Recently we introduced our sales coaching cloud technology known as ONE-UP. This technology was developed solely as a tool for our members when, as with so many solutions, there came a total moment of clarity created by need. While in conversation with a member who is an EVP, and asked what percent of time his managers spent in coaching, and focusing on high pay off activities, his response was “ I simply don’t know.” But he continued, “While I would like to think that my managers are spending the majority of their time doing the things that will make the difference and move the needle for their teams, literally I cannot tell you.” This was eye opening for us, because while we teach and train that nothing impacts performance more than coaching, and we know the activities and behaviors that need to happen to increase sales, we had not given them an easy way to measure that.
Most sales and service organizations have invested more time and effort in the past 5 years in improving the managers coaching of reps than they have in the previous 50 according to Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of Sales Executive Council, which makes perfect sense, because their research shows that no other productivity investment comes close to coaching in improving the reps performance.
Left to their own devices however, sales managers often skew their coaching efforts dramatically toward opposite ends of the spectrum, the very best and the very worst reps on their team. They engage with poor reps out of necessity in order to meet territory goals, and they work with their best reps because, well, it’s fun. And according to Dixon and Adamson and their research the real gains to be made are in the middle 60 percent, the core performers. They go on to say that even with world class coaching, the worst don’t get better but neither do top performers.
While that is interesting, it would seem that it misses the point entirely. The point here, is not as a manager, whether you spend time with laggards or leaders or even your core group of producers. The point is, how do you know in any given group just how effective you are as a coach? If you agree that the single most important thing to increase sales performance is the manager, do you know what “world class coaching even is?” Are you able to tell with a quick glance daily, whether you are executing effectively across the high pay off activities that make a difference in sales team performance? Or do you know what you are executing at all? Can you tell in your coaching process where you spend the most time with your reps and what is the most effective or what needs the most work? Can you look at data quickly that spells out you have in fact taken over the interview when working joint calls with your rep when they clearly indicated they wanted you to be an observer?
Unfortunately, it’s pretty likely that you aren’t measuring the things that you precisely need to coach to. But take heart because no one else is either. The problem lies first in defining what good coaching is, then determining how to best execute that definition. And it’s important to keep score, because if you can’t measure, track and analyze your results, how will you ever know where the success story or failure lies? This then, became the entry point for our sales coaching cloud technology that allows our members and now channel partners to recognize what great coaching is and to use the cloud to finely tune their coaching strategy. From the basics of blocking and tackling in your coaching conversations to a very customized coaching program with each individual on your team, the overlying premise is the same, sales performance begins with the manager not the rep.
“Manager metrics” will not make you a better coach. Reviewing the pipeline with your people and rehashing wins or losses while important, won’t make you one either. It is the ability to track and measure the nuances of what coaching is not only to your team but to YOU, that ultimately will.
Next week: Stay tuned to a series of posts full of tips and strategies related to sales coaching cloud technology and how you can finally successfully weave coaching into the fabric of your culture.