In today’s Sales Insight blog post, I would like to offer you my most effective sales team coaching tips.
When I’m talking to sales managers and their organisations, I see three issues that crop up repeatedly:
Firstly, it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain sales talent.
Secondly, managers are not supporting their team enough in their own development.
Thirdly, and largely as a result of the first two, organisations and individuals are missing out on sales opportunities.
Effective coaching of your sales people addresses these issues and leads to more positive outcomes and there is a huge body of evidence in support of this. The Sales Executive Council, for example, have reported that where teams are coached for over three hours per month by their sales managers, they typically achieve 107% of their target. For those receiving less than two hours a month, they typically miss their targets by 10%. If we quantify the financial difference between our people underachieving by 10% and overachieving by 7%, the value of coaching becomes very clear.
In addition to target achievement and, from my own personal research and experience, I’ve found that coaching impacts sales people positively in a number of ways:
- Ability to achieve their goals
- Positive self talk
- Self efficacy
- Self belief
- Leaning outcomes
The key drivers to successful coaching
An additional piece of research by the Sales Executive Council highlighted some key factors which drive the effectiveness of sales management coaching:
Manager Quality – the better the quality of coaching delivered by the manager, the better the outcomes.
Sales Activities Prioritised – being sure the coaching focuses on specific sales activities where the individual has areas of concern.
Time Spent Coaching – it seems that the three hour per month rule of thumb is the optimal amount, yet it never fails to surprise me how little coaching actually goes on by many sales managers within organisations.
Coaching Style – being able to adapt your style to the individual being coached.
Sales Person Attitude – the attitude of the sales team members themselves; those who are more open to being coached see better outcomes than those who are a little bit closed or anti-coaching.
Aim for evidence based coaching
The other thing that I would encourage is making sure the coaching you’re doing is evidenced based. By that, I mean you are able to observe your sales team in action wherever possible and see their engagements with their customers.
We did some work recently with a pharmaceutical organisation, looking at some of the team’s typical behaviours in front of the customer; such as whether they used questions to identify the customer’s situation and if they were gaining commitment from a customer to take an agreed course of action. When we looked at what the sales managers’ expectations were regarding how often their team were doing these things, versus what was actually happening, we saw a significant reduction in observable incidences. In other words, reality did not meet expectation.
So it’s really important that we don’t make assumptions about what our sales people are doing in front of customers and that we actually get out and observe our teams in action. This puts us in a far more powerful position when it comes to coaching.
Your average performers are the engine of your sales team
The other key area I would suggest is making sure that you’re focusing on the right people. In any team, there will be some lower performers, some average performers and some high performers, yet it is likely that your average performing group are actually the main engine of your entire team’s performance.
If we can focus more of our coaching time on this category, then we shift them away from the low performers, meaning that those who aren’t performing well have a stark choice to make about whether they want to change what they’re doing and / or move on.
It is worth noting here that we do also want to coach our high performers, to stretch them in order to realise their own individual potential.
If you’d like to have a chat about this topic in more detail then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Found this post helpful? Take a look at the best practice for effective sales recruitment here.