Sales managers have a complicated role. While their main objective is to grow revenue, they’re often managing teams with a diversity of experience that requires them to be consummate managers of people as well.

Coaching is a critical skill, but the obstacles to building and maintaining an effective coaching culture are significant, including lack of time (and to a certain extent lack of coaching skill). In this post we’ll review some suggestions for organizations looking to grow or recharge their coaching efforts.

Develop a clear line of sight between sales actions, sales goals, and business outcomes. 

Sales leaders spend a lot of their time looking at the “big picture, ” and are forced, by the nature of their roles, to focus on meeting goals set for the future. When coaching however, it often pays to focus on the smaller, more tactical elements of your reps’ daily tasks.

As much as you may want to manage the ultimate outcome, you can really only manage the individual actions that your sales reps are taking each day. By aligning discreet sales activities (prospecting calls, discovery questions, account mapping, etc.) with larger sales goals, however, the cause and effect relationship becomes clear.

As a result, if you effectively coach to help reps excel in their daily sales actions (i.e., making more sales calls to existing customers), that should naturally lead to the achievement of your bigger sales goals (increasing share of wallet with your current installed base). Doing this time and time again can ultimately help you realize your desired, “big picture” business objectives.

Make sure you’re focusing your coaching efforts on the “right” reps.

Left to their own devices, sales managers often focus their coaching efforts toward the extremes — the very best and the very worst performing reps on their team. Yet data from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a Qstream partner, shows that managers’ coaching tendencies are often misdirected.

In its research, CEB found that coaching had a marginal impact on either the weakest or the strongest performers in the sales organization. Instinct would tell you that time spent coaching the lowest performers would have a big pay-off, yet CEB found that the chronic underperformers (those in the bottom 10%) were not likely to improve, and in fact, were more likely to be a bad fit for the position altogether. Likewise, the best performers (the top 10%) showed almost no improvement attributable to coaching.

So where did good coaching have the most impact? The middle 60% of the sales force: your core performers. For this group, the best-quality coaching had the potential to improve performance by as much as 19%.* And for most companies, that’s the difference between hitting or missing your goals. For more on “Moving the Middle, ” check out Qstream’s popular eBook.

The Qstream Difference

Given the strong links to coaching and high-performing organizations, Qstream has been architected to deliver the insights managers require for smarter, more focused coaching. Our platform’s Predictive Insights Engine instantly analyzes thousands of data points from your team’s responses to deliver real-time dashboards that let managers quickly and easily see how their sales teams are performing. At the same time, the system pinpoints highly targeted coaching opportunities to help managers take action immediately.

Even the best sales managers can fall into a trap of trying to coach too many skills at once, or coaching the wrong skills altogether. With Qstream your sales managers not only know who needs coaching, but when to coach, and the specific skills that need to be addressed. No more guessing.

And remember: coaching is not just for reps. Managers at all levels can benefit from leadership development support that ensures they are equally fluent on critical material, and that they have the skills to be effective leaders. Qstream customers often pilot new sales challenges to managers first, before a training program begins, including scenarios that are unique to a manager’s specific role, product focus or business unit.

Is your organization looking to improve the quality or frequency of its sales coaching? We’d love to hear from you, and we welcome other practitioner tips on how to create an effective coaching culture.

*Harvard Business Review, “The Dirty Secret of Effective Sales Coaching.”

To learn more about Qstream's capabilities for sales coaching, including an intuitive graphical dashboard and onboard coaching tips, watch this short video now, or contact us today.

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