Imagine if your employer engagement team was at the top of their game every single day. What’s the key to realising this success? It’s the difference between managing and coaching your team. In our experience, consultants who receive coaching increase performance by 400% compared to their peers! And, not surprisingly, team member retention rates lift by 20%!

For many line managers tasked with leading an employer engagement team, learning the art of sales coaching can seem daunting. Very often, line managers are promoted on the back of being excellent job coaches. It is uncommon for managers to have directly engaged employers in prior roles. They therefore find it difficult to understand what success looks like.

For example, Prospert once met a line manager with an underperforming business development officer. Feeling powerless to improve their performance, the line manager eventually insisted on attending employer appointments with their officer. Only by direct observation did they realise why performance was so poor.
Despite these challenges, line managers have several tools available to improve their team’s employer engagement. Prospert offers these 10 things to know when coaching employer engagement teams.

1. Treat employer engagement as a separate discipline to working with customers

Employer engagement is not simply an ‘add on’ to job coaching. Consultants need to broker a complex sale between two very different customer types. They may need to overcome objections and deal with customer variability. They must visit employers on site and create solutions to solve their problems. Developing expertise in local industries is also helpful.

2. Deploy a simple employer engagement framework

Inevitably, your team often has a mix of business development skills and backgrounds. If they have external experience to employment services, they will look to you for coaching on how to apply this in a new industry context. Deploying a simple employer engagement roadmap will provide them with confidence and a ‘way’ of engaging employers to consistently follow. We recommend our Seven Step Sales Framework; however, your organisation may have their own ‘way’.

3. Speak a consistent employer engagement language

Create an externally facing culture with your language when discussing employer engagement. Use terms such as: face to face engagements per week; percentage of successful approaches; employer caseload; and placements per employer. Probe on whether employers are new or existing. Share the load on lead generation across the whole team, including visitors to your site.

4. Provide a practical sales toolkit

Provide your team with a simple sales toolkit comprising templates for sales planning, target identification, daily/weekly time management, employer and job profiling, and annual reviews. Share answers to common employer objections they are likely to face. Check their understanding of each tool’s purpose and follow up their use by asking for completed examples.

5. Recruit, develop and reward proactive consultants

Good business developers are extremely hard to attract to employment services. So, when you have one with high potential, you must constantly develop and reward their performance. Stick to your commitments to support and coach your team, enquire about their daily plans, conduct post appointment debriefs, regularly attend employer meetings and review sales outcomes. They will crave the attention! We encourage leaders to reserve time in your weekly diary to attend new business meetings – those who do really enjoy the experience and learn a great deal.

6. Induct new recruits in strategy, processes, and systems

Your employer engagement team must know where they sit in the bigger picture. Induction is the ideal time. They need to understand the sales strategy, how your processes or sales framework is applied, and the role of your organisation’s customer relationship management platform. We have met many confused consultants who were never properly inducted! Despite their high potential, they inevitably leave the organisation and impact your employment brand.

7. Create a reliable and pragmatic system for sales forecasting

It is almost impossible to achieve sales targets if you don’t know where you are going. In a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire Cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” replied the cat. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter which road you take.” Line managers must have a fair idea of how their team is going to achieve its sales target each month, quarter, half year, and full year. This requires understanding which employers are likely to deliver placements and when this will happen. Having no plan leads to stress and anxiety month in, month out!

8. Track progress at employer and consultant level

Effective monitoring is not micro-management. It is keeping abreast of how a team (or individual) is progressing against an agreed benchmark. Knowing what your people are up to and what they are trying to achieve negates the need for micro-management. If you know, you don’t need to keep asking them! Line managers need to be aware of how your team are performing (recent results), what they have currently in the mix (pipeline, work-in-progress, or funnel) and what they intend to do soon (pre-commitment).

9. Implement sales reporting to provide insights into performance

Your sales reporting must provide insights into your team’s actual versus potential performance, enabling you as their line manager to “Ask EVA”. EVA stands for “Effort versus Ability”. A team member high on effort and ability is an Asset whilst someone low on both is a potential “Liability”. Frequently, many team members will struggle with motivation and be running on “Auto Pilot” even though they have sales skills. Finally, your newer team members may “Struggle” with adapting their skills to employment services. Understanding where each team member sits in the EVA quadrant model is critical. Objectively determining where they sit is a matter of gathering enough evidence to make your judgement.

10. Delivering constructive, on-the-job sales coaching

  • A one size fits all approach to coaching is not recommended. As your team member may fit in any one of the four EVA quadrants, a different coaching style is needed for each.
  • With Assets, leaders need to consistently acknowledge their performance, allocate required resources; and challenge them to grow their sales skills with more complex activity.
  • With Auto Pilots, their motivation is influenced by internal and/or external factors (often you as their leader!); you need to set clear expectations, develop an agreed strategy to achieve them; and ensure you are not creating obstacles that prevent their productive efforts.
  • With Strugglers, adopt a coaching tyle, high on direction and support; pay close attention to their sales efforts; provide praise to build their confidence and encourage initiative; and undertake joint sales efforts – providing on the spot coaching and feedback after each employer engagement.
  • With Liabilities, provide significant direction, including informal performance counselling where appropriate; arrange for the consultant to undertake a joint sales call with an Asset, demonstrating how the sales process works and what success looks like; create a step-by-step plan on self-development; and closely supervise their performance, planning and prioritisation to guide them along the appropriate path.

When following these “ten things” consistently:

  • Teams know what they should be doing and how they should do it.
  • Leaders become immediately supportive, enthusiastic, and deeply involved.
  • Organisation and business unit goals become achievable, creating a state of calm focus.
  • Hard work delivers performance (outcomes, revenue increases and staff retention), leading to a real feeling of tangible progress within the team.

Go well!

Written and first published for the Institute of Employability Professionals.

Imagine if your employer engagement team was at the top of their game every single day. What’s the key to realising this success? It’s the difference between managing and coaching your team. In our experience, consultants who receive coaching increase performance by 400% compared to their peers! And, not surprisingly, team member retention rates lift by 20%!

For many line managers tasked with leading an employer engagement team, learning the art of sales coaching can seem daunting. Very often, line managers are promoted on the back of being excellent job coaches. It is uncommon for managers to have directly engaged employers in prior roles. They therefore find it difficult to understand what success looks like.

For example, Prospert once met a line manager with an underperforming business development officer. Feeling powerless to improve their performance, the line manager eventually insisted on attending employer appointments with their officer. Only by direct observation did they realise why performance was so poor.
Despite these challenges, line managers have several tools available to improve their team’s employer engagement. Prospert offers these 10 things to know when coaching employer engagement teams.

1. Treat employer engagement as a separate discipline to working with customers

Employer engagement is not simply an ‘add on’ to job coaching. Consultants need to broker a complex sale between two very different customer types. They may need to overcome objections and deal with customer variability. They must visit employers on site and create solutions to solve their problems. Developing expertise in local industries is also helpful.

2. Deploy a simple employer engagement framework

Inevitably, your team often has a mix of business development skills and backgrounds. If they have external experience to employment services, they will look to you for coaching on how to apply this in a new industry context. Deploying a simple employer engagement roadmap will provide them with confidence and a ‘way’ of engaging employers to consistently follow. We recommend our Seven Step Sales Framework; however, your organisation may have their own ‘way’.

3. Speak a consistent employer engagement language

Create an externally facing culture with your language when discussing employer engagement. Use terms such as: face to face engagements per week; percentage of successful approaches; employer caseload; and placements per employer. Probe on whether employers are new or existing. Share the load on lead generation across the whole team, including visitors to your site.

4. Provide a practical sales toolkit

Provide your team with a simple sales toolkit comprising templates for sales planning, target identification, daily/weekly time management, employer and job profiling, and annual reviews. Share answers to common employer objections they are likely to face. Check their understanding of each tool’s purpose and follow up their use by asking for completed examples.

5. Recruit, develop and reward proactive consultants

Good business developers are extremely hard to attract to employment services. So, when you have one with high potential, you must constantly develop and reward their performance. Stick to your commitments to support and coach your team, enquire about their daily plans, conduct post appointment debriefs, regularly attend employer meetings and review sales outcomes. They will crave the attention! We encourage leaders to reserve time in your weekly diary to attend new business meetings – those who do really enjoy the experience and learn a great deal.

6. Induct new recruits in strategy, processes, and systems

Your employer engagement team must know where they sit in the bigger picture. Induction is the ideal time. They need to understand the sales strategy, how your processes or sales framework is applied, and the role of your organisation’s customer relationship management platform. We have met many confused consultants who were never properly inducted! Despite their high potential, they inevitably leave the organisation and impact your employment brand.

7. Create a reliable and pragmatic system for sales forecasting

It is almost impossible to achieve sales targets if you don’t know where you are going. In a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire Cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” replied the cat. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter which road you take.” Line managers must have a fair idea of how their team is going to achieve its sales target each month, quarter, half year, and full year. This requires understanding which employers are likely to deliver placements and when this will happen. Having no plan leads to stress and anxiety month in, month out!

8. Track progress at employer and consultant level

Effective monitoring is not micro-management. It is keeping abreast of how a team (or individual) is progressing against an agreed benchmark. Knowing what your people are up to and what they are trying to achieve negates the need for micro-management. If you know, you don’t need to keep asking them! Line managers need to be aware of how your team are performing (recent results), what they have currently in the mix (pipeline, work-in-progress, or funnel) and what they intend to do soon (pre-commitment).

9. Implement sales reporting to provide insights into performance

Your sales reporting must provide insights into your team’s actual versus potential performance, enabling you as their line manager to “Ask EVA”. EVA stands for “Effort versus Ability”. A team member high on effort and ability is an Asset whilst someone low on both is a potential “Liability”. Frequently, many team members will struggle with motivation and be running on “Auto Pilot” even though they have sales skills. Finally, your newer team members may “Struggle” with adapting their skills to employment services. Understanding where each team member sits in the EVA quadrant model is critical. Objectively determining where they sit is a matter of gathering enough evidence to make your judgement.

10. Delivering constructive, on-the-job sales coaching

  • A one size fits all approach to coaching is not recommended. As your team member may fit in any one of the four EVA quadrants, a different coaching style is needed for each.
  • With Assets, leaders need to consistently acknowledge their performance, allocate required resources; and challenge them to grow their sales skills with more complex activity.
  • With Auto Pilots, their motivation is influenced by internal and/or external factors (often you as their leader!); you need to set clear expectations, develop an agreed strategy to achieve them; and ensure you are not creating obstacles that prevent their productive efforts.
  • With Strugglers, adopt a coaching tyle, high on direction and support; pay close attention to their sales efforts; provide praise to build their confidence and encourage initiative; and undertake joint sales efforts – providing on the spot coaching and feedback after each employer engagement.
  • With Liabilities, provide significant direction, including informal performance counselling where appropriate; arrange for the consultant to undertake a joint sales call with an Asset, demonstrating how the sales process works and what success looks like; create a step-by-step plan on self-development; and closely supervise their performance, planning and prioritisation to guide them along the appropriate path.

When following these “ten things” consistently:

  • Teams know what they should be doing and how they should do it.
  • Leaders become immediately supportive, enthusiastic, and deeply involved.
  • Organisation and business unit goals become achievable, creating a state of calm focus.
  • Hard work delivers performance (outcomes, revenue increases and staff retention), leading to a real feeling of tangible progress within the team.

Go well!

Written and first published for the Institute of Employability Professionals.