Posts

How to Master Data-Driven Sales Management

,

A holistic approach to optimizing your sales team with data-driven sales management

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

~ Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers

In sales, it’s the close that gets all the glory. When that deal gets marked “Closed Won” and the gong is rung, for a bright and shining moment the people rejoice.

But, for most companies, making a sale isn’t a one-time event. That one shining moment was preceded by weeks or months of drudgery and hard work. That new customer was once but a glimmer in a sea of data and noise. Then they surfaced through an ad campaign or a cold call, and the struggle to reel the account in ensued.

High-performers make a habit of consistently executing each activity, no matter how inglorious, they need to move leads through the funnel efficiently and effectively. And frontline managers who use a formal, data-driven approach to managing and coaching develop more high-performing reps within their teams.

Some sales organizations focus on managing the activities of their sales teams. They set KPI goals on how many calls to place, emails and InMails to send, and connection requests each seller should complete in a given time period and track to that goal. Other companies focus on conversation management. They set specific standards for how sellers should speak during the discovery call, present the demo, and close to next steps and they track how well each seller stays within their set talk-track.

Truly forward-thinking sales organizations focus on sales manager development to optimize their sales teams. They recognize that the frontline sales manager is the catalyst to improving rep performance, and they take a holistic approach to enabling them with data-driven sales management tools and processes. This approach integrates tracking both activity and conversation data to inform their management and coaching interactions.

Data-Driven Sales Activity Management

leveleleven data-driven sales management_300pxSuccess in sales isn’t just about the close. It’s the consistent, collective activities that each member of your team must deploy on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to keep your pipelines healthy and active. Most of these activities get none of the glory, yet are the foundation of every successful close.

Activity management sets and tracks the rhythm of every sales rep’s day. It’s the number of new prospects, cold calls, emails, follow-ups, etc. that they must execute to guide potential customers through the funnel.

As Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven, puts it, “No matter how good you are at selling, you’re not spending all day closing deals. You’re spending 99% of your time on the behaviors and activities you’re hoping are going to lead to sales.”

Sales activity management provides the data your sales managers need to determine if their reps are performing these activities as expected. This activity data provides your sales managers with visibility into what their high-performers are doing with their time, versus the activity of their mid or low-performers.

Visibility informs your sales managers on how to coach reps to improve the level of activity they need to perform in order to be successful. Data-driven sales activity management also helps sales organizations track and determine what activities create value for your company (and your customers) and which ones do not.

Data-Driven Sales Conversation Management

commercialtribe data-driven sales managementActivity data is critical to improving your sales team’s performance, but it is not the complete story. Conversation optimization closes the gap that is created between efficiency and effectiveness. If two of your reps are making the same number of phone calls and sending the same emails, yet one is outperforming the other by 20%, what is the cause?

Data-driven sales management isn’t just about inspecting activities logged in Salesforce. It also requires cracking open the conversations your sellers are having with prospects and customers to understand where gaps exist within these interactions.

In fact, on average, your reps are wasting 25% of their qualified opportunities once they do get one on the line. This trend is due to several factors

  1. Lack of defined sales process and messaging
  2. Lack of data-driven sales management development and coaching
  3. Lack of a formal sales management cadence

Data-driven conversation management enables sales managers to help their reps make every sales interaction count. It gives managers powerful insights into what their teams are saying and doing within their activities. And it helps them identify what areas each rep needs coaching in to improve each conversation. It also provides your sales organizations with critical intelligence into what your high-performers are doing, so you can apply what is working well to the rest of your team.

Optimize Your Sales Team

A holistic approach to data-driven sales management uses both activity and conversation management systems to give managers and leaders the best view of what variables improve performance—and how to apply them to shift the middle.

Taking a data-driven approach to formalizing your team’s sales management processes helps build a healthy pipeline, optimize pipeline velocity, and gets your team to goal. Contrary to average sales teams, where each quarter is a mad dash to the finish line, data-driven sales teams consistently sustain quota attainment and revenue growth into the future.

Data-driven sales management is not a one-time event but requires continued observation, measurement, and coaching to develop the behaviors that get your team to goal. The good news for today’s busy frontline sales manager is that sales technology now enables data-driven sales management more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

Data-Driven Sales Management Cadence Blog CTA XL

CommercialTribe Case Study | Pure Storage Sales Manager Enablement

How Pure Storage Structures Sales Manager Enablement to Accelerate Growth

The Company

Founded in 2009, Pure Storage is a leader in the enterprise data storage industry. Pure Storage provides companies with an end-to-end data platform powered by innovative software that is cloud-connected to mobile devices. The company’s all-flash based technology, combined with its customer-friendly business model, drives business and IT transformation with solutions that are effortless, efficient and evergreen.

The Challenge

Pure Storage Sales Manager Enablement ChallengePure Storage has experienced massive growth since its inception, but with that comes growing pains. Pure Storage works very hard to hire, retain, promote, and train top talent in a dynamic business environment. As the sales team grew to meet demand, sales leaders hired or promoted sales managers with little formality to the sales management process. While most growing sales organizations focus on training their salespeople, frontline sales managers in need of training are often overlooked.

Dan FitzSimons, U.S. Vice President of Sales at Pure Storage, is a rare breed of sales leader who believes in the multiplicative effect that great coaching and development can have on a team. As business boomed, he quickly recognized that the traditional sales modus operandi of riding star sellers, only focusing on late-stage pipeline, and ad hoc management processes simply was not tenable.

“It’s not that my managers did not know how to manage their teams. They’re all experienced and highly capable sales managers,” explains FitzSimons. “We wanted to focus on how we could help our frontline managers become more effective through consistency and formalized management processes.”

“We wanted to focus on how we could help our frontline managers become more effective through consistency and formalized management processes.”

~ Dan FitzSimons, U.S. VP of Sales

Sales managers in every company and industry are incentivized to hit their number each quarter. This short-term pressure can make it difficult for managers to invest in long-term team development and pipeline management. As a result, rather than building pipeline and getting involved early in the cycle when there is a better chance of improving outcomes, managers focus on late-stage deals. The problem with this mindset is that, when there isn’t adequate early-stage pipeline continuously built, eventually the well runs dry.

Soo Masson, Director of Sales Enablement at Pure Storage, understands this issue all too well. In her years of experience in sales operations and enablement, she has personally experienced the havoc that ad hoc sales management processes can cause in an organization.

“We were running on all cylinders and business was great,” recalls Masson. “But Dan and I both knew that we needed to build more structure around the frontline manager role to really set our team up for success in the long-run.”

Emblematic of a truly progressive sales organization, FitzSimons and Masson partnered up to tackle this issue by aligning sales and enablement strategies. In the short run, they wanted to create a method through which frontline managers resist the tendency to solely focus on late-stage deals and short-term outcomes, without dramatically affecting compensation or incentive structures. In the long run, they envisioned investing in a system to help frontline sales managers develop their teams and create a sustainable pipeline and, in doing so, secure the future of the sales team—and Pure Storage.

The Solution

Pure Storage Sales Manager Enablement SolutionEvery company has a sales process, and most have a sales management process. But very few have a structured sales management methodology that develops frontline managers into effective coaches and mentors. FitzSimons and Masson knew they needed to develop a formal, consistent sales management methodology that would enrich the pipeline, develop the sales team, and equip FitzSimons’ ten sales managers to be effective coaches. To accomplish this, they wanted a two-tiered approach that would give frontline managers a methodology to manage performance, while creating a mechanism ensuring continual improvement in that effort.

After doing their research, Masson and FitzSimons brought in Jay Tyler Consulting and CommercialTribe to provide an integrated solution that met their needs. Jay Tyler’s Leading Sales Excellence instructor-led training is an in-person workshop focusing specifically on teaching frontline sales managers a prescriptive Field Management Process and calendar cadence, enabling them to become more effective leaders. Leading Sales Excellence teaches leadership skills resulting in a sales-driven culture and establishes frontline management priorities. Ultimately, the goal of the workshop is to embed the Field Management Process in the field with specific cadences around pipeline reviews, forecast reviews, quarterly business planning, and field travel.

In alignment with the Leading Sales Excellence methodology, the CommercialTribe platform serves as the vehicle for Pure Storage to evaluate how well their frontline managers apply the training in the field and continue to improve. CommercialTribe enables visibility into the sales force’s calendared activities and provides an unbiased assessment of behavior improvement of over time. To begin measuring how well sales managers were applying their training, FitzSimons focused on assessing his managers’ ability to conduct pipeline reviews.

“The pipeline review is such a critical part of keeping both managers’ and sellers’ focus on sustainable pipeline development, and yet it’s commonly a misunderstood interaction” explains FitzSimons. “As a result, pipeline reviews often lack consistency and devolve into a deal review where late-stage deals are the focus, rather than focusing on the health and activity of the full pipeline, particularly in the earlier stages.”

Working with FitzSimons and Masson to execute on the critical characteristics of a Pure Storage pipeline review, Jay Tyler Consulting and CommercialTribe partnered to create the assessment criteria of an effective pipeline review. This assessment maps the critical points in a successful 60-minute pipeline meeting. It includes meeting agenda guidelines, action items, and detailed observable attributes that measure a manager’s coaching skills.

The partnership then established a baseline for applying the skills taught in the Leading Sales Excellence workshop in the field. Each sales manager recorded and submitted one of their pipeline review calls using the CommercialTribe platform. CommercialTribe used the assessment criteria to produce a “heat map” report on each individual manager’s performance and the management team’s overall performance. This report established a performance baseline for FitzSimons and his managers with specific, actionable feedback to inform coaching and development to improve pipeline review meetings.

Frontline sales managers were given their individual scorecards and one month to practice and improve their pipeline review meetings. Because of the baseline gap analysis, FitzSimons also knew exactly what areas needed improvement, which informed his coaching of his sales managers.

“Our enablement team invests in instructor-led training of all types, but it is extremely difficult to track participants’ progress after training and measure the results. With Jay Tyler’s Field Management Process and CommercialTribe, we created a system that has a visible, measurable impact on the performance of our managers.”

~ Soo Masson, Director of Sales Enablement

The Results

Pure Storage Sales Manager Enablement ResultsOne month later, FitzSimons’ sales managers submitted a second pipeline review call for CommercialTribe to assess. Using the same assessment criteria from the baseline assessment, CommercialTribe provided FitzSimons and his team with structured, measurable results and insights into the performance of the management team.

Overall, the progression assessment found that 60% of managers improved. Even more impressive, 100% of participating managers had measurably mastered key attributes of an effective pipeline review, such as providing specific feedback, building professional rapport, and mentorship. The largest measurable improvement showed that 90% had now mastered active listening, pressure testing, providing specificity in recommendations and establishing action items.

“Our enablement team invests in instructor-led training of all types, but it is extremely difficult to track participants’ progress after training and measure the results,” explains Masson. “With Jay Tyler’s Field Management Process and CommercialTribe, we created a system that has a visible, measurable impact on the performance of our managers.”

Perhaps most importantly, FitzSimons has effectively been able to make 1 + 1 = 3. By aligning a field management methodology with technology that supports, measures, and evaluates the results, he has the system in place to develop his team’s sales management skills that will lead to long-term pipeline health. The investment Pure Storage made in the development of their sales managers will pay dividends for the growing organization for years to come.

Pure Storage Sales Manager Enablement Builder

About Pure Storage

Pure Storage provides companies with an end-to-end data platform powered by innovative software that is cloud-connected to mobile devices. With Pure’s industry-leading Satmetrix-certified NPS score of 83.7, Pure customers, which include organizations of all sizes, across an ever-expanding range of industries, are some of the most satisfied customers in the world.

Learn More About Pure Storage

About Jay Tyler Consulting

Jay Tyler Consulting has designed seven leadership development programs, each specifically targeted to different levels of an organization to inform world-class leadership and maximize business results. Jay Tyler’s proven methodology for unlocking the potential of frontline sales management is delivered through interactive workshops, one-on-one executive coaching, and mentoring.

Learn More About Jay Tyler Consulting

About CommercialTribe

CommercialTribe is the standard SaaS platform for developing and coaching sales teams to improve performance. The platform enables observation of selling and management behaviors at scale, makes it easy to assess with consistency, quality, and timelines and provides insight and direction to activate coaching.

Learn More About CommercialTribe

Do Your Sales Managers Need A Motivation Makeover?

,

How Core Drives Can Deplete Or Increase Sales Manager Motivation

This guest post was originally published on yukaichou.com: Why Sales Manager Motivation Needs A Makeover

Previously, we explored the core drivers of motivation in the sales organization and why our traditional coin-operated, compliance-driven sales culture may finally be ripe for disruption in Why Seller Motivation Needs a Makeover.

Conventional wisdom suggests that we place more training and development emphasis on the seller. Look no further than the budget spent on training sellers vs. managers. In this article, let’s explore why the frontline sales manager is actually the key to change, their current sources of motivation, and how to disrupt the status quo to build a sustainable revenue generating machine.

Sales Managers’ Complex Task List

Most sales managers started as great sellers. Then, they are promoted into a management position where we expect them to gain a completely new skill set than the one that made them a successful seller overnight. Here are just a few of the common tasks sales managers are expected to perform on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis:

  • Field Travel or Joint Calling
  • 1on1s and Team Meetings
  • Forecast Reviews
  • Pipeline Reviews
  • Deal Reviews
  • Account Plan Reviews
  • Territory Plan Reviews
  • Win / Loss
  • Quarterly Business Reviews
  • Performance Reviews
  • Hiring and Recruiting
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • Training

The sales management hierarchy uses Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance to drive compliance and ensure these tasks are happening on schedule. Are our reps doing effective discovery? Join the sales call. Forecast needs to roll up. Better vet it. Is a key deal we’re forecasting to close qualified? Deal review time.

We expect managers to perform these tasks. But doing them well…that’s another story. Try sitting in a forecast review and you may be less confident about the forecast, but you will learn more about that particular seller’s upcoming weekend plans!

Don’t Miss Your Quota

Managers, like sellers, are on a variable comp plan. But, instead of being responsible for one quota, managers are responsible for a team quota. The average sales manager gets about 50% of his sellers to goal, but that is not going to cut it. So how do sales managers make plan? Most managers have a couple stars they can count on to overachieve and maybe they even sell a few deals themselves.

The quota system relies on Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience as managers race to capture their earnings opportunity for the time period before it evaporates. It’s no wonder busy sales managers feel justified abandoning some of the tasks we previously explored that don’t help them draw a straight line toward delivering their number this quarter. For everyone in the sales organization, the short-term pressure to hit quota can feel overwhelming. What’s a sales manager to do?

Overreliance on Black Hat Core Drives is Fatiguing

sales manager motivation burnoutCore Drives 6 and 8 are Black Hat, making us feel obsessed, anxious, and addicted. While they are very strong in motivating behavior, in the long run, they leave us feeling fatigued because we feel like we have lost control.

For the sales manager, this often means managing their team feels more like a game of Survivor than a successful career. When half of your reps are underperforming, you have an open headcount and one of your best sellers is threatening to quit, it can feel like the job never ends. It’s no wonder managers are left feeling overwhelmed and underdeveloped. As a result, the tasks we expect them to perform to help their team hit quota are either sub-optimized or abandoned entirely.

Getting More Of Your Sales Managers To Plan

The sales manager role has gotten far more complex over the years, but we are still using the same motivational drivers to try to achieve our goals. With today’s millennial-minded sales manager who is looking to be developed and not just hit a number, these forces threaten to either burn people out or churn them out of your organization entirely.

Sales and enablement leaders need a thoughtful plan to counteract these forces that drive long-term engagement and skills mastery. These are known as White Hat drivers. White Hat drivers make us feel powerful, fulfilled and satisfied. It may sound obvious, but consistently getting more managers to plan relies on getting more sellers to plan. And the only reliable way to get more sellers to plan is to develop your sales managers into coaches.

Light The Coaching Fuse

We’ve all had a coach at some point in our lives. When effort meets opportunity it feels like anything is possible. That’s what it feels like to be coached. On the flip side, coaching has its own rewards. Phil Collins said: “In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.”

Use Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling, to help your sales managers realize their higher purpose beyond just delivering their team quota. The best way to tap into their inner Tony Robbins is to coach the coach. Observing sellers in action to provide coaching is commonplace through joint calling or even field travel, but for some reason, we don’t apply the same philosophy to our managers. Help them realize their calling by sitting in a one-on-one between manager and seller. Don’t talk, just listen, and then use this observation to coach the coach. Coaching your managers to become better coaches will light the motivational fuse that reminds them why they became a sales manager in the first place!

Learn More About Yu-Kai Chou’s Octalysis Gamification Framework for Improving Behavioral Design & Team Engagement >>

 

Give Your Sales Managers A Choice

sales manager motivation coachingTo many, coaching is one of those disciplines that is way more art than science. But if you are going to democratize coaching for all your managers, you will need to demystify what the best coaches in the world do intuitively.

Use Core Drive 3: Empowerment and Creativity to not only get all your managers on the same page but also make them feel enfranchised in the process. To do so, look no further than the list of activities expected of sales managers we discussed above. I’m sure you have a point of view on what should happen during those activities. Build a list of criteria.

Now here’s the magic: Put those criteria in front of your sales managers and let them choose which criteria matter to them. What they choose may be different than what you intended but by giving them a choice, they are FAR more likely to use them to coach their teams.

Time for Your Motivation Makeover

The Black Hat core drives that motivate sales manager behavior aren’t going away anytime soon. And even the White Hat techniques discussed won’t be sustained without becoming part of a larger system that makes managers feel like coaching isn’t such a deadlift each time.

Think about what drives motivation for your sales managers. Is it time for a sales manager motivation makeover? Try integrating these White Hat techniques into a quarterly plan focused on improving one interaction within the team’s workflow. For your sales managers, the goal is to establish a system that puts sales team development on autopilot.

BlogXL_Improve Performance_Autopilot

 

Top Sales Technology Solution Providers of 2017

,

CIO Applications Magazine announces the top 25 sales technology solution providers of 2017

Nicholas de Kouchkovsky’s 2017 Sales Tech Landscape notably includes over 700 sales technology providers organized into 32 categories (up from 300 in his first edition, published in 2015). It’s astounding to see how far the sales technology industry has come in just a few short years! Management of the sales tech stack is proving to be, understandably, complicated for sales organizations large and small. In his article, de Kouchkovsky illustrates:

“I have vivid memories of a well-known company sharing at an American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) meeting that its inside sales department was using more applications than having people!”

(de Kouchkovsky, Sales Tech Landscape 2017: Making Sense of 700+ Players)

sales technology solution CIO MagazineCIO Applications Magazine steps in to help Chief Innovation Officers (CIO) make informed sales technology purchase and integration decisions for their own sales organizations. In reviewing this burgeoning industry, CIO Application Magazine’s review panel of CEOs, CIOs, and VCs selected just 25 vendors most capable of providing the best sales technology to fulfill management needs. The resulting Top 25 Sales Technology Solution Providers list helps CIOs provide value to the business by enabling a smarter, more productive sales organization through innovation and technology.

See The Full Top 25 Sales Technology Solutions Providers List

CommercialTribe is honored to be included in this list. Our continued commitment to improving sales manager development through our platform and services solutions uniquely enables sales teams to achieve above average quota attainment. We fully believe that activating frontline sales managers as coaches is the next big key to sales performance enhancement. That belief has, and continues to be, validated through the work we have pioneered in partnership with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the world.

Request a Demo

How To Improve Sales Productivity With CommercialTribe

, , ,

Improve sales productivity by improving the performance of your sales managers and reps.

Anyone can become a salesperson, but very few are actually good at it. True professionals are always on the lookout for how they can improve sales productivity. The ability to take those that have chosen to become not just great salespeople, but great sales managers and leaders, and give them the tools they need to improve their craft is why the team at CommercialTribe gets out of bed every day.

The reality of the sales profession is that the “make it or break it” mentality is what is keeping sales organizations from attaining the next level of sales productivity. Our big idea is that we can improve sales productivity by moving sales teams into a sustainable world where people are being coached and developed on an ongoing basis. A world where sales teams reach their maximum productivity not by waiting for the next improvement in CRM technology, but through the improved effectiveness of each of their interactions.

Becoming a great sales professional is just like becoming great at anything. If you want to become a guitar player or basketball player, you practice your craft. You practice every day, and you put your practice to the test by performing in concerts or games. In a quota-driven environment, the ability to hone your craft as a salesperson is compressed. You have to get to performance level fast, and you have very little time in your schedule to do it. You need a tool that enables practice, reinforcement, and feedback to get you to your goal.

Founded by sales executives and built by reps for reps, CommercialTribe has a broad set of observational modalities to capture reps in both simulated and live environments. This gives sales managers and leaders visibility into critical interactions that they are currently blind to and provides reps with a clear path forward to improved performance.

Learn how you can improve sales productivity with CommercialTribe >>>

CommercialTribe Case Study | HubSpot Sales Team Development

HubSpot aligns sales and operations with CommercialTribe to put the measurement of development of their SMB sales team on auto-pilot.

HubSpot is the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales software company. Founded in 2006, the company has grown to serve over 34,000 customers in 90 countries and employs nearly 1,800 people across seven offices, with hundreds of sales team members worldwide.

HubSpot is renowned for its strong company culture and commitment to promoting from within, which has been key in supporting the significant growth the business has experienced over the years.

The Challenge: Developing a Young Sales Team as They Sprint for Monthly Quotas

Mike Pici, Director of Sales for HubSpot’s SMB sales team, oversees eight frontline managers, who each manage around ten sales reps. The team is mostly made up of young sellers led by a group of first-time millennial managers.

If you think that the sprint to the end of each quarter is a challenge, get this: Pici’s team operates on a monthly quota system. His team of roughly 70 sales managers and reps reset the clock every 30 days. This pace makes it very difficult to spend time developing junior employees and first-time managers because everyone is working to get to the finish line and hit the number.

As HubSpot continues to broaden its platform with innovative new products, Pici’s team needed to evolve their process. It became increasingly essential to be able to conduct high-quality discovery calls to ensure reps understood prospects’ needs and could accurately position HubSpot as the solution to their problem. As the business continued to grow rapidly, this discovery call—the Inbound Growth Assessment (IGA) in HubSpot vernacular—increasingly became an area of focus as a vital step in the sales process.

Mike Pici is a new breed of sales leader. Though his team works hard and he deals with the constant pressures of reaching monthly quotas with a young and developing sales team, he is still committed to carving out time to develop his people. However, like many sales leaders who believe in development, Mike continually grapples with having to re-invent the wheel on where and how to develop his team.

Channing Ferrer, the VP of Sales Operations & Strategy at HubSpot, was experiencing Mike’s pain from the other side of the office. Channing and his operations team conducted a study to determine the fundamental attributes and skills of a successful HubSpot sales rep. While he knew that attributes and skills were indicative of what makes a great sales rep, he did not have a mechanism with which to measure an individual’s strengths and weaknesses against these parameters. Nor did he have a clear path forward to coaching and developing the skills the team needed to gain the attributes and skills they needed to be successful.

Both Mike and Channing needed a systematic approach to pinpointing skills gaps, coaching for improvement, and measuring progress.

The Solution: Establishing a Sales Team Development Program

When HubSpot partnered with CommercialTribe, they found a solution tailor-made for developing sales teams.

Working with CommercialTribe, Mike focused the development of his sales team on improving the IGA. The IGA was a relatively new piece of the sales process, as HubSpot has been shifting from solely selling marketing automation to including their sales platform in the product mix. The IGA intends to frame a bigger customer problem and how HubSpot’s broad solution can address that pain.

CALIBRATE

HubSpot-Sales-Team-Development-BaselineCommercialTribe worked with both Mike and Channing to develop a customized assessment map that accounted for what Channing knew were attributes of a successful HubSpot sales rep with what Mike cared about specifically for running a successful IGA.

This calibration exercise also built trust between Mike and Channing’s departments to ensure that the attributes were correct and the assessment would be adopted by all parties.

BASELINE

Within two weeks after the assessment map was built, the sellers on Mike’s team had submitted a live recording of an IGA call for assessment.

CommercialTribe’s baseline assessment returned results that confirmed Mike’s hypothesis that there was room for improvement on the IGA call. While the team overall was certainly market ready, there were specific areas that, if improved, could make a significant impact on conversion rates at the top of the sales funnel.

COACH

Now it was incumbent upon Mike and his managers to take action. The baseline assessment produced insight into where to coach, but now they needed to put those insights into action during team and 1-on-1 coaching sessions.

CommercialTribe provided coaching guides for Mike and his management team to formalize coaching interactions with a clear and constructive agenda. The coaching guides led managers through the agenda to review the baseline assessment with their reps and align on what makes a great IGA. They would then discuss what the rep did well and where they could improve. Last, they would discuss and agree on actions that they could take to close the skill gaps.

Managers also used CommercialTribe’s “highlight reel”, which contained a different seller demonstrating a given attribute from the assessment map in 1 to 3-minute snippets. Sales reps and managers were able to view and return to the highlight reel on their own time and during coaching sessions to reinforce what an excellent IGA should look like.

“The value of the unbiased 3rd party assessment was huge,” describes one of Mike’s frontline sales managers. “Separating the assessment from coaching allowed us to coach constructively and focus on the fundamentals of great sales conversations by getting back to the basics, like focusing on why setting an agenda matters.”

“Perhaps one of the most surprising and rewarding moments for me,” shares one frontline manager, “was when a veteran rep who was very difficult to engage in change responded positively to the experience and we were able to open up a new coaching dialogue.”

PROGRESSION

HubSpot-Sales-Team-Development-ProgressionWith the baseline results in front of them and coaching delivered against strengths and weaknesses, Mike Pici’s team was ready to submit their IGA calls for a second performance assessment.

Simply put: Mike’s team got better at delivering the IGA.

More specifically, the team’s IGA improved by 22% overall. The team saw huge gains in setting an effective agenda, focusing on differentiation, and delivering an insight. Mike used this opportunity to pause and celebrate with his team, calling out a few cases of exceptional improvement. One team improved by a whopping 44%, three sellers received perfect marks, and five achieved over a 50% lift in their IGA delivery.

The Result: Sales Team Development on Auto-Pilot

Channing and Mike expect to see this improvement show up in his team’s ability to build early-stage pipeline, an area that is hard to get management focus on given the monthly quota system at HubSpot.

“By providing them with clear insight and direction, busy sales managers can now see where and how to coach the key behaviors that move our pipeline forward,” says Ferrer.

The development of a sales team doesn’t begin and end within a quarter but is an on-going commitment to continually improve. “Once I determine where we want to get better, there is a system that puts the measurement of development of my team on auto-pilot,” says Pici.

With the Inbound Growth Assessment call clearly improved, Mike Pici will now turn his attention to the next development area for his team. A quarterly development calendar has been built using a menu of interactions, including not only developing how his reps interact with customers but also how his sales managers interact with their teams.

Could a 20% improvement in the effectiveness of your sales team benefit your organization?

Put the development of your sales team on auto-pilot when you subscribe to CommercialTribe. Request a demo today!

About HubSpot

HubSpot is a leading inbound marketing, sales, and CRM growth stack. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 34,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. HubSpot Marketing includes social media publishing and monitoring, blogging, SEO, website content management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics. HubSpot Sales enables sales and service teams to have more effective conversations with leads, prospects, and customers. HubSpot CRM helps sales teams organize, track, and grow their pipeline. All three platforms integrate right out of the box and are available for free to start.

Learn More About HubSpot

About CommercialTribe

CommercialTribe is the standard SaaS platform for developing and coaching sales teams to improve performance. We create an environment to unlock the potential of every rep and manager to get better—every quota carrying year—by intelligently observing reps in multiple selling scenarios, constructively assessing their behavior, and providing managers with clear coaching paths to close rep development gaps—and improve their coaching skills.

Learn More About CommercialTribe

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 Bumbling 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 

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