Welcome to the final chapter in our series on data-driven sales coaching, aimed at arming sales leaders with the advice they need to effectively direct coaching efforts and realize a strong ROI. If you’re new to the series, start here.
Tuesday, 10:43 am
Adam is a second-year rep who is a moderate performer — he’s no rainmaker yet, but his manager, Kelly, sees the potential. However, Adam has a problem: He tends to focus on features and functions rather than clearly differentiating the business value his solution provides. Adam and Kelly connect for a pre-call prep session.
After a few minutes, Kelly gets the gist. It’s not that Adam doesn’t know how his company’s capabilities differ from the competition, he’s just having a hard time articulating which business initiatives would lead a prospective customer to select his company.
Tuesday, 11:45 am
Adam and Kelly follow-up for a post call debrief after the call. Adam is animated and ready to discuss his performance. After all, he’s a competitive and motivated sales professional with potential. It only makes sense that he’s craving direction and ways to constantly improve.
“So, how’d it go?” asks Kelly. “Were you able to elevate the conversation beyond how our software is continually monitored?”
After a prolonged pause, Adam says, “They are going to get back to me. The conversation veered toward a lot of questions about our features and I did my best to answer them.”
After several suggestions from Kelly on how to follow-up, the post-call debrief wraps. Kelly needs to shift Adam’s behavior but the feedback she delivers is unstructured and Adam doesn’t really understand how to shift.
The 1:1 time managers spend with their reps is finite. How can sales leaders help managers ensure they are maximizing the impact of coaching interactions? We studied the data and found intriguing correlations around the types of feedback provided to reps and their rate of development.
Increasing Sales Coaching Quality
What’s the Measure of Coaching Quality?
It all comes down to value. Quality sales coaching is coaching that furthers professional skills and helps organizations get the most from their sellers.
What’s the animating force behind these results?
Behaviors drive performance — making it critical that your frontline managers are able to accurately assess a rep’s ability to perform a behavior based on a set of clear expectations, provide a rationale for this assesment, and deliver concrete recommendations on how the rep can better meet those expectations in the future.
The Importance of Criticality
To be critical can be perceived as negative — but to fully realize the value in sales coaching, sales leaders must help their managers view this concept in a constructive light.
The urge to sugarcoat feedback comes from many motivations. A new sales manager might feel unease or a sense of imposter syndrome when critiquing a more tenured rep. Others worry about bringing down team morale or becoming unpopular. In our experience, it also tends to stem from a misunderstanding of how to use a structured scoring system. To rate someone’s behavior at a three out of five can be perceived as mediocre — whereas a three should be seen as a win since it indicates that expectations were met. A four and five leave space to excel above and beyond.
However, critical and honest assessment drives sales performance. The short- and long-term benefits will not be realized if managers don’t develop the skills to accurately assign scoring that gives sellers a realistic view of their current skill set and builds the foundation to show their progression over time. So, how can sales leaders help?
Begin by acknowledging the discomfort a sales manager may feel and provide examples that show how the confidence to deliver critical feedback comes with practice.
We see this all the time. Newer users of CT Connect often begin with a higher average score (calculated by taking the average of all their assessments). As the quarters pass, and managers gain more comfort in providing critical feedback, this average score tends to decrease. By teaching your managers that it is ok to be critical and helping them position their role as coach with the team, you’ll be able to expedite the process and realize an improvement in sales coaching quality — and sales results — sooner.
Note: Consistency is measured by users who are active coaching their teams in 9 or more weeks each quarter.
While the formula for effective sales coaching sounds simple, many managers conflate coaching with documenting. They’re able to articulate the gaps that occured, but they struggle to provide sellers with vital information around how those gaps happened and why it’s important to address them.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate the point: The assessment on the left merely points out what Adam did wrong and what he did correctly — while the one on the right guides Adam toward development by clearly articulating advice for future interactions and explaining why it matters.
It’s this type of qualitative feedback that sparks change. The real kicker here is that it doesn’t require a significant time commitment to go from the example on the left to the one on the right — just a shift in perspective.
If you provide sales managers with a common framework that’s aligned to your specific sales process, it becomes easier to consistently evaluate key behaviors and provide the qualitative feedback that drives sales performance.
In fact, the data supports this.
After analyzing the coaching efforts of hundreds of frontline managers in our CT Connect platform, we found that, as sales managers improve their coaching consistency, there’s a corresponding uptick in the amount of feedback they provide to sellers.
The Right Sales Tech
Ultimately, it’s difficult to ensure your frontline managers are driving the behavioral changes that lead to increased sales productivity without a consistent coaching framework in place. The good news is that the right sales tech helps you increase sales coaching consistency, volume, and quality with only incremental increases in effort on the part of your already put-upon managers.
With help from CT Connect, sales managers can accurately assess a rep’s ability to perform a behavior, provide a rationale for their conclusions, and deliver concrete recommendations on how they can improve and why it’s imperative that they do.
CT Connect helps sales organizations increase sales coaching quality and realize stronger ROI by:
- Objective Scoring: Drive further accuracy in the assessment process by providing managers with the means to keep an eye on their criticality and the average score they’re awarding to sellers.
- Improved Feedback: Give sellers the feedback they need to develop with a framework that ensures managers are evaluating specific behaviors and providing guidance on the “how” and “why.”
- Tracking ROI: Use executive leadership analytics and reporting features to correlate improved behavior scores to better KPIs and goal attainment.
Ready to see CT Connect at work? Click here to request a demo.