According to McKinsey & Company, just improving sales force performance can give organizations up to a 10% revenue boost. Effective sales coaching also drives a better customer experience—something that was identified at Dreamforce as a company’s biggest competitive differentiator.
For both of these reasons, business executives need to pay special attention to sales rep training. Leaders need to make sure that there is a coaching process in place— and that it includes the following four essential requirements.
Essential #1: Prioritize 1:1 Sales Coaching Time
A coaching framework must include 1:1 coaching time between a manager and rep. At a recent Sales Summit, McKinsey & Company’s Lareina Yee and Maria Valdivieso said that sales managers should be spending over 50% of their time coaching reps.
This makes coaching a huge part of a sales manager’s job. You need to make individual rep coaching a clear requirement for sales managers from the start. Additionally, managers need to understand that sessions should be used to impact and improve rep behaviors–instead of merely reviewing account status or discussing what reps did wrong. The experts advise that managers need to coach the practice not the result.
Essential #2: Personalize by Rep
According to the Sales Management Association, 25% of managers don’t coach their sales teams. Yet, reps say they want more coaching and they want it personalized to their particular requirements. Time is precious in sales. By supporting reps with the right technology–such as self-assessment tools–managers will understand the areas that will provide the most value to each rep.
One rep may not be at the right activity level for success, whereas another might need help on messaging. Additionally, there are different coaching requirements based on experience level–for example, a millennial versus a seasoned rep. Self-diagnosis of their individual needs is the crucial first step.
Essential #3: Focus on the Frozen Middle
When coaching, managers often spend too much time on the top or bottom performers–whereas coaching has been found to have the biggest gains with the middle performers. Moving focus to the middle, (which represents the bulk of sales reps), will move your sales needle the most. Help managers gain insight into what top performers do differently, so they can share those behaviors with the middle performers and have a bigger effect on your sales. Understanding behavioral patterns that develop within a rep's tenure is imperative to providing him or her appropriate coaching.
Essential #4: Monitor Performance, Continuously
To stay ahead of the competition, you need to embrace all available resources. Sales coaching software that leverages analytics gives you critical insights to monitor and improve performance. Quickly compare how your managers’ coaching techniques are tracking with rep performance. Are they having an impact? What methods are most effective?
By seeing where performance falls short (through analytics) managers can act as performance consultants, giving reps the counsel that they need to succeed. This can range from providing the right content or new learning opportunities to implementing performance support tools or instructor-led training. Coaching has the biggest impact on your sales organization’s performance—making it absolutely vital to your business.
By establishing prescribed processes and a solid coaching framework, you can make it easier for your managers to drive more consistent behaviors across the team. With better onboarding and coaching developed to optimize processes, an organization can build a stronger, more effective sales team.