Welcome to part three 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.
It’s 10:15 on a Monday morning and Jennifer — a new but promising rep — is sitting down for a discovery call with a high-value prospect. She has multiple monitors set up so that she can see all of the questions she’ll use to qualify business need. Her ring light is shining bright, the background is spotless, and she’s put in the extra effort to thoroughly research the prospect’s business and industry.
Did I mention that this call is also the first time she’ll be addressing the company’s CFO?
Don’t worry! She’s off to a flawless start.
Five minutes in, something gives way… the excitement of closing this big deal takes over. Jennifer is convinced of the value of her company’s solution, she’s sure it’s differentiated — and in an attempt to quickly convey this, she reverts to feature dumping.
The CFO’s eyes glaze over. The call wraps early. The follow-up emails go unanswered.
This was undeniably a coaching moment. So, where was her frontline sales manager? Riding shotgun with a tenured A-player on their team, closing one of the biggest deals of Q4.
We can all see the appeal, but the reality is that the other opportunity would have closed without the manager’s involvement. Instead, Jennifer was left alone and the chance to put a qualified opportunity in the pipeline is gone.
As sales leaders, it’s easy to look at this scenario and say the manager made the right choice. After all, if that deal did not close in Q4, there would be a major problem. Yet, if sales leaders look at their new hire success rates, they may come to a different conclusion.
All too often, we fail to fully realize the extent of demands placed on the modern frontline manager. The truth is that the capacity to coach is finite. So, the question becomes, how do you allocate that finite capacity? Easier asked than solved. But if you get it right, if your organization is smarter about how it’s deploying your frontline managers, you’ll see a measurable lift in sales performance. We studied the data and found that capacity to coach does exist. And we determined the optimal coaching volume for data-driven organizations looking to mint highly effective sales managers.
What Is A Modern Frontline Manger’s Capacity?
A common pushback that we hear in organizations beginning to instill a culture of ongoing sales coaching comes from frontline managers: “I don’t have the time. This is just another thing you’re asking me to do that can’t be fit into my schedule.”
The data tells a different story.
We analyzed the coaching efforts of hundreds of frontline managers in our CT Connect platform and found that effective sales managers are able to consistently coach on a weekly basis.
Then we looked closer in an attempt to answer this question: How much coaching volume is reasonable to expect from those who consistently coach?
According to our research, highly effective managers complete 24-36 coaching sessions per quarter — or two-three per week with different members of their teams. Please keep in mind that these are structured coaching sessions, not impromptu hallway conversations. This weekly cadence and consistency is key. Without that commitment, without it becoming part of their DNA, they’ll miss crucial opportunities to improve seller effectiveness — not to mention losing the reinforcement and refinement that habit brings to the sales coaching process.
Benchmark data represents managers who coach 9+ weeks out of the quarter. Assessments indicate a coaching interaction took place.
Increasing Coaching Volume
Barriers to Coaching Volume
Historically, sales managers have been bogged down in administrivia, inspecting the company’s CRM and reinforcing compliance messaging from upper management. But the role of the sales manager has changed: We know that no other investment comes close to having as much impact on seller performance as coaching.
Furthermore, no one is lining up to argue this point. We’re all in agreement in principle. But without a formal method for structuring sales coaching activities, the reality plays out differently. It’s understandable — with managers now learning how to manage a remote sales force and keep selling motivation high, coaching has never been more important. It’s our job as sales leaders to help sales managers see that coaching, more than any other task they do, is the most critical job of today’s highly effective sales manager.
Factors That Influence Coaching Volume
Managers should consider their team composition before taking a deep dive into establishing their coaching plan. Tenure and performance are key factors that impact a manager’s coaching volume and inform with whom, how, and where they’re spending time.
Due to the complexity of the modern B2B sales cycle, core performers and low-tenured sales reps will inevitably struggle at some point during the cycle — and the results offered by focusing on new hires is clear. A study that included six quarters of data — across 600 sales opportunities and 45 managers — showed that managers who spent most of their coaching time with new and first-year sellers saw a 25% lift in their reps’ sales performance.
While it may seem obvious that team members in their first year need more coaching, it doesn’t always play out like that. Even with the most experienced sales managers. It’s a matter of visibility.
We looked to the coaching data and found that, despite their best efforts, managers tended to spend less time with new hires than they should have. That’s why we introduced a feature into CT Connect that enables frontline managers to see a snapshot of their team’s tenure while making their coaching plans.
Tactical Advice for Increasing Coaching Volume
Encourage your frontline managers to make a plan. They can stave off analysis paralysis by using CRM data to institute a consistent schedule that considers their team’s composition, tenure, and performance while prioritizing top-of-funnel interactions. Plus, they build productive habits by tracking your new hires’ important meetings and calls — with high value prospects, you may not get another bite at the apple.
Realistically, sales managers already spend a large portion of their time joining sales calls and conducting deal reviews. The effort needed to tack on an assessment for structured coaching at the end of those meetings is relatively small. By using a Likert scale to assess crucial selling behaviors at each stage in your company’s sales process, managers can help reps advance key opportunities with only an incremental increase in effort that will soon become second nature.
The Right Sales Tech
If keeping track of all of these variables seems like a Herculean task, the good news is that the right sales tool can help you automate these processes and free up sales managers to ensure that they’re allocating their finite capacity toward the right rep, at the right time, in the right way.
With help from CT Connect, sales managers build coaching plans that focus on new hires and middle performers, allocate more time to top-of-funnel interactions, and identify and improve the selling behaviors that matter most.
CT Connect helps sales organizations build repeatable sales management cadences that drive results by:
- Increasing Volume: Capitalize on joint calls and deal reviews to quickly create coaching opportunities with an easy-to-use interface that is aligned with your specific sales process.
- Identifying Coaching Opportunities: Keep crucial information top-of-mind with snapshots that show a team’s tenure and sales performance — enabling managers to identify critical coaching opportunities for specific team members.
- Tracking ROI: Use executive leadership analytics and reporting features to correlate coaching to better win rates and goal attainment.
Ready to see CT Connect at work? Click here to request a demo.