Like all aspects of selling, sales coaching has undergone changes. In the early days, coaching was, at best, random. Managers provided feedback on an as-needed basis, pointing out tips or tricks to address specific issues or problems. From there, as organizations realized the value of coaching, managers adopted an informal approach, in which coaching guidelines were established but not formalized. Today, top sales organizations utilize dynamic coaching, which aligns a regularly occurring, formalized coaching process within an organization’s sales enablement program. This requires the development of a coaching culture in which all players, from reps to managers and even the C-suite, are aligned in understanding the value of coaching and how it is implemented. To achieve the best results, here are tips managers should utilize in coaching against a defined methodology:
- Follow a Plan
Managers should coach their teams by following a playbook with set activities for both managers and reps. This allows for uniformity throughout the organization’s coaching initiatives and ensures that all team members receive the attention they need. In addition, as all reps are not always proficient in the same areas, managers should customize their coaching to address the unique coaching opportunities of their reps. While one may need additional support with lead generation, another may need coaching to uncover a client’s unarticulated desires. Also, having a structured coaching methodology allows managers to closely follow a rep’s trajectory to reach the organization’s goals.
- One-on-One Meetings
Regularly occurring meetings between reps and managers are essential. These can be informal discussions, but they should take place at regular intervals to give both managers and reps time to prepare. Managers can utilize this time to ask questions, gauge the rep’s motivation level, and provide an open forum to discuss problems and issues. In addition, managers should come prepared with specific benchmarks and use the meeting to gauge progress toward quota and KPIs. In the age of remote work, managers should also ascertain how reps have adjusted to virtual selling, check in on their well-being, and offer additional support to make the rep’s job easier.
- Team Meetings
In addition to one-on-one meetings, a well-defined coaching methodology should feature regular team meetings. Managers should take advantage of having the entire team’s attention by sharing news on clients, product roll outs, and company updates as well as discussing the team’s large and small wins. Encourage team members to participate and share their own client interactions–the good and the bad–and the lessons they have learned. In addition, managers can use these meetings to introduce role-play activities the reps can practice, discuss areas of improvement that the whole team needs to be cognizant of, share essential metrics, and place these in context of individual performance and expectations while also offering support and encouragement.
- Assess and Evaluate Performance
These days, an organization’s coaching initiatives must include data from their CRM. When assessing and evaluating performance, managers must share their KPIs to show their reps how their progress compares to previous months or years as well as in relation to their current goals. In addition, reps should see how their individual performance compares to their team members. While healthy competition can be motivating, in coaching, managers should focus on sharing insights between the team.
- Coaching Career Development
This is an important aspect of sales coaching that does not get the attention it deserves. These days, as the sales world continues to change, evolve, and grow, there is a real need for managers to coach beyond the specific skills, such as prospecting, discovery, and presentations, that make successful salespeople. In addition to these, reps can benefit from hearing how their unique personalities and developing expertise can be leveraged in their sales efforts and how building upon these strengths and attributes can benefit them long-term. Beyond future considerations, for both the rep and your organization, this can have an immediate effect helping the rep see the totality of the sales environment and aid problem solving and decision making.
These days, most organizations understand the value of sales coaching. However, with the rise of remote work and virtual interaction, a defined coaching methodology is essential to ensuring all players are aligned in pursuit of the organization’s goals. For remote sales reps, structure is a key part in understanding the expectations of their managers and the organization. In addition to mastering skills, regular meetings and evaluation are vital for fostering a sense of community when we can no longer interact or share a laugh in the break room. For sales leaders, this often means not only coaching the skills reps need to boost performance but also reinforcing a team-first mentality that unites and motivates remote reps to continually perform at their highest level. For more on being an effective sales leader, download our white paper How to be a High-Performing Sales Leader in Today’s Marketplace.