Coaching is an investment and should be a positive experience for your pharma reps, where they learn what they do well and discover where they can improve.
Below are three proven coaching actions used by effective pharma sales managers to help their teams reach business goals.
1. Effective pharma sales managers leverage individual styles on teams to gain advantage.
Coaches help others succeed. To do so, pharma sales managers must discover the talent on their teams and harness it.
Since no two individuals are alike, your sales managers should expect the key motivators for each seller to vary too. Identifying each team member’s individual style and preferences, and adjusting the coaching to the individual, will have a major impact. For example:
• Some individuals speak in facts and figures, so a coach might show them the sales target and let them go to work. Such folks may be self-motivated and will figure out how to reach those goals on their own.
• Other individuals need a plan and plenty of direction, so a coach will have to invest more time to show/encourage them along the way to achieve targeted results.
• Still others are pioneers and big thinkers, so they may need to be reeled in from time to time. A sales coach doesn’t want to stifle their motivation and creativity but wants them to be aligned with the sales plan expectations.
Sales managers need to take time to understand their sales reps individual working styles and preferences and then coach to them.
2. Effective pharma sales managers develop a plan to resolve the biggest challenges.
It’s crucial for managers to understand the challenges their teams face, the factors behind those problems, and how to remove barriers. Here are some common challenges:
• Are there sales gaps? If so, where do they exist and what causes them? Managers should ask their teams these questions and get their input, because reps are on the front line and know what works best to get results. Sales managers who are coaching may not have all the answers—they should tap into the team’s knowledge for greater insight and better solutions.
• Are sales reps sharing best practices? Effective managers encourage sales reps to communicate and help each other. They identify barriers and find ways to remove them through the coaching conversations.
• Are managers coaching field reps to have the right conversations? Do they know what questions to ask to better understand a prospect’s needs? If not, your managers should establish a standard set of questions, coach their teams on how to ask them, and gauge how these questions are working.
Also, use role-playing. A lot can be learned through this activity between manager and sales rep. When managers have better insight into their teams’ sales conversations, they can better determine how to coach for best results.
3. Effective pharma sales managers use data to hold teams accountable.
Data is a powerful tool the pharma sales manager can leverage. Managers need to use data to provide feedback on how team members are performing. And they should not shy away from constructive feedback. Coaches who emphasize only the positive rarely get targeted results.
Encourage managers to set an agenda for their coaching conversations, so they know where improvements are being made and they can consistently track results. They should also have a vision of what success looks like. This is the best way to tell what teams are working toward and when they achieve it.
Pharma sales managers should refresh their data weekly and integrate it into all their coaching conversations. They can then use this data to drive discussions about current and desired performance.
Coaching is a powerful investment.
Sales teams spend a lot of time, effort and resources on coaching models, frameworks and tools. It’s critical for sales managers to know how to use them to drive the desired results.
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