When we talk about business coaching, it’s important to remember that the knowledge and skills gained is not only for internal benefit, but also external; enabling you to build positive working relationships with your key stakeholders.
Stakeholders can also benefit from introducing a coaching culture into a business. A key stakeholder is generally considered to be any person or group with an interest in your business or business’ activities.
So how can coaching help you to communicate and engage better with your key stakeholders?
Most buyers these days know what they’re looking for and carry out most, if not all, of their research before purchasing. This means a longer sales cycle and more opportunities for your lead to engage or even disengage. Indeed, it is now more vital than ever to keep that positive relationship throughout the process consistent.
Using skills gained through coaching, sales teams can develop techniques which help them engage with the customer through various methods. This includes the SPIN technique:
- Finding out whether the customer would like help and what they would like to achieve (contracting),
- Inquiring what options the customer has already thought through or tried (listening),
- Exploring what alternatives options the customer might be interested in (exploring),
- Supporting the customer while they try on clothes, operate the self-service checkout (action)
- Gain feedback and checking if there is any additional help the customer might need (review/reflection).
SPIN stands for the four question types asked in sequence that are needed to get the sale:
- Situation Questions – Data-gathering questions about background and facts about the company you are calling on.
- Problem Questions – Questions which explore problems, difficulties, and dissatisfactions in areas where your product or service can help.
- Implication Questions – These types of questions take a client’s problem and explore its effects or consequences.
- Need-Payoff Questions – These types of questions get the client to tell YOU the benefits that your solution could offer.
Sales Improvement Services has recently worked with sales executives at a well-known IT company using coaching and the CLEAR model (Coaching, Listening, Exploring, Action, Reflection/Review) to engage with their software VAR partners.
Throughout 2015 this enabled them re-engage with their clients, qualify where potential new partners could be found and customise the on-boarding process to speed up their sales process.
The CLEAR approach can also work well for suppliers. Companies can use it to select key partners and build up rapport, trust and mutual profitable styles of collaborative working. This can carried out through setting clear terms of engagement and service level agreements which each party is confident the other can fulfil.
This is typified by a Sales Improvement Services client working within the IT Service Management (ITSM) industry who selected a vendor to work with which adds value to their own end user customers.
Many businesses also have compliance or industry-specific regulatory bodies they have to work with on a regular basis. Using business coaching methods such as CLEAR can also help in these relationships.
Recently, a Further Education College, approached Sales Improvement Services with the aim of improving their Ofsted rating from Good to Outstanding. Rather than sit back and wait for an Ofsted inspection to give them areas to improve in, the college implemented the CLEAR model to identify their weaknesses and plan to address these to better meet their goal. Coaching was then used to help them address these weaknesses and prepare for their next Oftsed inspection.
Another client working in the Financial Services sector had ended up with special measures imposed due to a number of discrepancies in client engagement. They faced a visit from their overseeing body to ensure adequate policies and procedures had been introduced to rectify these issues.
To illustrate their new compliance, they gathered reviews and supporting evidence and utilised a CLEAR approach during their meeting with the assessor. This encouraged good rapport and interaction with the assessor and an encouraging outcome, helping them to achieve the necessary compliance obligations.
Adopting a CLEAR coaching style to all your key stakeholder communications will provide a more collaborative relationship, help engage with clients as well as support customer service improvements. This approach will also improve stakeholder confidence in the organisation which can increase the ROI from investing in a coaching culture.
Are you interested in adopting a coaching culture to improve stakeholder engagement? Contact us to receive your free consultation.