Deal coaching has an impact on winning large deals right now. That makes it the most important thing a sales manager does.
Great deal coaches could learn from Bill Belichick’s playbook, head coach of the New England Patriots. He’s considered the BEST coach of the BEST team in the NFL (personal disclaimer – I am a Browns fan still awaiting the return of professional football to Cleveland).
Belichick is famous for his legendary halftime adjustments. For him, the real game starts after the first two quarters when competitive tendencies can be examined and strategic shifts made. He’s downright lethal when devising counter-punches based on actual first-half data.
In Bill’s NFL world, he gets to work with real performance data – what actually happened halfway through a game. A sales manager has no such advantage. Unlike a football coach, a deal coach has to rely on the salesperson’s subjective view of reality as to what happened during a sales call. And, as every Sales Leader knows, what salespeople think they heard versus what actually happened can be two very different things.
Salespeople filter information through rose-colored ears. They can’t help it – they’re biased optimists who have a predictable tendency to over-inflate the value of their opportunities.
To compound matters for coaches, their working memory is having difficulty keeping up these days. A sales brain was never wired to capture increasingly complex details from digitally empowered decision-makers. As a result, important information is missed or forgotten almost as fast as it is shared. But, salespeople see no problem here. In fact, salespeople rate themselves at 80% accurate in their ability to recall important data from meetings.
The reality after testing: about 40% accurate.
What salespeople think they hear – and what is actually said – are often two very different things. It’s a proven fact.
This “information distortion” dilemma puts a great deal of stress on deal coaches whose advice is only as good as the facts. Belichick might not be such a good strategist if he had to deal with uncertainty, misinformation, and ambiguity when creating or modifying his game plan.
The solution is to arm sales managers with factual data on what actually transpired during the first half of the game. Information has value to the extent that it has the potential for re-use. And, sales conversation data – what the buyer actually said during the first 2/3rd of a selling cycle – can be re-used in multiple ways to improve the odds of winning the deal.
Factual data capture is now accomplished with a special app on a tablet device that records audio during note-taking. Later, the conversation is broken down by topics discussed, generating curated conversations for review. And, if you think buyers would resist, you’re not seeing it through their lens.
Today, buyers want increased transparency in sales calls. They want a way to revisit past conversations to mitigate their risk and make sure promises have been kept. They want to make sure solutions are done right the first time. And, they don’t want to HOPE that salespeople are capturing and sharing their requirements accurately – they want to KNOW. Thus, the salesperson who offers this capability in a competitive situation has a distinct advantage.
Transparency is a benefit.
Deal coaching today is an art badly in need of science. Performance data is essential to make that shift. Serious B2B companies are now capturing real-time conversation data in the field to the benefit of the buyer and the seller. As a result, they’ve gained a better way to partner together, win together, and create success.
Along the way, deals are won more often and salespeople get better faster.
So, take a page out of Bill Belichick’s playbook and remember these words of wisdom:
“Strategy without information is the slowest route to victory.”