Sales Coaching Guide for Sales Managers
- by Elay Cohen
- December 14, 2017
- Sales Coaching
SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform
Sales Coaching Guide for Sales Managers
What Is Sales Coaching?
Effective sales coaching creates space for collaborative professional development conversations. Effective sales coaches give sales professionals the responsibility of ownership and accountability of their deal strategies from planning to preparation to close.
According to CSO Insights, “Sales coaching is a leadership skill that develops each salesperson’s full potential. Sales managers use their domain expertise, along with social, communication, and questioning skills to facilitate conversations with their team members that allow them to discover areas for improvement and possibilities to break through to new levels of success.”
Barry Rhein, founder of Selling Through Curiosity and Coaching Through Curiosity, poses a thoughtful question: “What are the ways we can tweak our thinking and skills to create greatness in our reps?” Managers are well-intentioned and most have great intuition. They become effective sales coaches by asking better questions. Our goal is to help sales managers learn to develop their people by asking open-ended questions about activity, data, and process to change their mindsets, behaviors, and outcomes.
In contrast, ineffective sales coaching happens by micro-managing people, asking them closed-ended questions, not creating a space for a coaching conversation, and not holding them accountable to follow the process. Sales management and sales coaching professionals spend too much time and resources coaching top reps, who don’t need the coaching. Our bottom reps are likely not a good fit, and aren’t worth the time investment to coach them. To achieve the highest ROI, we should focus our coaching on the middle performers and according to ExecVision on Building a Coaching Culture.
Sales Coaching Statistics and Data Trends
There is general belief that better sales coaching will result in more revenue. When we start working with companies, the common problem we’re being asked to solve is quota attainment. It’s amazing how many sales professionals are not hitting their revenue goals. According to the SaaS Incentive Compensation Benchmark Report, 79 percent of sales representatives miss quota, and 14% never achieve even 10% of quota (SaaS Incentive Compensation Benchmark Report, click for article). Across the entire SaaS data set, the average quota attainment is 58%.
These figures raise questions. Why aren’t companies doing more sales coaching? What are they doing to help increase the number of salespeople who hit quota?
We conducted an analysis with our customers correlating sales coaching activity and sales performance. We assessed one hundred sales managers and correlated the quantity and quality of coaching activities to their attainment data. The data proved that managers who initiate and execute more sales coaching activities on a monthly basis generate more pipeline and have higher sales attainment. The data also demonstrated that watching a video and taking a test is not enough to see a revenue uplift. The reps and managers need to practice and give each other feedback. They learn by doing, and they improve their results by applying sales coaching to real-life deals.
The dataset from SalesHood customers including two thousand sales managers, and fifteen thousand salespeople saw the following results with sales coaching:
These statistics make sense and are expected. Effective sales coaching results in more revenue.
A report conducted by Scott Edinger highlighted the gap between what managers think of their coaching and what their teams think of their coaching. “Leaders reported that they spent a considerable amount of time coaching their direct reports and scored themselves high on their efforts—on average, just shy of the 80th percentile. Direct reports responded by saying that they’d received little to no coaching from their leaders and scored them low—on average around just the 38th percentile. (Scott Edinger, Harvard Business Review, May 2015, click for article )”
Why Is Sales Coaching Hard for Sales Managers?
Many frontline managers struggle with coaching and developing their teams even though they are past top performers. Why?
Great managers invest time to review their team’s work. Great managers share real-time constructive feedback. Great managers use one-on-ones (1:1), deal reviews, and team huddles to accelerate coaching moments.
What Are Some Examples of Sales Coaching Questions?
The best sales coaching technique is for managers to ask reps different types of open-ended questions. Thank you to Barry Rhein for the inspiration to always be curious and for the insight to help our managers be curious when they coach and develop their teams.
Open-ended layering and probing sales coaching questions:
You can learn more about Selling Through Curiosity and Coaching Through Curiosity from Barry Rhein. Click here.
There are other sales coaching techniques and tactics we observe in successful sales managers who use SalesHood every day to coach and develop their teams.
Evaluating Your Coaching Efforts
This guide will help you evaluate the frequency, quality, and impact of coaching activity performed. How are you doing against these coaching best practices?
Sales Coaching Takeaways
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