Pick your favorite hobby. Whether you are learning to play an instrument or a sport, your learning curve accelerates by how frequently you practice that skill and coaching is no different. Managers who consistently coach are better coaches…not because they necessarily were built that way but because they practiced the craft consistently and got better.
We speak to many sales leadership development trailblazers who question whether their managers are capable coaches. They very well may not be. But teaching them coaching skills will not solve the problem. What is more critical for sales managers is to regularly practice the craft of coaching and see the impact on more deals won and reps to plan.
However, in the digital age, monitoring the habits of sales managers and helping them sort through all the sales metrics at their disposal to identify where, with whom, and how to spend their limited coaching resources is increasingly difficult without a well-defined sales management cadence and the right tech. So, how can sales leaders help their teams adopt an approach backed by quantifiable insights to drive sustainable success? One of the top three factors in data-driven sales coaching is consistency.
What is Sales Coaching Consistency?
When we speak of consistent coaching, we’re referring to the metrics that identify to what extent coaching is prioritized on a weekly basis vs. all at once. Our research indicates that regular sales coaching needs to be a part of your manager’s process — it can’t be something they wedge in at the beginning or end of a quarter because someone is telling them to do it or a handful of their reps didn’t make quota. Highly effective managers make a plan each week on where to prioritize coaching.
Barriers to Coaching Consistency
Managing vs. Coaching
In our experience, frontline managers tend to fall into one of three categories:
- Manager A: identifies with sales coaching as a critical variable for their success in role, creates a process to stay consistent, and works to sharpen their own coaching skills.
- Manager B: is willing to work at it if it’s important to leadership, but coaching is not something they’ve mastered, so they’re less consistent.
- Manager C: doesn’t understand the difference between coaching and managing, and is somewhat uncomfortable with coaching, so they don’t prioritize it and are the most inconsistent.
Managers A is already at the port, but Managers B and C are the ones who’s in danger of missing the boat entirely. They may think of coaching as telling their reps what to go do, not realizing that effective sales coaching is all about diagnosing the issues, guiding not telling, and having a process to develop their people. Managers B and C are likely to see coaching as another task that they do not have time for, and this leads to a reactive stance — one that’s merely tactical instead of strategic and based on gut feelings instead of analysis. And while it’s true that coaching capacity is finite, it’s the job of sales leaders to help these managers see that coaching capacity does exist and every day managers make a choice about which reps they work with to improve overall team performance.
What we’ve learned from our most consistent managers is that they forecast their week, decide where to spend time, make a plan, and execute. It’s no easy task to implement immediately, but by following through on solid intentions, sales managers can develop coaching as a habit, making it much easier to stay consistent.
After all, Charles Duhig — author of the Power of Habit — famously detailed how habit is dictated by a neurological pattern that includes a cue, routine, and reward. We’ve seen similar patterns: The top 10% of CT Connect users coach nine or more weeks each quarter. Making a habit of spending 10 minutes at the beginning of each week to determine where to spend time is key for moving from a reactive to proactive coaching posture. The sellers now come to expect regular coaching sessions from their manager, and they invest in meeting and exceeding their managers expectations.
Why Consistent Sales Coaching Matters
A Missed Opportunity
Every week there are a set of high value sales calls being made and opportunities being worked. The difference between an effective and ineffective sales manager is significant in terms of impact to team performance. Managers who consistently coach improve the outcomes for their teams each week, get more new hires ramped, and more of their team to plan.
Keeping Sellers Engaged
It’s increasingly clear that the future of B2B sales demands organizations take a digital-first approach. And seller engagement is highly correlated with the quality of their manager. Managers who consistently coach, build happier, more productive sales teams that can survive and thrive in today’s selling environment.
The Right Sales Tech
Ultimately, nothing fuels a data-driven culture of coaching like the right tools. CT Connect helps sales leaders increase the ROI of sales coaching programs by providing insight into blindspots and furthering their understanding of the consistency, volume, and quality of the coaching taking place within their organization.
- Coaching Plans: To enable managers to prioritize WHO on their team will most benefit from coaching, like new hires and middle-performers, CT Connect identifies seller-specific gaps and strengths.
- Workflow Integration: To strengthen consistency, CT Connect provides calendar integration to further embed the practice into your sales managers’ workflows.
- Coach the Coach: To further encourage proactive coaching practices, CT Connect helps 2nd line leaders to evaluate their frontline managers’ coaching plans monthly to determine if the right reps regularly receive coaching.
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