The role of a coach is to guide you in the sale by giving you information that you need in order to manage it to a satisfactory close, one that guarantees you not only the order, but also satisfied customers, solid references and repeat business. A coach can help you clarify the validity of your single sales objective, identify and meet the people who are filling the other buying influence roles for that objective and assess the buying situation so that you’re most effectively positioned with each one. To close any complex sale, you should develop at least one coach.
Looking for a coach is different from looking for your other three buying influences. The first three buying influences already exist. They’re waiting to be identified and you just have to find out where they are. Coaches have to be not only found but developed. The first three buying influences will already be playing their roles when you find them. The coach’s role is one that you, in effect create. In doing that, you must remember that the coach’s focus is your success in the specific sales objective for which you want the coaching.
In searching for someone to develop into a coach, you judge by three criteria:=
You have credibility with that person. Usually that is because the coach has won in a sale with you in the past. By definition, then, a good place to find potential coaches is among your own satisfied customers. If you sold someone a product last year and he or she has been grateful ever since, you’ve got an ideal candidate for a coach in terms of this first criterion. This person‘s past experience with you is that you can be trusted. That’s what credibility means.
The coach has credibility with the buying influences for your single sales objective. Once you find somebody who trusts you, you then have to be sure that this person is in turn trusted by the buying organization. A potential coach who doesn’t have credibility with the customer is going to be a poor liaison point, and the information he or she gives you about the sale may not be reliable.
Because credibility with the buying organization is so important, you’ll often find good coaches within that organization itself. We’ve already noted that people can play more than one buying influence role in a sale. A technical or user buyer who’s on your side would be an excellent candidate to play a coaching role. The best of all possible scenarios is to turn the economic buyer into a coach.
The coach wants your solution. In other words, he or she wants you to succeed although not necessarily in your career in general. A coach may be, but is not necessarily a mentor or friend. But by definition the coach wants you to succeed in this particular sales objective.
For some reason (it doesn’t matter what the reason is) this person see that it’s his or her own self-interest for the customer to accept your solution.
Coaches can usually be found among influences in the customer organization, but because the coach’s focus is on your success, you can also often find good ones within your own organization. One of the most innovative uses of a coach that we’ve seen recently was demonstrated by a sales representative who dramatically increased penetration in an account by turning his own boss into a coach. The boss had come up from the ranks and had sold into that account himself, and since his sales had been solid, mutually satisfying ones, he had good credibility with the buying influences. The sales representative was a leading salesman himself, so he had credibility with the boss. And because the new business would obviously benefit the selling organization the boss wanted the sales representative’s solution. So on all three counts the sales representative had developed an excellent coach.
You may not always be lucky enough to find potential coaches who perfectly fulfill all three criteria. But whenever those criteria suggest that someone might be developed into a coach, we recommend that you test that person’s potential usefulness by asking him or her for coaching. Seldom will a real coach refuse to give you the assistance you require.
Most people welcome the opportunity to give coaching. Being, a coach, in our culture has a very positive connotation, and few professionals will turn down the chance to demonstrate to fellow professionals that they are expert, and expertly placed, in their mutual field. Even a potential coach who doesn’t really have the information you need about the sale can often guide you to someone who does. As you nurture and develop coaches for different sales over time you’ll eventually build up a network of reliable sources who can guide you to key players in any account, no matter what your specific sales objective.