Whether to invest in B2B sales coaching should not be an issue. Today’s demanding business environment requires that client-facing salespeople be well equipped with knowledge and confidence. They are, after all, responsible for gauging sales opportunities, understanding client needs and driving purchase decisions. But now they must navigate through a transformed world of self-informed customers at remote locations negotiating for detached decision makers. This brave new world of B2B sales compels teams to improve how they are operating and closing deals in a more remote and digital environment.
B2B sales coaching priorities
Jeff Piper, senior director at Docusign, challenges sales management to recognize the New State of B2B Sales and to step up their coaching game using valuable new insight. Citing their white paper, The Evolution of B2B Sales, Piper reports that although sales revenue is the top KPI, quota attainment and profitability hold major sway in evaluating sales performance. However, managers may want to take note of the evolving priorities in B2B sales. For instance, customer experience and digital transformation both scored a mere 4% priority ranking in 2020. This year, customer experience came in at 40% and digital transformation scored 35%. More importantly, they are expected to increase to 67% and 60%, respectively, in the next five years. As managers plan their B2B sales coaching curriculum for the coming season, it will be important to understand today’s priorities.
Best B2B sales coaching practices
Successful B2B sales coaching must be individualized, consistent and focused on skills and techniques. Considering the priorities identified above, customer experience and a transformation to digital technology give framework to the coaching program. For managers who would like to begin or resume a coaching program, Rupal Bhandari offers a Refresher on Best Practices in a recent article for Gartner.com. After stressing the importance of a consistent program, Bhandari suggests a three-step process for effective sales coaching.
Step 1: Conduct a sales audit
This data-driven valuation identifies individual sales reps by performance metrics. Drawing data from the department’s CRM, managers can track, for instance, customer face time, call preparation time, new contracts, and pipeline opportunities. Consider also how a sales rep embraces technology and how they enrich the customer experience.
Step 2: Identify areas of improvement
A sales coach looks for strengths and opportunities. Sales volume, win-loss rates and average deal size are a good starting point. However, for B2B sales coaching to be effective, dig into the underlying metrics involving customer interaction and retention rates. Also, investigate internal interactions with each rep. Look for choke points of productivity with other departments and strive to eliminate friction. After thorough analysis of these metrics, a coach can establish a base for each rep to begin work on skills and techniques.
Step 3: Build a framework for development
Once you identify areas of improvement and prioritize them, you’ll need to work with each sales rep to make them better. The framework is flexible, evolving and informed by the metrics generated by each individual salesperson. The customer journey and the role of technology are important touchpoints. Customer retention and deal size may be areas of concern. It is important for all sellers to understand that B2B sales coaching is a two-way communication separate from sales training or software training.
In summary, the world of B2B sales has been altered by extenuating circumstances. New priorities of customer experience and the impact of digital transformation have disrupted the industry. Effective B2B sales coaching will ease the transition into this brave new world while maintaining long-term stability.
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