You know tech. It's what you do. But being successful means you need clients. And not just a handful of them. As we mentioned in "The Key to Stronger Revenue in 2017: Diversifying Your Client Base," when you rely mostly on one or two major clients, your entire company could be at risk if you lose them.
If you don't know how to increase sales, it might be time to consider a sales coach. A coach can give you small business sales tips and help you get more comfortable selling your services.
(Related: "3 IT Sales Tips to Help You Avoid Becoming a Free Consultant")
3 Sure-Fire Signs You Might Benefit from a Sales Coach
1. You're Scared to Pick Up the Phone
Glenn Donovan (@TopSalesCoach), a
sales coach who specializes in working with startups, says he typically encounters two types of clients who need his help:
- Those who expect a magic bullet.
- Those who are afraid of selling.
"There's one archetype who reads a lot of blogs and is always chasing the latest thing he read on some marketing site," says Donovan. "They become convinced that sales success is some kind of trick, and if they could just learn the trick, everything would be fine. The other kind is people who are scared to sell because they don't know what they're doing. They're scared to pick up the phone and talk to people."
2. You're Out of Leads or Short on Clients
Has a dry sales funnel snuck up on you before?
Nikki Lagouros-Davis (@NewHomeSalesAdv),
sales coach and founder of
says that's a sign you could use some help.
(Related: "Building Relationships to Keep Your Client Pipeline Full")
"Many owners get caught in a scenario where they have a shortage of leads [or] clients and become panicked," says Lagouros-Davis. "This leads to a shotgun approach to marketing rather than rifle precision. Typically your end results are blown budgets, failed campaigns, lack of ROI, no identifiable metrics, and a very small capture rate."
Steve Stearns (@KOSalesCoach),
K.O. Sales Coach,
adds that if you can count your clients on one hand, that's a red flag.
3. You Heavily Rely on Discounts to Seal the Deal
Steve Stearns also says you might benefit from coaching if you rely too heavily on discounting to close deals. That might stem from uncertainty about how to keep the funnel or conversation moving toward a sale.
If any of these signs sound familiar to you, it may be time to call in reinforcements.
What Can You Expect from a Sales Coach?
Once you hire a sales coach, there's a "getting to know you" phase. Your new coach needs to learn all they can about you and your company.
"As a coach, I have to really understand my clients' businesses," says Donovan. "So I have to spend some time with them. The way I work with each client varies a lot based on what they're trying to get done and what their challenges are."
Once your coach has a sense of how your business operates, they can help you hone your salesmanship.
"A good coach will work with you to develop the skills you need to land a higher percentage of clients," says Stearns. "Additionally, you'll see more profitable deals based on strategies that rely less on negotiating price and more on establishing value."
A good coach will continue to nudge you along, even if you get discouraged with selling.
"Sales coaches drive performance," says Lagouros-Davis. "Like any skill, sales must be practiced, nurtured, and coached. A great sales coach is innovative and will challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone."
Is a Sales Coach Really Worth the Cost?
You know you need more clients, but when you're short on cash, it can be tough to take on another expense. So what kind of results can you realistically expect from a sales coach?
"A sales coach can help you land more clients in the short term, and work to help you develop the skills you'll need for long-term growth," says Stearns. "A coach can help you take full advantage of your natural abilities, while helping you overcome weaknesses that may hold you back. It's an investment in personal development that pays big dividends in the long run."
When evaluating the success of a coaching relationship, it's important to remember you probably won't see instant results. But that doesn't mean it isn't working.
Donovan suggests you "pick a period of time where you agree you've got to see meaningful results from the coach."
"What I do with my clients is say, 'Listen, I can't make promises about results coming in the door. But what I can tell you is in 30 to 90 days, I'll start to be able to tell you where I can have a real impact,'" he says.
So before you hire a coach, keep in mind that this is a long-term strategy for your business, not a quick fix. Interview a few coaches, establish some benchmarks, and evaluate your results together. You may never love selling, but you can learn how to get better at it.
About the Contributors
Glenn Donovan is a sales coach for startups. He is a classically trained, high-energy consultative B2B sales and marketing executive with strong strategic skills. Donovan has sold into both enterprise accounts and emerging businesses and has worked in business development roles breaking into new markets with new products. He has integrated marketing and sales vertical industry teams and is a certified Net Promoter© Customer Experience Management consultant.
Nikki Lagouros-Davis is the founder of Sales Simplified. Her specialties are B2C sales and consultative sales approaches to develop sales hunters, leaders, and successful salespeople. Lagouros-Davis places a strong emphasis on the role of psychology in sales, as well as the forgotten fundamentals and principles. She has trained, coached, and mentored dozens of salespeople, many who have gone on to be top performers in their fields.
Steve Stearns has been training and coaching sales professionals since 1983. He has developed training curricula for sales, management, and leadership courses utilizing various methods and multimedia tools. As the host of the KO Sales Coach Podcast, he shares proven selling techniques, strategies, and tips to help sales professionals enhance their skills and take their careers to a new level.