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Who Does Sales Coaching Help Most?

If you are a sales manager, VP of sales, or another leader of a sales team striving for high performance and to exceed your organization’s revenue expectations…this entry is for you.

Let’s start by emphasizing the value of sales coaching. Many managers struggle with determining the most appropriate coaching approach for their team and, consequently, they never implement a consistent coaching process. This could be due, in part, to the bevy of constraints imposed on a manager’s schedule – with daily meetings, calls, interviews and reports, there isn’t much time left.

But you have to make time.

Sales coaching could be the difference between stressing about how to make this month’s quota and running a team that consistently achieves success and reaps the rewards of a highly effective and driven sales organization.

So, how do you begin?

First, you need to decide where to devote your coaching efforts. We’ll help you with this one: According to data collected by the Corporate Executive Board, focusing coaching efforts on the core middle 60 percent of the sales force is the best way to improve your profits.

Why?

Your top performers require little in the way of coaching. They are making the sales, surpassing quota, and are setting the bar for the rest of the team. And those reps at the bottom, your lesser performers, should receive less of your energy.

The middle 60%, or the “Steady Eddies,” is where you will have the greatest impact, and where your efforts and energy will have the best return. Think about it: if you get a 10% higher performance from each sales rep in this group every month, how significantly will that improve the overall performance of your team? Every month? For the quarter and year? It is with this group that you stand the strongest chance to move the needle in terms of your team’s sales performance.

What does a typical coaching session look like?

Start by having your proof points prepared and have in mind the desired outcome of your coaching session. Your data should be objective to validate your proposed course correction or suggested changes for that rep. This includes call metrics for inside sales reps such as number of calls, average talk time, and calls per sale. For the outside field rep you should be observing him or her during a ride-along or customer demo or if that isn’t possible to do consistently based on logistics, a debrief works as well. Ask yourself questions such as, “Is the rep prepared for the sales call? Are they asking the right questions and eliciting an appropriate and though-out response?”

Part of the coaching process should include a debrief after each ride-along visit or listening in on a phone call to provide real-time coaching and feedback. Beyond this, you should be ready to discuss the key performance indicators (KPI’s) such as sales per week, average sale amount, percentage of quota month to date, and a run-though of the prospects in the rep’s pipeline.

Resolve to stay objective.

As a reminder, make sure that your comments and suggestions during the coaching session are behavior-based, and not subjective. Your feedback should be direct and specific, never vague. Style and technique are appropriate subjects, but attitude and effort discussions are more challenging and typically will not end with the results you desire from your coaching efforts.

Follow up.

At the conclusion of your coaching session, you should have a set of agreed-upon action items or goals to be completed or to be implemented before your next coaching session. These next steps must be “SMART”— specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. To help them achieve a higher sales performance, it is critical to be hands-on and to follow up on the items discussed in the coaching session.

Your goal should be to breed an environment and culture where coaching is welcome and desired, not feared. This type of environment will create a team of high-performers and support you in achieving your desired sales results.

Want to dive deeper? Keep reading…