Editor's Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on September 16, 2020. Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography.
Think for a minute, not about training sales people, but about sales manager training.
The average sales rep is accountable for approximately $2M in revenue…
- We know where they’ve been
- We know how many customers & prospects with whom they’ve visited
- We can measure their effectiveness and performance
- We know what talents and skills lead to sales success
- We can accurately screen for those talents and skills
- We continually provide them skills development
- We provide and ask them to follow a process/method that leads to more predictable sales outcomes
- We train them to the process/method
- We track their compliance to the process/method
- They receive all sorts or recognition for attaining and exceeding their quota
The average sales manager is accountable for approximately $14M in revenue…
- We don’t know where they were last week, last month, last quarter
- We don’t know what % of their time is spent with top, bottom or middle performers
- We don’t know how much coaching they are doing
- We don’t know the quality of the coaching they are doing
- We don’t provide them a coaching process/method, so therefore we have nothing to track
- They receive little to no skills training, for organizations aren’t aware of what drives performance
- They receive little to no recognition
In summary, the position that most impacts the performance of sales people - and we don’t know where they’ve been, what they are doing and if they are effective.
Lack of performance visibility in any role is not acceptable, especially one that controls so much revenue. And today, the only metric senior sales leaders have to gauge management success is whether or not a team sales goal was achieved. While not a poor indicator, it is an outcome that does not show the “why”, the “what” and the “how”; without which, replicable, sustainable performance cannot be achieved.
Now that the problem has been stated, here is the start to a solution:
1) Identify what drives performance of teams.
EcSell research has identified the following themes make up high performing sales coaches:
- Catalytic Factor
2) Understand the activities and tools that most strongly correlate with the above coaching themes.
Said another way—what is it that managers do/don’t do that can obtain the most “discretionary effort” from their team:
- Hold weekly 1:1 meetings with their sales reps
- Do career development planning with each
- Provide written coaching feedback that evaluates a rep’s skills against your sales process/methodology
- Require reps to provide managers a “pre-call plan” prior to any joint work
- Hold weekly team meetings and quarterly retreats
- Hold skills training for your reps a minimum of monthly
For more measurable, high-growth coaching activities, check out The Coaching Effect book.
3) Train and put in processes for your managers on the above.
A powerful training, tailored to your measurement results, will educate your leaders on the research and science of high-performing coaches. Managers will also learn about the high-payoff coaching activities, key coaching drivers, and details a week/ month/quarter/year in the life of a high performing sales coach.
4) Track to make sure the above is occurring.
The premise behind this solution is simple – better and more consistent coaching leads to better sales results. This is why a tracking technology should be focused squarely on driving the execution of coaching activities between leaders and their team members. It should provide an easy way for front-line leaders to execute their coaching while providing senior leaders real-time insight into the effectiveness of their front-line leaders' coaching quality and frequency.
5) Measure coaching effectiveness by surveying your sales producers.
By assessing a manager’s coaching quality and frequency, and then relating those results to team performance, you will finally understand how and why some of your managers are succeeding and some are not. Whatever survey or assessment you use, make sure this is the type of data you receive:
- Manager-specific data with comparison benchmarks to your company overall, as well as other organizations
- Areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in your managers’ coaching effectiveness
- Improvement recommendations to create strategies for the growth and development of your managers
This can be accomplished through The Coaching Effect Survey.
Actually, it doesn’t sound overly complicated, but based on our work with sales leaders from throughout the world, the most significant success factor is whether or not the senior sales leader buys-in and holds his/her team accountable for coaching execution. Without this commitment performance increases are minimized resulting in little organic sales growth.
All sales leaders have a call to action: make coaching a priority. Understand why coaching is critical, understand the role of the coach and make sure effective coaching occurs. To get more in-depth information about how sales coaching impacts sales team performance, check out this white paper: