What makes sales performance coaching truly successful? How can you assess sales performance coaching techniques?
If you sometimes feel there are no clear answers to these questions, you are not alone. After all, not many universities offer degrees specifically in on-the-ground selling techniques. This is because true sales talent is innate and cultivated through on-the-job experience, along with effective sales performance coaching.
Unfortunately, most Sales Managers believe that reporting numbers to senior leadership is their top priority.
To what extent does this type of data make any difference in sales reps reaching their goals? Almost none.
To be an effective sales coach, you will need to leave behind the obsession with forecasting and numbers management. Instead, focus on improving the skills your salespeople need to achieve those numbers.
8 Key Questions to Help You Assess Sales Performance Coaching
1. Are you regularly clarifying your organization’s purpose?
One of the single most effective things you can do in your sales performance coaching is clarify your organization’s purpose on a regular basis.
Make sure your sales team members know exactly what they should be doing and why they should be doing it.
First, lay out the vision of your organization for yourself by answering questions, such as:
- What does your company do best?
- Who needs what you do?
- Who is your target customer, and why?
2. Are you coaching or teaching your salespeople?
Coaching is very different from teaching. Teaching imparts knowledge and helps the student grasp it. Coaching, on the other hand, helps someone master this knowledge so they can effectively apply it.
Make sure you are not taking a more observational role in your sales performance coaching. Sales performance coaching is an active, continuous process that goes far beyond merely giving your sales reps instructions to follow.
3. Are you connecting the dots between sales actions, sales goals and business outcomes?
It is easier than you may think to lapse into “big picture” thinking during sales performance coaching. Sometimes, though, you need to zoom in on the detailed, practical pieces of what you need to accomplish.
To make this happen, remember that you cannot control the results of everything you implement with your sales reps. You can realistically only manage the actions your sales reps are undertaking. This means you need to make clear connections between sales actions and sales outcomes in your coaching.
If this seems a bit abstract, there is good news! When you skillfully manage your sales reps’ actions, it often results in achieving your own sales goals.
3. Are you dedicating enough time to coaching your sales team?
CSO Insights’ 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report revealed that 9.6 percent of Sales Managers spend more than two hours a week on coaching sales skills. However, 47.1 percent devoted just half an hour or less!
The appropriate amount of time spent on sales performance coaching will vary for each company. But you should start by assuming you are not already devoting enough time – it is a very safe bet. Make coaching a genuine priority in your schedule.
4. Does your sales coaching mostly involve asking, or telling?
It is a common misconception that effective coaching is all about telling your sales reps what they should be doing. It is not!
The best coaching is all about collaborating with your sales reps to understand any issues they are facing. From there, you should jointly arrive at an assessment of what is working and what is not as you create a plan of action.
Your sales performance coaching style should be full of questions to help the seller express these issues properly. From there, your constructive feedback can walk them through how to improve.
5. Are you relying on generic coaching models?
Simply put, a career in sales is incredibly unique! That means sales coaching is, too.
Cookie-cutter coaching models flounder in a sales-driven environment. They lack specificity and do not emphasize the sales behaviors that will have the greatest impact.
6. Do your sales coaching methods include spending too much time reviewing numbers?
It is tempting to dwell on what has already happened by running the numbers ad nauseum with your sales reps. Instead, switch out at least half of these conversations for early-stage pipeline strategy discussions.
Think about how often you and your colleagues ask these questions:
- When do you expect that deal to close?
- When will you have that contract?
- Has that order come in yet?
- Can I get a status update on that invoice?
The truth is, very little can actually be done to influence these late-stage deals. Make time to focus on earlier-stage deals instead. Your team members can think through where optimal value can be created in the sales cycle. They can direct their best resources and techniques toward those deals, instead.
Do not miss a powerful opportunity to improve sales performance by only focusing on these late-stage deals.
7. Does your hiring process result in sales reps who want to succeed?
Sales performance coaching is much easier when your sales candidates have the most critical personality trait needed for success: Drive. 80+ years of research shows that it is the most important factor for sales success.
Drive is that deep sense of passion and determination that makes top-producing salespeople relentless in their quest for success. They want to learn and they want to be coached, because they are determined to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Identifying Drive prior to the interview allows you to spend your time on only high-potential candidates.
>> Discover how to zero in on Drive before the interview begins, so you only spend time interviewing the candidates with the greatest potential. <<
8. Are you reinforcing positive outcomes?
Once your sales performance coaching leads to improvements in sales skills and behaviors, you will need to reinforce these changes.
Regular meetings are essential. Also, make sure to quickly point out any old habits that resurface. Otherwise, your salespeople may lapse back into old habits or become complacent.
Never forget this counter-intuitive truth: even positive change tends to feel uncomfortable at first. You will need to be alert and reinforce the positive changes your sales team members are making.
Sales Performance Coaching Is Worth Mastering
When done well, sales performance coaching replaces much of the counterproductive busy work that makes sales managers feel stuck.
When it comes to sales coaching, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, intentional focus combined with the right kinds of conversations with your sales representatives will dramatically improve results.