Research shows that companies who provide deal-oriented rep coaching to their sales teams can enjoy achievement rates of sales quotas by an increase of 11%.
With that in mind, too many companies shy away from providing real-time training opportunities and rely on salespeople to fend for themselves. As a result, conversions suffer, productivity decreases, and valuable leads go unfulfilled. In fact, 79% of all marketing leads are never converted to sales, and sadly, the culprit may be a lack of expert training.
If you feel that your sales team needs some inspiration or a new approach to building success, then here’s how you can overcome a variety of problems by turning your sales managers into world-class sales coaches:
Implement a Coaching Strategy
All too often, sales managers think that having routine check-ins with their sales team counts as providing a coaching strategy. However, a plan has to be put in place for real progress to happen.
For example, there are certain steps that must be followed to implement an effective coaching strategy that leads to improving skills and landing conversions.
Here’s a breakdown of what a holistic coaching strategy includes:
- Setting Goals: You can’t just set a quota and expect people to meet it. Instead, set clear goals that outline what needs to be achieved and help formulate a plan to accomplish it.
- Expose Shortcomings: If there are issues with a salesperson’s performance, you have to expose their shortcomings and develop ways to combat bad performance and behavior.
- Observe and Identify: This may involve mock phone calls or role-playing sales scenarios to identify where root issues live and how to begin correcting mistakes.
- Provide Correction: To fix sales problems, it’s best to implement learning activities that help sales reps put the correct action into place and get a feel for learning new methods.
- Final Evaluation: Once new standards are introduced, sales managers need to evaluate behavior and actions to ensure that progress is being made. This can be done through mock phone calls, listening in on sales calls, or repeating role-playing exercises.
With a firm coaching strategy in place, sales managers can start focusing on individual success, rather than making sure their salespeople know the basics.
Build Individual Success Plans
After coaching sessions prove successful, sales managers can build individual success plans for their sales reps to help put them on a better trajectory.
Most of the time, sales managers make a mistake by following sales performance data and comparing their team’s progress to results as a whole. Unfortunately, data solutions offer no support for individual success plans and instead focus on overall funnel benchmarks that don’t necessarily relate to singular efforts. Once again, sales managers cannot rely on quotas as a marker for high performance and selling behaviors. So, the only recourse is to develop success plans for each sales member and measure their progress according to a set of ideal standards. These may include things like…
- How many leads they gained each week
- What sources were leads captured from
- How many demos were given
- What kinds of engagement efforts did they use
- How many conversions were landed each week
Each team member should track a specific set of metrics that are set up by the sales manager based upon their individual success plan. From that, further efforts of online learning, conferences, one-on-one meetings, and training tools can be used to develop consistent progress.
Know the Right Diagnostic Questions
Even with these steps in place, some sales managers have a hard time deciphering and coming up with the right diagnostic questions in the first place to expose root issues.
Of course, there are fundamental metrics to follow, like meetings quotas, but beyond that scope lies an abundance of questions that need to be asked in order to find solutions. The only problem is that specific workflows for sales managers have to be adopted to cater to each sales member. Over time, the questions needed to expose shortcomings and identify and solve problems become muddled.
That being said, once an individual sales plan is created, make sure to document the process entirely so that sales managers can use each set of diagnostic questions as a model for other sales reps that join the team in the future. Think of it as a master spreadsheet that lists the kinds of issues salespeople face, what behaviors they exhibit that don’t work, what strategies made improvements, and what training exercises keep them sharp.
In the future, performance gaps can be closed much quicker and fast execution takes its place.
Make Learning Accessible
Despite how valuable training sessions and activities are to sales teams (given the scope of influence in the previous section), too many companies fail to make learning accessible for sales teams.
Needless to say, quick fixes or patchy sales training doesn’t correct bad sales behavior and execution in the long-term. On the flip side, the idea is to link the right training sessions back to exposed shortcomings so that the root issues can be solved right away, every time. Yes, the master template with complete schematics of what problems occur and how to solve them are good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that companies are investing in the right learning opportunities on a continual basis for sales reps to take advantage of.
That being said, sales managers need continual learning opportunities that they can extend to ther sales reps. This may involve attending sales conferences every quarter, bringing outside talent to host workshops and discussions, providing online training tools like classes and exercises, or offering program reimbursement for those who take initiative to learn on their own.
As long as sales managers are providing educational opportunities that drive success for employees, sales rep will feel appreciated and valued, which certainly inspires them to gain results.
Finally, a major factor to consider for the overall success of your sales team is the importance of accountability.
Essentially, implementing major shakeups that rely on sales managers to take initiative and provide strategic coaching requires the leader in question to make a solid effort. If they can navigate the field correctly and inspire sales reps to improve, then great! On the other hand, if they don’t take coaching strategies to heart and continue to resort to quotas and general funnel metrics, then accountability matters—someone needs to be responsible for the stagnation.
At the end of the day, it’s not enough to simply ask sales managers to make things better. Instead, you have to make the points above a top priority to drive necessary change. If for some reason they’re resistant to it, then consider bringing someone new on board who values it. If they accept the matter and make an effort to change course with new ideas, then support them with the right tools and resources to do it.
Remove Barriers and Build Success
Making major changes to your sales team’s infrastructure can be tough, but change is vital to removing barriers and building success.
As long as you reinforce your sales managers with support, they can guide your sales team to new strategies that improve conversions. More importantly, they can build your company’s reputation to a new level of authority and mastery in your respective industry.
Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.