Coaching My Sales Team: A Lesson in Simplicity

Sasanka Atapattu
August 31, 2016

I was recently reminded by my sales team that, often times, the way I’m thinking about the business in the future doesn’t help them solve short term problems they are having today. You can be really excited about your company’s future, whether that’s with a new feature or new process, but you need the ability to adapt your coaching style and approach to what is happening in the business today.

*Note to reader: I’m still figuring this out, so if you are looking for the perfect formula here, you’ll have to wait till we close our Series A in 2017.

The fun of being in a growing startup or new business unit of a large company is the ability to learn and evolve. However as a manager, you often have knowledge that your team may not be privy to. Alternatively you might be excited about the change and want to prepare your team for this new evolution of your company. The problem? Who’s ensuring your current business is surviving or growing?

In our case, we’ve changed our pricing model to strengthen our relationship with our customers and provide them with a built-in incentive to work with us. As we were trying different pricing points, my team had too many data points in their head and got confused. The result - a lack of consensus and understanding about our pricing and the reasons behind it.

I’m happy to report that our team is still small enough that the lack of consensus didn’t translate to any crazy situations, since at the time we were still finalizing our pricing through customer conversations, but it was a reminder to me as a leader to keep the messaging simple.

When the confusion was brought up by various members of the team, I called a meeting and went through the pricing in the simplest way. When I tried to rationalize the future of the various pricing models, my team cut me off. They indicated that they trusted me and that they just needed a simple answer for our new clients today.

Upon completion of the meeting, our pipeline tripled in just 10 business days. Why? The team felt confident in answering questions around our business and pricing model, and therefore were able to have more constructive conversations.

So next time you are coaching your rep, observe how they are doing in your business as it stands today, and be prepared to coach them to success. It’s simple:

An Increase Simplicity = An Increase in Productivity