work and increased income.
- When should you set up a coaching call?
- When would you use a model call?
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