The evidence for the positive impact effective coaching can have on sales performance is now so pervasive that there is virtually universal agreement about its benefits.
Effective sales coaching is so integral to success in the modern sales force that enabling sales managers to become effective coaches is the single most important initiative for the sales enablement professional. And yet, while many have tried, relatively few have succeeded at enabling world-class sales coaching, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Any organization can develop world-class sales coaches by following these four simple steps.
1. Adopt a Comprehensive Sales MethodologyCoaching that simultaneously drives rep development and sales performance depends on a comprehensive sales methodology that everyone adopts. When managers and sellers don’t agree on the characteristics of a qualified opportunity, how a compelling presentation should be organized, or how buyer’s concerns should be handled, they don’t improve their skills. They debate their approach. To help managers become world-class coaches, sales enablement professionals must implement a sales methodology that:
- Everyone agrees represents the best approach to engaging prospects and customers
- Has application across all buyer-seller interactions
- Has a clearly defined competency model for all key skills
- Is supported by short-form, online learning content that can be assigned to address specific skills gaps as they are identified
2. Certify Managers on the Sales Methodology and Coaching ModelWe cannot simply train managers on sales methodology; we must help them become experts. Then, we must implement a coaching model that allows them to leverage their expertise to benefit their salespeople. While there are numerous “coaching models” that can improve how managers provide feedback, there are relatively few that help managers develop the skills and knowledge of their people. To achieve the latter and drive sales effectiveness, the coaching model must help managers diagnose performance and execution gaps to determine their root cause and assign learning activities that address the identified root cause. More on this type of coaching model is found at tinyurl.com/axiom-guide.
3. Provide Coaching ToolsThe third step is to provide managers with the tools to consistently execute the coaching model and drive a cadence of continuous improvement. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to certify managers on the sales and coaching models. We need to equip them with tools that allow them to execute effectively. At a minimum, the coaching tools should provide the company with data and insights on coaching effectiveness while helping managers:
- Capture, save, and share the details of their coaching conversations.
- Diagnose any performance or execution gaps to identify the root cause.
- Define learning activities to address any identified skills or knowledge gaps.
- Assign and track the completion of these activities.
4. Add Coaching Metrics to Senior Leader ScorecardsThe fourth and final step to implementing an effective coaching program is incorporating coaching metrics into senior leader scorecards. Unfortunately, many organizations skip this last critical step to the detriment of their program. If senior leaders don’t establish coaching targets, measure coaching effectiveness, or evaluate coaching and rep development metrics with the same rigor they apply to other performance measures, it will ultimately be deemed less important and may eventually die of benign neglect.
Effective sales coaching is arguably the most transformative habit a sales organization can develop. These four steps can help any sales enablement leader implement a program that drives rep development and business outcomes, providing the organization with a sustainable competitive advantage.