Coach Your Sellers to See the Invisible, says Ryan Kubacki

Make your sales strategy competitive with these sales performance tips from Ryan Kubacki, President of Holden International

5 min read

“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”

Sun Tzu

Now that you understand that sales is a management science, you are ready to look at the second of three key characteristics of successful sales organizations; they:

Follow a sales methodology that integrates relevant skills for winning in their market

Namely one that makes competitive sales strategy tangible and isolates key performance indicators that produce winning behavior.  This impacts formation of individual quotas, territories, and sales compensation plans. A good sales methodology makes competitive sales strategy implementable and repeatable. 

Sales strategy has one major job: to clearly define what you are counting on to win, whether it be an opportunity, account, or territory. Every tactic—everything you physically do—must directly or indirectly advance your strategy.  The result is to create a nontraditional source of competitive advantage -- because most people are not strategic by nature.  They cannot see it, which prevents them from formulating it. 

Therefore, they need a methodology to guide them and make it visible. For example, spectators who did not know a lot about hockey and watched the underdog United States hockey team defeat the dominant Russians in the 1980 Olympics saw tactics: players skating around in circles with the puck and seemingly not taking a lot of shots on the goal. 

However, spectators with an advanced understanding of the game saw the U.S. coach’s strategy of keeping the puck away from the Russians, which shifted the advantage to the smaller and better-conditioned U.S. players and away from the larger and stronger Russian players. Because most sellers don’t possess this ability to see strategy, they remain uninformed spectators who aren’t able to formulate strategy on their own.

For this reason, they seldom deploy effective strategy even during the most competitive of sales situations.  We observe this during deal reviews, when the majority of sellers answer our question “What is your strategy to win?” with either a blank stare or a forty-five minute data dump of all their sales activity. This is good news for you; you can hone the ability to see strategy by following a sales methodology that codifies what to look for.

Once you can see it, you can then understand it.  And when you understand it, you can then formulate and deploy it with great affect. A key performance indicator to track is your sales managers’ ability to coach the methodology in the form of a “deal review.”  This is a two-hour session between the sales manager and account team in which the sales manager coaches the account team towards the successful completion of a sales plan, one that is based on a competitive sales methodology.  Our extensive experience shows that win rates increase when managers coach deal reviews.

Our top performing clients take this a step further.  They create a non-revenue based portion of the sales manager compensation plan that is based on the sales manager’s ability to coach a deal review.  This can be tracked by the quality of sales plans completed and advanced, along with the frequency of deal reviews. Does your sales compensation plan motivate winning behavior that may not be tangible, but is powerful, like coaching deal reviews? 

Ryan Kubacki is President of Holden International, a global sales training and advisory firm. He is also co-author of The New Power Base Selling: Master the Politics, Create Unexpected Value & Higher Margins, and Outsmart the Competition. Pre-order your copy.