With an established feedback loop, scalable areas of evaluation, and commitment from frontline sales managers and executives alike, sales coaching can drive incremental revenue and help to scale a selling organization. Approaching sales coaching from a data-driven perspective is the key to ensuring that sales coaching not only becomes ingrained in developing a selling culture, but also is scalable for future growth.
Consider a world where skills and competencies are well-established by an organization and are associated with a scaling mechanism, so that everyone is universally aligned to the idea that a “5” is an exceptional performer and a “1” is a performer who needs improvement. Imagine what can happen when both the manager and seller rank the seller on each competency, combine it with performance data, and drive to an average, cumulative score that can be tracked over time to identify trends not only for the individual, but for the team as well. Magical, right? Let’s dive in to uncover what can happen when these puzzle pieces fall into place.
In order to ensure that coaching for sales performance is effective, there are four questions that every sales organization needs to consider
1. How will we scale this?
Build your sales coaching around an established set of competencies. Practitioners should be partnering 1:1 with their frontline managers to identify and gut-check the skills that a manager should be coaching.
Also, be sure to consider what your feedback loop will look like. Ask yourself the following questions: How will this information be returned to enablement or HR in a way that will help us scale for future runs? How will you quickly enable new leaders and new sellers on the approach and philosophy as you onboard new people?
2. What will we do with the data?
Any productive initiative has leading and lagging indicators with it. Identify which data points are important to the team and how often they need to be measured. For us at Lessonly, we have a standard quarterly assessment process, sprinkled with mini-individual sales coaching sessions throughout the quarter (think about feedback on a call, for example, or reviewing some customer feedback that came in via a support channel). In these one on one sales coaching conversations, we are able to help our team uncover that critical “just in time” feedback to help them immediately improve their performance, instead of waiting for the next quarter’s conversation.
Each manager and each seller also complete an assessment, which is combined with performance data. To have a well-rounded assessment and to create an environment of transparent communication, we find that having a 360 degree view of a seller helps to better identify gaps and areas of improvement. From there, the enablement team takes a holistic view of the data and essentially takes an NPS score for each competency to identify the areas where we are strong and where we are weak. This, in turn, helps to inform our enablement programs and quarterly objectives.
3. What is the commitment from leadership?
Executive leadership should be fully aligned with the enablement team to drive a top-down approach when it comes to sales coaching. C-Suite and other senior leadership positions should be kept apprised of high-level data findings and other trends so that they can keep a pulse on what’s happening in their revenue-generating space.
Front-line managers are the workhorses of the sales coaching initiatives, as they are the ones who need to deliver the coaching en masse and circulate the results back to the enablement or HR teams. With a scalable method, this isn’t as scary as it sounds. The first assessment will always be the most difficult – practitioners should be sensitive to the time of the quarter that they ask the manager and their team to conduct assessments. End-of-month and end-of-quarter are not typically the best time to ask for these commitments!
Bonus: if necessary, create a sales coaching certification that certifies your managers on the art of sales coaching techniques. Equip them with a sales manager coaching guide to help them better coach their people. You may find some managers on your team grateful for the extra professional skills and the insight into sales coaching best practices.
4. How will we tie sales training curriculum to data?
With the approach outlined above, practitioners can easily identify gaps in the sales training programs and processes. For example, if the quarterly assessment shows that the entire team is struggling with objection handling (as evidenced by the aggregate score across the team), the enablement practitioner should look at that data and design an objection handling campaign in response, with practice sessions, certifications, and other sales training modules for the team to improve. In the next quarterly assessment, the practitioner can view the data and literally see how the needle moved. The key is having available content to deliver to the team at the right time—and in some cases, this may mean pivoting quickly as the assessment analysis is completed.
Top sales training programs have a strong element of sales training and sales coaching tied to it. The importance of sales coaching will continue to become more prevalent, and truly, it’s a differentiator for those organizations who can nail it and then scale it as they grow.
Better sales enablement starts with Lessonly 💛
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