According to McKinsey & Company, just improving sales force performance can give organizations up to a 10% revenue boost. Effective coaching also drives a better customer experience – something identified at Dreamforce as a company’s biggest competitive differentiator. For both of these reasons, business executives need to pay attention to coaching.
However, because many managers are former sales people, they often don’t have the appropriate training. Leaders need to make sure that there is a coaching process in place – and that it includes the following four essential requirements.
Essential #1. Prioritize 1:1 Coaching Time
A coaching framework must include 1:1 coaching time between manager and rep. In their presentation at the recent Sales Summit, McKinsey & Company’s Lareina Yee and Maria Valdivieso said that sales managers should be spending over 50% of their time coaching. This makes coaching a huge part of a sales manager’s job.
You need to make individual rep coaching a clear requirement for sales managers from the start. Additionally, managers need to understand that sessions should be used to impact and improve rep behaviors – not merely reviewing account status or what reps did wrong. The experts advise that managers need to coach the practice, not the result.
Essential #2. Personalize Rep by Rep
According to the Sales Management Association, 25% of managers don’t coach their sales teams. Yet, reps say they want more coaching – and they want it personalized to their particular requirements.
Time is precious in sales. By supporting reps with the right technology – such as self-assessment tools – managers will understand the areas that will provide the most value to each rep. One rep may not be at the right activity level for success, whereas another might need help on messaging. Additionally, there are different coaching requirements based on experience level – for example, a millennial versus a seasoned rep. Self-diagnosis of their individual needs is the crucial first step.
Essential #3. Focus on the Frozen Middle
When coaching, managers often too much time on the top or bottom performers – whereas coaching has been found to have the biggest gains with the middle performers. Moving the middle – which represents the bulk of sales reps – will move your sales needle the most. Help managers gain understanding into what the top performers do differently, so they can share those behaviors with the middle performers and have the biggest effect on your sales.
Essential #4. Monitor Performance
We live in a digital world. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to embrace all available resources. Coaching software that leverages analytics gives you critical insights to monitor and improve performance. Quickly compare how your managers’ coaching techniques are tracking with rep performance. Are they having an impact? What methods are most effective? By seeing where performance falls short—through analytics – managers can act as performance consultants, giving reps the counsel that they need to succeed. This can range from the right content to new learning opportunities to performance support tools or instructor led training.
Coaching has the biggest impact on your sales organization’s performance – making it vital to your business – but you need to understand what you need to coach to make a difference.
By establishing prescribed processes and a solid coaching framework, you make it easier for your managers to drive more consistent behaviors across the team. With better onboarding and coaching to optimize processes, organizations can sell more – faster.
Micheline Nijmeh is CMO at Xactly Corporation, a leading provider of enterprise-class, cloud-based, incentive compensation for employee and sales performance management. Xactly’s products allow organizations to make strategic decisions, increase employee performance, improve margins, and mitigate risks.