Sales managers are perhaps the most time-pressed individuals on your team. So when it comes to coaching, it’s critical that they have the skills and data to optimize every moment with their reps. While the needs of your reps will vary from session to session, and potentially quarter to quarter, there are some consistent things effective sales managers do again and again to derive the most impact from their coaching time.
1. They understand the specific sales competencies and behaviors necessary for their reps to be successful.
Just as no two salespeople are alike, the same can be said for no two sales positions. Regardless of whether your rep is a new hire in his first sales role, or a more experienced professional who has been selling for a dozen years, there are dynamics that are unique to each industry, business segment and product or service offering. Understanding these dynamics, and the specific competencies required to navigate them successfully, is critical to effective coaching. You don’t simply want your reps to be better sales people, you want them to be more effective at selling your products and services.
2. They understand the unique skills and knowledge gaps of each of their team members.
Generic selling tips or techniques might work for some, but smart sales managers understand that each of their reps are individuals with specific strengths and weaknesses. Steve might be a terrific prospector with a strong early pipeline, but require additional help with negotiation and closing to consistently hit his quota. In contrast, Christine might possess a strong complement of selling skills, but lacks the market or technical knowledge to successfully win over customers. By focusing their valuable coaching time on the individual needs of each rep, supported by real-time performance data and analytics from solutions like Qstream, sales managers can maximize their coaching impact and help each rep progress along their own personal development path.
3. They consistently document the actions and follow-up steps required from each coaching conversation and hold their reps accountable.
The best coaching session in the world will simply be wasted if your reps don’t understand the expectations for follow-through, and if you, as their manager, don’t hold them accountable for progress and change. This can be as simple as a bulleted email that documents your agreed upon steps and can be reviewed during your next meeting together. The secret is to capture the notes quickly and accurately, and then set the expectations for follow-through and reporting.
Qstream’s Coaching Hub greatly simplifies this process by providing managers with a graphical coaching timeline for quick access to all coaching actions, needs and history (by team and individual rep), including a private notes area for quickly planning coaching conversations, recording feedback, or tracking agreed upon goals.
And keep in mind: one of the simplest ways to hold your reps accountable? Don’t leave a specific coaching session before setting up the next one, or just set a regular cadence with each rep, perhaps once every few weeks, and schedule them ahead for the whole year. This helps makes coaching a habit for both managers and reps, and delivers a message about its importance to the organization.
4. They ask a lot of questions.
One of the biggest mistakes sales managers (well, really any manager) can make is believing that they personally have all the answers. When a sales manager treats a coaching session as a “let me tell you” conversation, they miss the opportunity to help their reps develop a strong sense of self-awareness and independence. Asking good questions – whether it’s about a specific deal you’re trying to close this quarter, or a common business scenario your team is facing in the field – forces your reps to think critically about their own behavior and focus on the quality of their execution. Asking good questions also drives deeper engagement, and allows your reps to be an equal partner in their own growth and development.
5. They understand the underlying motivators of each individual seller and take action to maximize them.
Some sales leaders believe that a quota and a compensation plan are enough to motivate sellers to perform. Yet research has proven that for many sales people, it’s a little more complicated. People are motivated by any number of factors (not always money), and it’s the sales coach’s job to determine what that is from seller to seller.
- 93% of high performers said meaningful work was more important than compensation
- 82% of Millennials ranked access to leadership, meaningful work and company vision as equal to targeted earnings in importance
- 70% of high performers see coaching and collaboration as very important to their job performance
By tapping into both the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators for the individuals on their team, whether its financial incentives, team recognition or new development opportunities, coaches can help their sellers maintain high levels of focus, energy and enthusiasm to perform. Even better? It can drive equal performance improvement on your bottom line!
Do Your Managers Have the Data They Need to Be Great Coaches? Download our eBook to discover the metrics your sales managers might be missing when it comes to coaching, and the role that new enablement technologies can play to deliver them.