How To Structure Sales Manager Enablement To Crush Your 2018 Goals

,

Three key insights into sales manager enablement that will help your sales organization reach (or exceed!) 2018 goals.

There is a deep-rooted problem in today’s sales organizations. Frontline managers are trapped in a vice created by the traditional approach to sales: Hit the number at all costs. The status quo has sales organizations lurching from quarter to quarter, barely keeping ahead of the game, and rarely pausing to improve. There is a mantra in leadership theory that we have to “slow down to speed up“. But this is a luxury that sales simply cannot afford in their quota-driven world. As forward-thinking organizations are just beginning to build sales manager enablement programs, the burning question is how to structure programs that sales managers will actually want to use.

This year, CommercialTribe hosted five Sales Manager Effectiveness workshops around the country. In the beginning, we weren’t at all sure how this concept would be received by the market. There wasn’t much work or research being done that focused specifically on the frontline sales manager role, and part of our intent was to see how important and relevant sales manager development is to sales organizations, and to work with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the country to understand how they are structuring solutions to the sales manager enablement issue.

Who Needs To Be Involved In Sales Manager Enablement?

sales manager enablement trust alignmentThe interest in sales manager enablement cuts across all the main stakeholders of an Enterprise sales organization. We began our outreach by focusing on the sales enablement function, thinking that these leaders are most familiar with the benefits realized by training and development. We quickly realized how important the topic is to sales operations and leadership as well. Each function has a slightly different stake in it, but all recognize the acute need for developing better sales managers.

Sales Enablement

Sales manager enablement is much bigger than training—it’s the next generation of enablement. Creating buy-in and measuring the impact of initiatives is a perennial issue for sales enablement. Sales manager development helps enablement create a bridge between their central function and the field. It is a catalyst for leader-first enablement, where sales managers become force multipliers by enabling their teams in the field through coaching.

Sales Operations

Sales operations leaders care about sales manager enablement because they recognize that the data they need is only as good as the people entering it. This data entry, of course, largely falls on the shoulders of frontline managers and reps in the field. They recognize that a well-developed, highly professional sales manager has a greater appreciation for the importance of data-driven management. Further, they need sales managers to consistently and effectively coach their reps on how to enter data correctly in order to maintain (or, in many cases, create) data integrity.

Sales Leadership

Forward-thinking sales leaders want to create a sustained revenue generating machine. This goal is easier said than done, and there are many parts to building such a machine. But sales leaders we talked with quickly recognized how improving the effectiveness of their sales management team multiplied the impact of improved rep performance and productivity. The ability to develop their entire team—to “shift the middle”—is central to their ability to build and sustain their revenue engine.

The purpose of the Sales Manager Effectiveness Workshops was to show these stakeholders how to align their needs to create a successful sales manager enablement program in their own organizations. Three key insights to making sales manager enablement succeed in your organization came out of these workshops: trust and alignment in creating a sales manager enablement program are critical, sales manager enablement cannot solely be solved centrally, and teams must focus on developing specific interactions—in workflow—rather than training on skills. Let’s take a look at each of these insights in greater detail.

1. Trust & Alignment Are Critical For Sales Manager Enablement

The fact that you need to be able to observe, assess, and coach to develop a team is basic. But what you really need to do this effectively is trust. What I mean by trust, in this context, is not about trust in individual people or managers (though that is important, too). It’s that everyone in the organization trusts the criteria that they are being evaluated against, and how that criterion manifests in their coaching.

Unfortunately, this trust is largely missing from most sales organizations today. The reason it is missing is that it’s extremely difficult to get all the stakeholder groups in a sales organization aligned on the skills that they believe drive results. When you think about the three main personas profiled above and what their stakes in sales manager enablement are, getting each of these functions, as well as all the individual people within them, to agree is no easy task. There are very few organizations that have aligned on key skills to assess for their sellers and even fewer that have accomplished this for their frontline sales managers.

The exciting part about this is that sales organizations are truly beginning to understand the importance of doing this and they are working on tackling this issue of trust by aligning around sales assessments. But it’s one thing to talk about it, another thing to actually put it down on paper, and a completely different world to put it into practice in a sales manager enablement process by measuring the effectiveness of coaching and development.

So, how do you create trust in your organization around evaluating the right skills and then coaching to develop them? The key to accomplishing trust is a step in the process of building a sales manager enablement program we call Calibration. In this context, calibration is code for alignment. It’s how you create alignment in all layers of the organization, including enablement, ops, and sales leadership, as well as sales managers and reps who all need to trust in the evaluation criteria and the coaching process.

If your organization—in particular, your sales managers—are not aligned with the assessment criteria and how to coach, the program becomes a mess. People don’t know what to expect, they have different experiences. And when there is no consistency in how people are being coached and evaluated, there is no way to pull real insights out of the data to enable effective, targeted coaching at scale. In this environment, there is no way to get coaching and development to stick.

2. Sales Manager Enablement Must Happen Within The Team’s Workflow

sales manager enablement in-workflowSales enablement creates great training and practice programs using their LMS and/or learning paths that provide the sales team with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the field. The problem with this in sales manager enablement is a time management issue. Frontline sales managers will do anything to get their team to hit the quota, but they are starved for time in their daily lives to “slow down to speed up”.

In reality, sales managers have very little time, and often less desire, to participate in enablement-lead learning and development. They need coaching and development that is timely, highly relevant, and succinct. They need development that happens within their daily workflow.

What do I mean by this? Sales managers and their reps already have scheduled meetings—many of which happen on a regular cadence (hopefully). The most effective sales manager enablement initiatives will work within these meetings to evaluate interactions and provide relevant, timely feedback on how the manager, seller, or both can improve. Sales manager enablement that happens within workflow helps to create trust in the process, improves engagement, and significantly increases the performance of sales teams.

3. Focus Sales Manager Enablement On Developing An Interaction, Rather Than On Skills

This insight is so beautiful in its simplicity that it’s difficult to think that very few organizations are doing this today. Most sales training programs focus on skills development. They create a skills-based framework and try to train the field to develop all of these skills to apply to their interactions. At first, this makes sense. After all, if a manager or rep develops active listening skills, for example, she can apply that skill to each of her interactions whether it’s a 1-on-1 meeting or a discovery call or a negotiation.

The critical reality is that this type of training is simply too much information for a global sales organization to internalize and apply in the real-world with any great impact. We know from research that only about 30% of training content is retained by participants. When they go out into the world they end up simply reverting to old habits, putting hundreds of thousands of training investment to waste.

Instead, focus your sales manager enablement program on improving specific, real-world interactions they have in their daily lives. For sales manager development, consider focusing on 1-on-1, pipeline review, deal review, or forecast meetings. For sales reps, this may include interactions such as the discovery call, the demo, or negotiation call.

The message is clear: sales organizations need to focus on sales manager enablement by providing them with the training, tools, and coaching they need to coach and develop their reps. In so doing, we create force multipliers within the sales organization who can help create agile, sustained revenue-generating sales teams now and in the long-term.

Upcoming Sales Manager Enablement Workshop Blog CTA

4 Sales Leader Resolutions That Will Fail (And The One That Won’t)

,

Why Do Sales Leaders Make Resolutions That Are Bound To Fail?

How did 2017 end for you? Did your team smash their goal, barely squeak by, or fall apart? As a sales leader, your success is based entirely on your team’s performance. So, no matter what happened in the past year, I’m willing to bet that you’re making some resolutions to be a better sales leader—to improve your team’s performance.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

If you want improved performance (and what sales leader doesn’t?) you need to change something. But what will you resolve to change this year? What can you resolve to change this year that will have an impact?

sales leader resolutions goalsChange is hard. The most common New Year’s Resolutions fall into three main buckets: being healthier, self-improvement, and better financial management—all worthy desires we can all attest to wanting. But research (and common knowledge) says that 88% of us fail to achieve our goals, illustrating that the desire to change alone is not sufficient to actually achieving goals. What do the 12% do that the rest of us don’t? Read on.

For sales leaders, change is an even more daunting task. Every year (and quarter, and sometimes even month) is Groundhog Day. Remember Bill Murray? Wake up and go knock down the number all over again…

For many sales leaders, this pressure gets handed down to the team and can make it feel like nothing else that matters. Hit the number. Hit the number… But while the number will be how you are measured, the process you follow to get to it is what you can improve.

So, did you resolve to be better this year? In the spirit of new beginnings, here are four resolutions I know you’ll have trouble keeping, and one that you actually can.

Sales Leader Resolution Bound for Failure #1

I will spend more time developing my team.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an absolute advocate for developing sales teams. It’s what I’m passionate about. But the pitfall with this common sales leader resolution is that, without the proper structure in place, you will eventually let sales team development slip as daily pressures and competition for your time intensifies.

Steve Jobs said: “The most precious resource we have is time.” We often don’t think about it that way, but time is scarce. To do something is to take away something else. What are you going to take away in order to spend more time developing your team? What will your managers and reps have to give up?

Here’s a list of stuff the average sales team does on a routine basis: Sales Calls, Field Travel, Forecast Reviews, Pipeline Reviews, Deal Reviews, Territory Reviews, 1-on-1s, Team Meetings. Then there are the fire drills that constantly derail everything.

Keeping all the trains running on time in and of itself is a significant undertaking. Finding more time outside of these settings to develop your team is not likely to be sustainable. Eventually, your focus will flounder and the time you put aside for development will revert back to old habits.

Sales Leader Resolution Bound for Failure #2

I will be a better coach.

Coaching is a skill that can be learned. Getting better, like any skill, requires repetition. You’ve probably read a lot about the multiplicative impact of coaching, so you’re ready to dig in. But how will you be better?

First off, you’ll need to carve out the time and space for coaching in an already chaotic schedule (see #1 above). You’ll need to be able to identify not just how to coach your team but, more importantly, what to coach them on. Your high-performing managers will need to develop different skills than those that are struggling with high turnover and under-performance. Then you’ll need a feedback mechanism to help you understand if you’re making progress toward becoming a better coach.

Better sales coaching is a critical need in today’s business, and working to become better is certainly a worthy goal; however, you’re likely to abandon it when it feels hard and the impact is unclear. it’s taking too much time and the impact is unclear.

Sales Leader Resolution Bound for Failure #3

I will build a great team culture.

sales leader resolutions team cultureThere’s a famous Peter Drucker quote that says: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You may be feeling like the key to success is a better team environment. There’s nothing more fun than being part of a team that loves coming to work each day. But cultures are lived, not made. Nor are they easy to measure and identify. How will you do it?

For many leaders, more time as a team outside of work is an answer, including team building events or everyone’s favorite boondoggle. These are time-tested tactics that can have an impact but may not necessarily change how your team performs on the job.

Culture means different things to different people, and building a great culture is certainly a worthy sales leader resolution. But it’s bound for failure if it simply revolves around happy hours and forced “team building” interactions.If you want to build a great culture, think about how your team interacts with each other every day. Think about what your people value, what their professional goals are and how they are empowered to work toward those goals.

Sales Leader Resolutions Bound For Failure #4

I will mint more stars.

Every sales leader has their stars. And every sales leader wants more of them. On the best sales teams, star managers and sellers push everyone else to be better. On the worst, the team’s performance is overwhelmingly reliant on them. So how do you get more of them?

There is a severe shortage of sales talent out there, so you can either hire them or you can make them. The problem with hiring them is that they are tough (and expensive) to find, and they often come with baggage. Making them is far better, particularly for growing sales teams,, but it’s not like flipping a switch—developing stars takes time.

If you want to mint more stars, put a plan in place today but don’t expect anything to come to fruition overnight.

What Do These 4 Sales Leader Resolutions Have in Common?

Time.

None for these sales leader resolutions are bad goals to have. But remember we’re talking about resolutions here. And the #1 reason resolutions fail is because YOU’RE TREATING A MARATHON LIKE A SPRINT.

In the sales world, time is currency and managing it leads to long-term success. Small changes are more likely to be achieved because they aren’t so intimidating and they can happen within your sales team’s existing workflow. The last thing you want to do is shoot for something big, only to find out you don’t have a realistic plan to attain it.

So, what is the one sales leader resolution you can actually keep?

The One Resolution You Will Actually Keep

I will make my team better at one activity they are already doing.

Now hear me out. You can do this. There’s definitely something that’s gnawing at you coming into the new year. Has your team ever missed a forecast? Ever feel like you’re handing down a goal and praying the team can build enough pipeline to hit it? Have you ever joined a sales call, only to cringe at what you hear?

Whatever it might be that’s on your mind, your team can get better at it. Pick the one activity you want to improve and then go to work. Where do your people already do that one activity? Is it the forecast meeting or opportunity review? Perhaps the discovery call or demo? The most critical activities for your sales team to improve are already on everyone’s calendar every day, week, and month. Pick the event and start observing to understand what’s actually happening.
What you’re probably going to find is there aren’t clear expectations, leaving it up to each individual’s interpretation of what “best practice” looks like. Or maybe you’ve set those expectations but your team struggles to apply them, but now you know why. Either way, you’ve got a coaching path to solving the problem.

One final piece of advice and this is important. When you start showing up to meetings and calls that you never used to before, people are going to think its about performance. Nothing puts people more on edge than feeling as if they’re being evaluated and that evaluation will be used against them in a performance related discussion.

You can help alleviate this natural anxiety by communicating your positive intent. Your mantra is to pick everyone up, not bring them down. If you set it up right, you just might start to chip away at some of the other failed resolutions we explored earlier.

We will probably never stop making resolutions. It’s in our optimistic human nature to continually strive to be better. But why go to all the trouble of trying to change if you can’t actually follow through? Shrink the size of the change and create a clear plan to execute. Focus on making it as easy as possible for you and your team. If you have to think too hard or do too much, you’re off track.

Do you want to build a team that is capable of taking on bigger goals every quarter?
Do you want a great culture that attracts and retains the best talent?
Are you tired of taking your team out of the field for training with questionable impact?
Do you feel like you can’t add any more non-selling work to your team’s plate?
Do you want a SUSTAINABLE REVENUE MACHINE?

 

sales leader resolutions guide cta

7 Reasons Your Deal Review is a Complete Waste of Time (and How to Fix It)

,

Formalize your deal review in 7 simple steps.

As David Brock notes in his book, Sales Manager Survival Guide, sales managers spend their lives in reviews. So it might come as a shock that it’s likely that the majority of the time you spend in reviews is wasted. The core reason is that most sales managers never learned why you do reviews and what you are supposed to accomplish in them in the first place. You are likely simply copying reviews that you’ve experienced in the past.

Let’s focus specifically on your deal review and look at the seven reasons it is likely a complete waste of your time, and how to fix it.

1. You Are Mixing Reviews

In his book, Brock calls it “comparing apples to oranges.” All too often, sales managers allow forecast and pipeline reviews to degenerate into an ad hoc deal review. The result is that neither you nor your sales team will acquire the relevant information they need for either.

Another common mistake sales managers make is to do the deal review as a one-on-one. When deal reviews are done as a team, everyone on the team benefits from learning from their peers’ deals. A sharing of tribal knowledge naturally occurs and reps have the opportunity to apply that knowledge to their own deals.

How To Fix It

The most simple way to fix this issue is to put a formal review process in place and follow it closely. Different reviews have different objectives, so they should be separated to ensure you and your team are efficiently managing the pipeline.

Get Your FREE Guides To Formalize Your Review Processes >>

2. Neither you nor your reps have prepared for the deal review

You are extremely busy. Hopping from meeting to meeting, phone call to phone call is exhausting. How are you ever supposed to have time to actually prepare for each meeting when you barely have time to grab another cup of coffee to keep you going.

But a little bit of preparation goes a long way in giving you back your time. There is a return on time invested when you learn how to manage an efficient deal review, rather than winging it.

You should also not tolerate a lack of preparation from your reps. Both you and your reps need to do a little bit of pre-work in advance of a deal review to ensure the meeting runs as efficiently as possible.

How To Fix It

First, place ownership of the deal review into the hands of your sellers. It takes a bit of sales team development to accomplish this, but as reps get used to the new dynamic, you will find that they are arriving to deal reviews much better prepared.

Schedule just 5 – 10 minutes prior to each deal review on your calendar for prep time, and instruct your reps to do the same. Treat this time as sacred as any other meeting you attend and use it to review the details of the deal. This means understanding the background, pain points, solutions, and risks of the deal based on the information already available.

Since you have created a list of set questions (from #1 above), your sales rep should be using this time to prepare their answers to these questions.

3. Your deal review is one-sided

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Sam, an average-performing rep on your team, calls your office line during the scheduled time for his weekly deal review with you. He is working on a fairly important deal that has the potential to bring in $82,000 upon closing, and more in renewals and upsell potential. The problem they are looking to solve has clear synergies with your solution and, up until about two weeks ago, they were moving through the pipeline smoothly.

Sam starts the conversation by talking about the company, where they are located, when they came in, what their issues are, what solutions have been presented to them, what conversations have happened, etc, etc. He continues on and on as you listen to background and historical information that you’ve heard before. You are also looking at the majority of this information as you scan the account record in Salesforce while Sam continues to talk.

“…and now they’ve basically gone quiet. I haven’t heard from them for almost two weeks.” Sam ends his spiel. You happen to glance at the clock on your screen and you’re 15 minutes into a 30-minute meeting and you’ve barely said two words.

One-sided reviews can go either way—either you are doing all the talking or your rep is. As in this scenario, sellers can have a tendency to tell stories and simply do a “data dump”, rather than provide facts and data that are relevant and concise.

On the other hand, when the manager is the one doing all the talking, they are not providing their reps with career development coaching that will help both the rep and the manager in the long term. Managers tend to fall into the habit of telling and instructing, rather than asking and listening.

Tweet this: When your deal review is one-sided, neither side gets the full story or the opportunity to understand. You think you know all the right answers, even though it is your rep who is closest to the deal. And your rep leaves the meeting without a deeper understanding of how to win a deal on their own, without needing to involve management as much.

How To Fix It

Your deal review should be a conversation, where both parties are contributing. To become a good sales manager, work on developing your coaching methodology within your routine interactions with your team, such as during a deal review.

Ask coaching questions that not only improve your understanding of the deal but will also get your rep thinking about the deal themselves and understand the “why” behind your recommendations and outcomes. Why, what, and how questions are typically how good coaching questions begin.

4. No action items come out of the deal review

I have observed many deal reviews that have simply ended without an action item. Time’s up (or overdue) and the two parties simply part, neither of them much better off than they were 30 or 40 minutes ago.

One of the important objectives of a deal review is to identify specific action items that will help your rep win the deal. If you do not establish clear action items with your reps to accomplish this before your next meeting, you have completely wasted time.

How To Fix It

Tweet this: A sales manager who is also a great coach will get buy-in on action items from their reps. This means asking specific “how” questions that will help your reps determine what they need to do to ensure the win themselves.

Help your rep build a list of action items that they will commit to completing and the timelines associated with each. Document the action items so that you can track and reconcile that they were acted on later.

5. Action items are not reconciled from week to week

Those managers who do set action items during the deal review often do not reconcile them from week to week. There is little point in setting action items if you are not going to follow up on them to make sure they were completed and find out what the result was.

This behavior leads to a lack of accountability and responsibility from your reps.

How To Fix It

Incorporate about 5 minutes for action item reconciliation in your weekly deal review agenda. During this part of the deal review, refer to the action items list you created with your rep the week before and quickly go through each, asking what the result of the action was.

6. You are too focused on late-stage deals

A big part of your job is to be hyper-focused on the short-term results of your sales team. The problem is that the relentless pursuit of short-term objectives means that you tend to be so focused on the late-stage opportunities in your team’s pipeline that you all but ignore the top of the sales funnel.

Deal reviews should include qualified opportunities that are in the earlier stages of your sales process as well. After all, these are the deals that are going to pay dividends during your next week, month, or quarter.

How To Fix It

The fix here is pretty simple: do deal reviews on early stage deals! Creating a strategy for winning a deal early on and executing it will only help reach your goals.

7. You are trying to make your deal review “one size fits all”

Not all deal reviews should be the same. Trying to make them one size fits all will simply make them irrelevant and waste valuable time.

If you manage a team that has different roles or focuses on different geographic areas, products, industry targets, etc. your deal review has to be customized to those variables. Often, the difference isn’t dramatic, but you can’t expect deals to all play out the same way.

How To Fix It

Think about the different segments and/or roles of the people on your team—maybe make a list to map them out. Next, think about the goals and objectives that each of these segments on your team has, and the differences in the deals that they work on.

Come up with a clear structure for each of the different areas on your team that you manage. This may include a specific agenda, objective, list of questions, and coaching questions for each. Planning these out will help you run a deal review with each more effectively and help improve your deal reviews on an ongoing basis.

The deal review is a critical activity for sales managers, so it’s astonishing how much of a waste of time so many of them really are. While we looked specifically at deal reviews in this post, the truth is that these mistakes and fixes can be applied to all of the reviews scheduled on your calendar.

Tweet this: Take the time to improve your reviews, formalize your management processes, and develop your sales team so that you can run a more effective, more efficient sales organization.

Deal-Review-Sales-Manager-Development-eBook

How to Put Defined Sales Processes in Place and Even Have Your Salespeople Love You For It

,

It’s a fact: well-defined sales processes lead to more productive sales performance. In a study conducted by CSO Insights, this fact was validated—companies with defined sales processes won 53% of their forecasted deals vs. 43% with ad hoc processes. This essentially means that a defined sales process yields 23% more output from sales. The numbers for % reps making quota, and % companies making plan also tell a similar story (see graph below).

CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Report

2011 Sales Performance Optimization Report, CSO Insights, www.csoinsights.com

From nearly every vantage point, the research confirms that better sales processes equal better sales performance. Reason to say yes to formalizing your sales processes? We think so!

Cracking the Sales Management Code

The information above was taken directly from Cracking the Sales Management Code, by Jason Jordan. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you pick it up—it’s a favorite in our office. The basic takeaway is that you can’t manage organizational outcomes—quota attainment, revenue—which is traditionally where a lot of sales organizations focus.

Instead, your focus— especially if you’re a sales manager—should be on proactively managing reps’ activities by establishing deliberate, standardized meetings/activities with formal agendas, inputs, and outputs. Managed well, improvements in these activities will impact measurable objectives and ultimately improve outcomes.

Putting an actionable plan in place

I want to highlight how we were able to bring a formal, defined process to a typical sales meeting: The Forecast Review. Often, the urgency of the forecast beats the importance of rep development.  But it’s a false dilemma.  There are ways to improve both at the same time.

We’ve spent the last six months listening to hundreds of manager-seller interactions— forecasts, 1-on-1s, opportunity reviews, account management meetings, and pre-call planning sessions.  The bad news is that the general quality of these meetings are substandard.  The good news is that with some simple modifications they can be improved dramatically — leading to accurate forecasts, improved quota attainment, empowered salespeople, and ultimately improved sales performance.

If your forecast review meeting is not on a formal cadence with a formal approach and a formal agenda then you’re a hack…well, not really.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s easy to fix. Here are six adjustments that will rock your forecast review meetings:

  1. Standardize the agenda, purpose and approach
  2. Model good and bad meetings
  3. Ask versus tell
  4. Make requests, promises and agreements
  5. Transfer meeting ownership to the salesperson
  6. Inspect what you expect

Download this guide for more detail on how to implement this proven structure and customize for your environment.  And if you’d like to continue this effort to improve other processes, you can download the entire set of Sales Manager Guides including:

  • Retain and Grow Key Accounts
  • Build and Execute a Territory Action Plan
  • Qualify and Execute Multi-Stage Sales Cycles
  • Produce an Accurate and Reliable Forecast

I hope you find these guides helpful in putting more formalized sales activities in your organization. We’re sure that you will see improvements in your team’s sales performance as a result of implementing a formal approach, cadence, and agenda. And since your reps will ultimately see an improvement in their performance, I’m pretty sure they’ll love you for it.

Want To Know What Makes A Good Sales Manager? Ask Google

,

Google observed and analyzed 10,000 manager interactions and found out what makes a good sales manager.

Google is the gold standard when it comes to using data-driven insights to make decisions. Constantly on the lookout for ways to optimize their business based on data, Google executives wanted to find out if there was a way that they could effectively engineer the perfect manager.

Google, like many companies, traditionally hired and promoted based on technical talent. But what did their research show? Of the top eight characteristics that make a good manager, technical expertise comes in last. What mattered more?

    1. Be a good coach
    2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
    3. Express interest in employee’s success and well-being
    4. Be productive and results-oriented
    5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
    6. Help your employees with career development
    7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
    8. Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team

Great Coaching Skills Make a Good Sales Manager

What really struck me about this is that the number one, most important skill that makes a good sales manager is to be a good coach. This is precisely the challenge that we’ve been solving for our clients here at CommericalTribe. We all know from experience that it’s not enough to just send your salespeople to training and then throw them at a list of prospects and hope for the best. Sales teams benefit most when someone takes the time to observe what they do, assess their performance, and then provide constructive feedback on what they did well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

In short, sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. Tweet: Sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. https://ctt.ec/Nh7ZU+ #SalesManagerDevelopment #SalesGoals

Our research shows that very few sales managers are very good at this. Why? Many companies don’t invest more than cursory training for our sales managers to develop their management and coaching skills. Without this investment in the development of frontline sales managers, your sales team is far less likely to hit their goals.

How often do you discuss how to be an effective sales coach with your managers? And how well do they understand how being a good coach fits into their daily interactions?

What Does it Take to Be A Good Sales Coach?What makes a good sales manager? Nature vs. Nurture | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement Solution

Being a good coach is all about getting people to perform at their best.

John Wooden, one of the most respected coaches in sports history who led the UCLA basketball team to win ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, said: “In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices.”

Great coaches don’t focus on the personal glory of the game and the fame of the win. They measure their own success by how much their team is able to achieve. This mindset doesn’t always come naturally to highly successful sales reps that have been promoted into management.

Sales leaders who want sales managers who are great coaches can start by specifically looking for characteristics that create good coaches in the recruiting process. When IBM goes into colleges to recruit, they look at the students with undergraduate degrees in areas such as psychology, counseling, and teaching. They find the ones that had even just a small amount of business acumen and point them toward career tracks in sales management.

IBM has been doing this for a long time, because they understood early on that good sales managers are good coaches. And good coaches guide people. Students who were interested in these types of degrees, IBM discovered, were usually inherently interested in guiding people and already exhibited the coaching characteristics that make a good sales manager.

Making A Good Sales Manager: Is It Nature Or Nurture?

What makes a good sales manager? Sales Team Success | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement SolutionTalent is something that people are born with, skill is something that is earned. Tweet: Talent is something that people are born with, skill is earned. https://ctt.ec/9adMR+ #SalesSkills #SalesManagerDevelopment

Some people are born with the characteristics that can make a great coach. But many, many others need to develop it.

Jack Welch, the celebrated growth CEO of GE, was not always the great leader we think of today. Early on in his career at GE, he was described in a memo from the head of HR as “arrogant, couldn’t take criticism, and depended too much on his talent instead of hard work and his knowledgeable staff” (Mindset, pg. 127). To his credit, Welch had the good sense to recognize this as a growth opportunity and worked tirelessly throughout his career to become a better coach and the leader we know and recognize today.

Developing great coaching skills requires commitment, work, and practice. If you want to develop your sales managers into coaches, you must first take the time to coach them and invest in tools to help them scale their coaching across their entire team.

You don’t need to have a team of statisticians on staff to understand what makes a good sales manager for your organization. You and your management team do; however, need to be able to observe and assess sales manager and seller interactions, to provide coaching. This observe, assess, and coach methodology is how sales teams continually improve in becoming better managers and closing more deals.

Download the Free Sales Manager Guide and Learn What Makes a Good Sales Manager | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement Solution

5 Steps to an Actionable Sales Manager Coaching Methodology

,

Our C.O.A.C.H. Sales Manager Coaching Methodology integrates actionable sales coaching into your day.

Recent research has proven that the number one skill that separates average managers from highly effective ones is coaching. While the leadership and management world at large has known this for quite some time, sales management specifically has largely been left out of this important development trend.

Because, as a sales manager, you operate in a fundamentally different environment from your management peers, you continue to lack serious coaching and development training in the context required to be successful. What you need is an actionable sales manager coaching methodology that works within the context of your daily life.

Our C.O.A.C.H. method is a sales coaching methodology for managers with a simple, yet actionable structure that provides flexibility for the realities of the fluctuating sales environment. It employs five simple practices that sales managers can easily integrate into their daily workflow: Commit, Observe, Assess, Communicate, and Habituate.

1. Commit to Coaching Opportunities

Assess & Coach Sales Team - 5 Step Sales Coaching Methodology | CommercialTribe Sales Manager SolutionThe job of the sales manager is inherently one of the most difficult jobs in the organization. Amid the chaos of your daily life, you’re now being asked to shift your thinking—shift the dynamics of the interactions you have with your salespeople—in a fundamental way by incorporating sales coaching. This is not something that comes naturally for many people, but it is a critical skill that can be developed with practice and commitment.

Committing to developing your own coaching skills includes actively seeking out coaching opportunities in every interaction you have with your team. You already have frequently scheduled meetings for pipeline and opportunity overviews, forecast reviews, activity management, etc. Within all of these interactions, coaching opportunities present themselves.

2. Observe Seller Behavior & Interactions

You can’t coach what you don’t observe. By observing seller behavior in their daily interactions with leads and clients, you are able to pick up on those cues that tell you where actionable coaching opportunities lie.

Sales managers often observe the interactions their reps have with clients and prospects during the sales onboarding phase. It’s less common to consistently observe more experienced seller interactions. This leaves a gap in your ability to continue to grow your sellers’ professional careers.

Observation isn’t just about watching for mistakes. It’s more about understanding the interactions that are happening every day between individuals on your team and your market. It allows you to collect insights into what is working well, what isn’t working well, as well as market trends that might affect your organization. This is information you can use to improve your team as a whole in addition to assessing and coaching individual sellers.

3. Assess Seller Performance

Assess Sales Team - 5 Step Sales Coaching Methodology | CommercialTribe Sales Manager SolutionMake an assessment of the seller’s performance you’ve observed. Did they start with an agenda? Did they keep control of the conversation? Did they build rapport? Did they establish next steps? These are the very basics of every effective sales call that you should be looking for in seller interactions. There may be additional assessment criteria for your sales process as well.

Take a moment to determine what the most critical elements of a sales call at each step of your sales process is and map them out in a spreadsheet. Then, assess each seller interaction on a scale from Not Present (red) to Excellent (green). We call this an assessment map, which we work with our clients to create to standardize manager and seller assessments and provide a clear visual path to which elements need the most improvement and which are “gold standard”.

Your assessment maps will help you determine specifically what areas individual sellers need coaching and development work in so you can focus your time with that person on exactly what they need to be successful.

4. Communicate Through Asking Questions & Active Listening

Using your assessments, you are able to identify exactly who needs what training, empowering you to activate as an effective sales coach.

In the communication practice of an effective sales manager coaching methodology, the seller does most of the talking. Your role is to ask deliberate questions and actively listen to the responses. If you are talking more than your sales rep, you’re not doing it right.

As part of CommercialTribe’s sales team development solution, we observe and assess thousands of manager-rep and rep-customer interactions for our clients. This service provides sales leaders and managers with unbiased reports that identify skills gaps and highlight “gold standard” performance. I was recently assessing a sales manager and seller interaction that illustrates our C.O.A.C.H. sale manager coaching methodology quite well. The sales rep was relatively new to the company and was working with a mentor who had taken him under her wing. The manager had observed a meeting that the sales rep and his mentor had with an opportunity recently.

Like many manager-seller interactions I’ve observed, the meeting began with inspection: what activities had the seller completed since they last met, what was his pipeline looking like, etc. Then, the manager shifted into a mentorship role, providing the seller with specific advice for some objections and issues he was facing.

Then, the manager did something that I rarely see during the first assessment. He asked the sales rep about the meeting he’d observed. While the meeting went well and they were able to close the deal, the manager noticed that the rep had let his mentor do all of the talking. He asked, “Why did you let Karen do all the talking with your contact?”

The rep replied, “Well, Karen knows the product better than I do. I didn’t want to step on her toes or say the wrong thing.”

This moment would have been lost (and often is) on someone who had not committed himself to seeking out coaching opportunities. But it was a great catch. The sales manager uncovered a development gap that otherwise could have gone unnoticed to create a great disservice for the sales rep in the long run.

Communication also includes establishing engagement through agreement. It’s not enough to simply tell a sales rep what their goal is. You must establish an agreement for next steps before ending the meeting.

The sales manager in our story could have said, “I want you to take the next sales call without Karen present.” and moved on. Instead, he asked, “What can you do to make sure you’re comfortable with the information to take the lead on your next sales call?”

The seller responded, “I can practice the pitch and do a roleplay with Terry to practice objection handling.”

“That sounds like a great plan. How many times will you practice the pitch before scheduling the roleplay?”

“At least three times.”

“Good. And when will you have this completed by?”

“By the end of the week.”

“That sounds great. Is there anything you need from me to help you?”

5 Steps to an Actionable Sales Manager Coaching Methodology | CommercialTribe Sales Manager SolutionSales coaching interactions take patience and practice to navigate successfully. However, the end result of consistently conducting meetings with your sales team in this way will produce far greater long-term results than taking the “easy” way by telling. The next time the seller in our story feels uncomfortable with messaging, will he wait until his manager asks him about it? Or will he take the steps he knows are necessary to make him successful?

5. Make Coaching a Habit

This last step in our C.O.A.C.H. methodology is critical for two reasons. First, developing a coaching habit will help you stay focused on becoming a great coach even during times of high production and stress. Second, it helps coaching become more effective as both you and your reps will grow more comfortable with the methodology and expectations, and will interact more thoughtfully.

Two keys to creating a coaching habit are to keep a consistent schedule of meetings that follow a fixed agenda and set expectations with your reps up-front.

You know you need to develop your coaching skills to grow in your own career as a sales manager, as well as to improve the performance of your team. The problem is that you are, understandably, overwhelmed and under-developed. While this has historically been caused by the chaos traditional in the sales environment, the reality is that you have to take charge of your own growth mindset to succeed. Use this simple sales manager coaching methodology to develop your sales coaching habit and create long-term, sustained revenue growth.

Learn How To Put the 5 Step Sales Coaching Methodology To Work | CommercialTribe Sales Manager Solution

25% of Your Qualified Opportunities are Wasted by Poor Sales Calls

,

Activate Your Sales Managers To Start Converting More Qualified Opportunities Into Revenue.

Tweet this: Qualified opportunities are the lifeblood of your company’s existence.

The dirty secret of most sales organizations is that many qualified opportunities are wasted by sales organizations that are relying on ad hoc management processes. Sales leaders in these organizations are living on a hope and a prayer that their team can close enough deals to keep business leadership from giving them the boot.

Increase Sales Productivity up to 23%

Research by CSO Insights has shown that by managing your team to a process can improve their productivity by a whopping 23%. Developing your front line managers to activate them as growth coaches for sales reps is key to executing this process management.

The dirty secret of most sales organizations is that many qualified opportunities are wasted by sales organizations that are relying on ad hoc management processes.

Start With Your Sales Process

It sounds obvious, but it’s striking how many sales managers don’t do the basics. The first step is to define your sales process, and then the hard part: make sure you and your managers are managing to it.

I’m mostly indifferent to what sales process and tools you use—each company and sales organization need to use what works best for them. I am not; however, indifferent to whether or not you use a sales process at all. Defining a sales process, or methodology, is critical to the success of your sales team’s ability to maximize pipeline opportunities. Without one, your organization will flounder and miss goals.

Without a management plan, your front line managers don’t have the tools they need to help their teams guide qualified opportunities through the sales pipeline to close.

While most companies and sales leaders know this by now, many fail to take the next step and formalize a management plan around their sales process. Without a management plan, your front line managers don’t have the tools they need to help their teams guide qualified opportunities through the sales pipeline to close.

Your Reps are Likely Bumbling at least 25% of Their Qualified Opportunities
Tweet: Your Reps are Bumbling at least 25% of Their Qualified Opportunities https://ctt.ec/ZjJwb+

All sales processes experience the most acute loss of qualified opportunities at the top the funnel. Conversion rates are much higher in the latter stages of the sales funnel. So, ask yourself, what would a 5% improvement in your conversion rate at the top of your funnel mean for your overall result? It would be pretty impactful, wouldn’t it?

In our experience observing and assessing thousands of sales calls for our clients, we’ve found that at least 25% of sales reps’ interactions with prospects and clients are what we would score as red. That means that even the reps that you have invested heavily in training for are not properly applying the characteristics of what makes a successful call.

That’s 125 opportunities every week that you would have been better off not calling at all.

If you have 100 reps on your sales team and each of them are doing just one discovery call per day, that means your team is collectively throwing away 25 qualified opportunities every day. That’s 125 opportunities every week that you would have been better off not calling at all.

And these calls are going to continue every day, week in and week out, month after month. Until you find yourself at the end of the quarter trying to shake down your managers to eek out those last few deals to meet your objective before the clock stops. And then you have to start all over again in the new quarter.

Said differently, you would be better off if 25% of your sales reps just stayed home and didn’t make a single call. Because they are literally just throwing away qualified opportunities before that opportunity has a chance to really learn about the value of your solution due to ineffective discovery calls. If we can simply improve your discovery call conversion rate by 5%, and maintain your lower pipeline conversions, the revenue impact will be impossible to ignore! So, how can you do that?

Click Here To Download Our Free Opportunity Managment Guide >>

Activate Your Sales Managers to Drive Qualified Opportunity Conversion

stop wasting qualified opportunities CT graphicYour front line sales managers are the key to impacting this target.

For decades, companies have focused on skills training for business development and sales reps to improve sales team performance. We like to send them off to sales training where they’ll learn the proper skills they need to develop their individual territories and close deals. Investing in our market-facing reps to teach them better sales skills, conventional wisdom says, will impact revenue attainment from the bottom up.

This conventional wisdom has ignored the sales manager’s role in coaching and developing desired behaviors in sales reps over the long-term to ensure they are applying the skills they’ve been taught.

Your front line manager is so key to the success of your sales organization, and yet they’re simply thrown into the deep end without receiving guidance on how to manage their team.

How much training and development have your sales managers received? How often do you take the time to coach and develop your management team?

Further, do they have the tools that allow them to observe their sales reps’ behavior during the discovery call? Do they have the means and mechanisms to consistently assess their reps when they do observe them? And do they have the skills and the tools they need to become coaches that can develop and grow a high-performing sales team?

Your front line sales managers’ job is untenable. They have been recently promoted from account executive to management. They have had little or no formal training and suddenly find themselves managing 11 direct reports. This team likely includes two open head counts, three new hires, one low-performer, three mid-performers, and two high-performers—one of whom is threatening to quit. They have to report their 90-day forecast. They have pricing, product, messaging, Salesforce, their managers… The list goes on.

Your front line manager is so key to the success of your sales organization, and yet they’re simply thrown into the deep end without receiving guidance on how to manage their team.

If you want to narrow the performance variance you’re seeing in your qualified opportunities conversions, you will have the most success in doing so by activating your front line managers as coaches and multipliers. And you will want to get them to first focus on coaching and developing their under and mid-level performers.

Improve Under-Performing Sales Rep Behaviors

You know as well as I do that no two sales reps are created equal. The performance variance is fairly easy to calculate, yet difficult to narrow. But if you’re looking at improving conversion rates at the top of your funnel, from discovery call to proposal, for example, under-performing reps are going to be the lowest hanging fruit.

This is because under and mid-performing sales reps are the most likely to be wasting qualified opportunities at the top of your funnel. Your high-performing reps are already moving at least close to an optimized number of leads through this stage, so the improvement increment there will be minimal.

Activating your front line managers to improve under performers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming.

Activating your front line managers to improve underperformers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming. Once they know how to do it—and have the formal tools and/or processes in place to enable them—much can be accomplished within their normal, everyday workflow. They are likely already getting face-time with their reps on a daily, or at least weekly, basis. They simply need to add an observational element to see what their lower-performing sales reps are doing versus high-performers, and then include feedback and coaching during those scheduled interactions.

Let’s take another look at the discovery call. Your high performers are likely exhibiting behaviors that we would rate as good or excellent in most, if not all, of these characteristics of an effective discovery call.

  1. Start with an introduction and set a clear agenda.
  2. Share a compelling, provocative, and insight-led company story
  3. Identify a key issue or pain point personalized for the person on the other line
  4. Provide a relevant solution to the issue or pain.
  5. Qualify and close for next steps

Your low performers, on the other hand, either lack the knowledge that these are the key steps to converting their qualified opportunities or they lack the ability to apply this knowledge.

In either case, their behaviors need to be developed and coached through consistent, committed observation, assessment, and coaching to move them up to higher levels of performance. Your front line managers can effectively do this if they have a formal management plan, and the training and tools to execute it, they need to be successful.

Is your sales team simply throwing away hundreds of qualified leads every month? You have the power stop the waste by defining your sales process and formalizing how your sales managers are expected to manage to it. Your front line sales managers are the catalyst to moving your under-performing reps to improve their behaviors and conversions at the top of the pipeline, where the majority of your qualified opportunities are churning. If you can train and develop them into effective coaches, their impact will be multiplied throughout the sales organization to improve goal attainment.

 

FREE OPPORTUNITY MANAGEMENT GUIDE Click Here To Download 

Why You Need A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

,

Develop your sales manager effectiveness program to improve efficiency and increase revenue.

You have a lot on your plate when you think about your enablement priorities for this year. Sales enablement teams are being tasked with a broad range of services and responsibilities, yet continue to have to negotiate for the resources they need to accomplish key priorities.

Most enablement teams continue to focus their efforts to improve sales efficiency, increase revenue, and improve forecasting on training and developing their sellers. But what if I were to tell you there was a better, more cost-effective, and more efficient way? I’m talking about establishing a formal sales manager effectiveness program.

Why You Need A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

sales manager effectiveness program-collaborationA strong management team provides the foundation for improving your sales team’s win rate, engagement, and retention. Sales managers who have been trained to effectively coach and develop their reps, as well as manage their productivity, are most effective at attaining revenue goals, improving sales team productivity, and retaining talented, driven salespeople.

The profitability implications for your organization should not be overlooked nor underestimated. And yet, few enablement organizations currently offer any training for sales managers at all. How could this be!?

Learn How To Establish Your Sales Manager Effectiveness Program with On-Demand Training Video & Downloadable Guides >>

How To Create A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

I believe the core of the answer to this question is that it is a huge undertaking for enablement teams that are already overwhelmed and understaffed. The underlying reasons for this is two-fold. First, there is a lack of clarity around how to create and implement a successful sales manager effectiveness program. Second, there is a lack of commitment to training and developing sales managers.

Sales and enablement teams need to be able to commit and agree to long-term development disciplines and goals to make the program successful. This commitment requires a desire to improve, a dedication to a learning & development culture, and the ability to build collaborative relationships between the enablement and sales functions. Unfortunately, I can not help you with this reason for not developing a sales manager effectiveness program. It’s akin to helping an addict kick their habit—you can’t help them until they are willing to help themselves.

But I can help you with the first reason. Since I know that implementing a formal sales manager effectiveness program can result in a huge win for your sales enablement team, not to mention have a significant financial impact on the overall performance of your company.

That is why I want to show you how to do it. Register now to watch our How To Establish a Sales Manager Effectiveness Program recording, presented as part of BrightTalk’s Sales Training & Leadership Summit. During this training session, I provide the roadmap to building your own successful sales manager effectiveness program.

http://commercialtribe.com/webinar-build-a-manager-effectiveness-program/

The New Sales Tool Stack

,

Think back to 15 years ago: sales tech was finally coming online, in-person meetings still ruled, and Salesforce was entering the market as a young challenger to the status quo. CRM soon became the foundation of the new sales team, driving easy alignment with the sales cycle and a stream of data that anyone could use to improve the team.

15 years later, the world of sales technology has blossomed. Along with improvements to Salesforce came a broad variety of new tools – CMS, data/analytics, lead generation, company databases, email tracking, and more. For a growing or existing sales team, the options have become incredibly complex, often with no clear path to growth or ROI. Each team carries its own toolkit, often with only a CRM at the core and a mix of other solutions supporting the organization.

Think of your toolset – if you had to remove every tool except the ones that directly lifted rep ability, what would remain?

traditional sales tool stack

What Changed?

The current sales stack, the set of tools that teams most often adopt, has a strong foundation: the Customer Relationship Management tool.

There is a fundamental difference between the impact of a CRM versus other tools on a team. A CRM, due to its organization and data-centric nature, sheds light on team performance as it relates to real data. Because it links actual sales results – new Leads and Opportunities or deals – to individual timelines, reps, or any other tracked metric, a CRM allows a team to get insight into their sales results and performance.

Other tools in the current sales stack are also crucial, but serve a different need: they are engineered to either scale or increase the productivity of these metrics, working on top of the CRM to improve the team’s existing efforts. The contrast comes in how these tools move the needle versus a CRM. While a CRM improves productivity by providing the team with data, other tools serve to increase operating efficiency. For most every tool, the team can expect an X% increase in efficiency and that their reps will able to do more with the same inputs.

But while these existing tools can squeeze more out of your team, they won’t improve the quality of the rep.

Lifting productivity alone is a fantastic goal, yet over time, it delivers diminishing returns. Tools that help reps send more emails, make more calls, and deliver more targeted content will improve productivity, but they will not improve the quality of the messaging or the ability for reps to articulate value and close more business. With poor quality messaging, feature listing, or even a limited understanding of the product, reps can be calling on accurate contacts and tracking sales cycle data without improving anything in their actual ability to convert. Productivity can only improve so much before lifts become smaller and less frequent.

What’s Missing?

While the CRM addresses how the team performs, and thus how productive they are, it does not necessarily aid a rep’s ability to interact with a prospect or win more deals. Likewise, existing toolsets can boost rep efficiency and productivity, but not what they actually say and do. This includes how well they understand and adopt core skills, messages, and behaviors, how they articulate these in the marketplace, and how often they can actually break the status quo to convert a sale.

The problem comes from any number of sources – high expense to lift rep ability, little time or support, lack of easy scalability, but addressing them promises higher returns and a more effective team.

New Sales Tool Stack

The New Sales Stack

To make change to rep ability, the new sales team toolset needs to include the opportunity for practice and alignment behind the skills and behaviors that will make for a better rep, one with the ability to articulate value at the moment of truth.

The new sales stack starts with investments in two core platforms: the CRM and practice-based sales training. Investments in a CRM address how you go to market, while dedicated adoption of a practice solution ensures you’re team is prepared to deliver when they get there.

When considering sales goals a quarter or year out, if reps are performing more efficiently in how they go to market, due to operational investments, but are at the same level of competence in the market due to lack of scalable training investments, then you’ve only nailed half of the productivity equation.

As more teams embrace a practice-based solution in parallel to core investments in CRM, they are beginning to see how practice ties to performance. When reps are challenged to adopt and apply new skills and behaviors, aligned with existing investments in tools that expand capacity, the modern sales enablement strategy has taken shape. No question the modern rep is more efficient than ever before, but they are also more effective in their ability to consult, influence and move prospects off the status quo.

On and Off The Court: How to Make Sales Coaching Work for You

,

Sales coaching doesn’t have to take you out of your day-to-day workflow.

As a sales manager, you hear a lot about the importance of coaching. Start with the fact that without effective sales coaching or reinforcement, 87% of training content is forgotten in 30 days. There’s even research out there to tell you how much time to spend on coaching! The sweet spot is 3-5 hours per rep per month with the typical manager expected to manage 8 reps and set aside on average 1 hour per week for coaching. The payoff is teams that exceed their goal by 7% on average.

free throw sales coachingWhile these stats may look great on paper, I can’t blame you if you look at them with a degree of skepticism. As a sales manager, there’s always a big number to run after, and coaching is the stuff that’s more likely to help you next quarter than this quarter. Coaching has unfortunately become one of those buzz words that your senior leadership loves to talk about, but aren’t really sure how to implement.

We’ve talked about the three flavors of sales managers: Sales Star, Pipeline Manager, and Coach. The first two skill sets are the most common among managers. After all – you’re in the role because you’re probably great with prospects and know how to manage a deal through the pipeline. But great coaches are rare. With the average tenure of a head of sales now as low as 6 quarters, it’s no wonder there’s so much tension between hitting the number today versus building a world-class team for tomorrow.

All that said, sales coaching done well has a proven impact for obvious reasons, but it can work better if we all acknowledge one simple fact. To use a basketball analogy, coaching is as much about what happens on the court as off of it. Sales coaching research tends to focus on what the coach should do with their reps, but what should reps be doing outside of those live coaching interactions? Are your reps shooting free throws?

Our entire education system uses the basic principle of homework. Why? One tried and true way of learning is having the learner put effort into absorbing what was taught. All else equal, more effort equals more learning. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”

Sometimes a teacher might even assign pre-reading, like a case study, in advance of classroom time. If everyone reads the case study, get ready for a great discussion where everyone learns. But when only a handful of people have read it…it’s going to be a long hour. The reason tests exist are to hold students accountable for the learning progress they are supposed to be making.

In a sales context, if the managers are investing all this time in coaching but the reps aren’t doing their part to prepare and practice outside of coaching sessions then the whole equation is broken. This is also known as the lose-lose box: high time-spend, low payback.

sales coaching lose lose grid

It’s not hard to see why most sales coaching programs are struggling. Most managers simply don’t have the tools to get better leverage on their time and ensure learning is actually taking place.

But today, there’s a solution. Video-based practice technology represents a transparent system of record for reps to practice key market facing messages and skills they need to be successful. Reps now can take greater control of their own learning by practicing at their own pace and intensity.

As a manager, you now get leverage on your coaching time, as you can assign practice or enforce practice assigned centrally, see who’s practicing and at what frequency. Effort matters. You can also do some of your coaching asynchronously – when it’s convenient for you. The truth is coaching interactions are more scarce than we’d like to believe, but what we do to impact learning outside of those interactions doesn’t have to be.

Any coach gives a lot to his team, but the hallmark of a great coach is that he expects just as much in return. It’s time for us sales managers to put the coaching equation back in balance. That’s something every sales manager can get behind.

Request a Demo