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Leveraging Data in Your Sales Coaching Efforts

Leveraging Data in Your Sales Coaching Efforts

All sales organizations rely on data. Every effort is tracked and measured to gauge performance. From the number of calls reps make to the number of leads in your sales funnel to the number of deals closed, data helps sales leaders know which of their initiatives are working and which are falling behind. In addition to this, however, the data your organization accumulates can be play an important role in sales coaching. More than mere numbers on a spreadsheet or in a CRM, the data can be leveraged to identify specific coaching opportunities and allow managers to target a rep’s weaknesses to turn them into strengths. Following, we list three buckets of KPIs: Leading and Lagging, along with a third grouping that considers progress between coaching sessions. In each bucket, we will explain what they mean, what a manager can learn, and most of all, how they can leverage the data for coaching:

Leading KPIs

There are a number of activity KPIs that can be tracked and measured against team and historical performance. These show how active or busy a sales rep is during their day and can inform a manager of the rep’s drive, motivation, and desire to chase clients and their eagerness and determination to produce results. A best practice is to have these activities log in your CRM through plugins with your email application, phone dialer software, and/or your LinkedIn Sales Navigator plugin to your CRM.

Mostly, disappointing leading KPIs have two origins: either a sales rep does not yet have the skills or knowledge to effectively do their job, or they lack motivation. The manager’s first task is to determine which is the case. Obviously, the first scenario can be tracked with coaching, but the second scenario can be trickier to identify and rectify. Are personal issues negatively affecting performance? Does the sales rep see his or her job as a mere job and not a career? Once the manager identifies the problem they are dealing with, targeted coaching can be applied, such as how to use the auto dialer, how to craft better emails, or how to deliver more engaging presentations.

Examples of Leading KPIs:

  • Number of calls made
  • Number of emails sent
  • Lead-to-Opportunity conversion

Lagging KPIs

Here are the outcome KPIs that need to be tracked. If the above KPIs improve, in theory, the lagging KPIs should as well because they are directly tied to the performance metrics of the sales rep. Lagging KPIs don’t tell the whole story, which is why a sales manager should not solely rely on them. For example, if total sales are down, there could be countless reasons for this, but if the sales manager looks at the leading KPIs, there is a good chance he or she will spot the areas that lead to the decline and the data trends that reveal where the sales rep is struggling. For example, the rep may be good at building rapport but less effective in moving the opportunity forward to a close. Perhaps they are not assertive, or their time to close is greater than their peers’. Nevertheless, lagging KPIs are important and should be shared with the rep as well as benchmarked with peers and quarterly/annual goals that were discussed at the beginning of the year.

Examples of Lagging KPIs would include:

  • Number of deals won and lost
  • $ of deals won
  • Average size of deals won
  • Average length of sales cycle

Measuring Individual Progress between coaching sessions

Don’t forget to gauge improvement by analyzing leading and lagging KPIs on a more minute scale, for example between sales coaching sessions. “Progress KPIs,” for lack of a better term, can include leading and lagging indicators that do not measure total performance outcomes at the end of the quarter or year but, instead, take into account underperforming reps who are now steadily improving due to experience or sales coaching. As mentioned above, the sales manager could measure improvement between coaching sessions or look at monthly improvement over the course of half a year. Measuring this data can be a confidence boost for both rep and manager. From there, managers can single out areas that need further improvement. This is a good opportunity to recognize sales reps who aren’t typically noticed as top performers but are on their way to joining this exclusive group.

While some sales managers love analyzing data, others may feel like number crunchers. They prefer the human element of managing, building up their sales teams to be the best they can be. Regardless of which you are, there is no denying the importance of data to gauge the performance of individual reps in meeting the organization’s goals. The most effective sales leaders know how to leverage the data to boost their sales coaching efforts. In this way, all those numbers you crunch can seem to leap off the screen and have a positive effect on the people who drive your sales efforts. For more on being an effective sales manager, see our white paper How to be a High-Performing Sales Leader in Today’s Marketplace.