How To Drive Sales Productivity Through Sales Coaching

How To Drive Sales Productivity Through Sales Coaching

Pradeepa Kolli is VP of Sales with LHH (The Adecco Group).

Here are two of my favorite interview questions when hiring a front-line sales leader.

• When was the last time you picked up the phone to ring a prospect?

• When was the last time you went to a customer meeting to win a deal with your rep?

Sadly, most often, the response is from six months ago or a year ago.

Improving sales productivity is more critical than ever in this cost-sensitive economy we are in. Sales productivity has a direct impact on the bottom line, which in turn impacts the top-line revenue. The key to maximizing sales productivity starts with front-line sales leadership through effective sales coaching.

A lot of sales leaders still get confused with sales enablement vs. sales coaching and tend to rely on enablement teams to drive this. In some cases, sales leaders might pass the blame on sales enablement teams for the lack of sales reps’ performance.

Sales training is about regular product/process training for onboarding and product updates that happen throughout the year. However, sales coaching needs to be owned by the sales manager to drive performance and career growth, decrease rep turnover and create happier teams by adding value on a day-to-day basis.

Why sales coaching?

According to a recent report from Gartner, only 23% of B2B sales reps feel they are equally effective selling virtually as in person. Meanwhile, another recent report found that B2B sales reps forget 70% of the training they have received within a week of training, and 87% forget it within a month of onboarding.

Retention of sales training without systematic coaching has no ROI on enablement investments and thus impacts sales productivity. Sales teams today struggle with the digital adoption of new tools to enable them to sell smarter and more efficiently.

According to McKinsey, outperforming organizations today commit to 79% more coaching at the front line and have a disciplined approach to drive this with hyper-personalization per seller.

Where are leaders not doing enough?

Many managers don’t do more coaching because they feel they don’t have time to do it. Too often, this crucial sales component is lost amid the need to complete other mission-critical activities. Managers often are distracted by other urgent tasks which are neither the most important nor the most strategic.

A recent report from Gartner found that the average sales manager spends a full 55% of their time on internally-focused activities, only 21% of their time coaching, 15% of their time selling and closing and 9% of their time building market expertise.

This leaves little time for a manager to develop their team. As a result, managers have become cheerleaders for their teams and “sales dashboard” keepers instead of being hands-on with the sales tools, tailoring the coaching to maximize performance and sales productivity.

Organizations need to ensure managers are process and methodology experts—in whatever sales methodology they may decide—and certify themselves before training others.

Managers should also be subject matter experts in tech tools before they expect the teams to master how to use them. They must ruthlessly prioritize their calendars by removing noisy meetings which don’t impact revenue and moving the needle toward revenue-accelerating activities like coaching.

I’ve found that best-in-class sales managers spend 70% of their weekly time on coaching.

Effective coaching does not happen on a scheduled coaching hour/time. Make every interaction with your rep a coaching moment rather than just a check-in on performance.

Here are twelve of the most effective strategies I’ve found for leaders seeking to up their coaching skills.

1. Dedicated coaching for one hour each week with each rep to review what went well and what areas need improvement.

2. Peer-to-peer call coaching in which your teams share feedback from the calls.

3. Quarterly contests to build a library for the best calls and best emails.

4. Constructive deal reviews and investigations in which you can have your rep present a deal and brainstorm with you along with a peer in the team to unlock any blocks they might be facing.

5. Lunch and learn expert series that offer sales training or tips on remote selling.

6. Tool reviews that capture tech tool adoption rates and can help you lead by example as a manager.

7. Weekly check-ins and role-plays to address areas of the sales process reps are less confident in.

8. Shadowing a rep’s meeting or phone call with a prospect.

9. Email reviews on prospecting emails, discovery call follow-ups, negotiation emails and post-sale emails to drive the most positive response rates

10. Territory planning to ensure your reps are maximizing time with the best accounts carrying the highest potential to close.

11. Attending prospect meetings and prospecting with the team (show and tell).

12. Tracking coaching and goal progress, allowing you to nurture your pipeline deals that are not ready to purchase yet by tracking them on CRM and building relationships.

I hope this piece offers leaders some valuable takeaways for coaching success.

Successful sales coaching requires a high intent from your front-line sales manager with daily interaction with your team. Remember: Coaching is the key to driving sales productivity.

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