Coaching for Sales Performance

BY C. Lee Smith
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Coaching for sales performance is a hot topic. In your organization, B2B sales coaching may be necessary to optimize outcomes. If you’re a new sales manager, you know exactly how you would adapt to successfully make your goals this year. Managing reps to improve their sales performance is a completely different ballgame.

Use Coaching Time Efficiently

Given the belt tightening that’s been taking place at many organizations since the start of the pandemic, leaders aren’t inclined to invest in another tool for their sales reps. What organizational leaders might not understand is that the ROI delivered by a sales coaching solution can far exceed the cost of the original investment. “According to a recent study by Knowledge Tree, sales representatives receiving at least three hours of coaching per month exceed their selling goals by 7%, increase revenue by 25%, and increase close rate by 70%!” says Toma Kulbyte. To achieve these kinds of results, sales managers must buy into the right sales coaching system for their reps.

According to our Voice of the Sales Manager Survey, 41% of managers always spend some amount of their one-​on-​one coaching time on product training. Is this the most efficient use of your precious time? We don’t think so. Product training can be effectively delivered in a one-​to-​many setting.

Similarly, around 41% of all coaching sessions involve managers reviewing the pipeline with their rep. This is another potential waste of valuable coaching time. Unless you are coaching your rep on how to handle specific problems in their pipeline, a standard review can easily be handled in a team meeting or through an email exchange.

Question: What should be discussed during a coaching session?

Answer: The development of skills needed to improve sales performance.

Coaching for Sales Performance

If you’ve given your team members a sales skills assessment, you’ll know about their weaknesses. When these weaknesses are cataloged in a sales coaching system, the system will automatically generate personalized assignments. And these assignments will be optimized to coach for sales performance.

Coaching is different than training. Research from the Sales Management Association indicates that 47% of managers don’t know how to coach. As a new sales manager, you may assume everyone can benefit from coaching on discovery. If you have a couple of discovery stars on your team, they won’t need help on that sales skill.

But if these same reps spend so much time on discovery that they never lead prospects to the next step in the sales process, you have a logjam. You can fix that problem encouraging them to access microcoaching feeds from our automated coaching system. These feeds are designed to help reps improve a skill, such as building trust with a prospect. In two or three minutes, your reps can review content and answer questions that will help them think about what they should be doing differently to improve their sales performance.

Ask Instead of Tell

Sales coaching shouldn’t involve the manager always telling the rep what to work on. Why? Because reps aren’t always motivated by what their manager says. If a rep’s sales skills assessment results indicate they’re highly motivated by the opportunity to be original, give them flexibility when they are working on a presentation. Some reps have a higher need for control than others. Encourage them to engage with the sales coaching system to help them improve what they want to work on. 

Speak Their Language

In any environment, people don’t always remember every detail they hear. In a one-​on-​one coaching session, knowledge retention won’t be perfect either. As a manager, you can improve what your rep brings away from the session by communicating in the way that works best for them. Some of your reps may need to take notes during your session. When you’re coaching for sales performance, some reps will need you to follow up your suggestions with an email. And, remember to listen.

You’re rushed for time. All sales managers are. But to truly help some of your reps, you’ll need to listen with the intent to understand.

Your organization and your sales reps need your help. When you commit to coaching for sales performance, and to using a best-​in-​class sales coaching system, you can make a difference.