Improving Rep Performance With Consistent Coaching
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Practice makes perfect, and coaching can make that practice possible. Coaching in sales can not only help reps reach their personal goals, but consistent coaching programs can also enhance a team’s overall performance to drive impact on the company’s core business goals.
Enablement becomes an essential partner in sales coaching by holding managers accountable to coach and holding reps accountable to change their behavior. By operationalizing coaching, enablement can ensure that it becomes a repeatable process for managers to help reps grow and improve over time.
While enablement is a key partner in driving coaching consistency and quality, the responsibility to coach often falls on the manager. As such, it’s important that managers are not only adequately prepared to be effective coaches but also that their feedback on their needs for coaching can be taken into consideration in the design of programs. In fact, teams that regularly collect manager feedback on their coaching programs report a 10-percentage-point increase in average rep quota attainment.
“If companies are not investing the time, the money, the energy, and have the stakeholders involved to make sure that a coaching foundation is sustained, no company can continue to grow to the level they want,” said Keith Rosen, author and CEO of ProfitBuilders. “Coaching is the only way for managers to accelerate the sales growth, engagement, and trust amongst their team.”
Through creating a structured sales coaching framework, facilitating a regular cadence of coaching sessions, and continuously refining and measuring the effectiveness of coaching programs, enablement can partner with managers to deliver coaching that aligns with their needs and enhances sales outcomes.
Creating a Structured Sales Coaching Framework
Coaching is a critical component of any successful sales organization because performance can always be improved, whether applied to brand-new reps or those who are more seasoned. However, creating a consistent coaching framework that can easily be implemented and practiced can be a challenge.
Sales managers are often under a lot of pressure to hit their targets. Unintentionally, this can actually hinder their ability to coach the skills their team needs to improve. For example, when a crucial deal is at stake, a sales manager may want to jump in and take over the call instead of providing the coaching needed for the rep to understand what they can do to help influence the outcome of that deal.
Enablement can partner with sales managers by providing a structured sales coaching framework they can follow to help support them in coaching their reps. Enablement teams can step outside of the deal and focus on curating the best coaching strategies to help reps solve problems and drive better results.
“We support leadership with a playbook and a very clear understanding of what the essential steps along the customer journey are, training and storytelling, the most common objections, and how you would anticipate those,” said Elena Beletsioti, sales enablement manager at Yokoy.
Facilitating Regular Coaching Sessions
As priorities shift and buyer habits change, it’s essential that sales organizations can adapt well. As deals move through the sales cycle, and as time is of the essence, many sales managers may feel they do not have the bandwidth to facilitate proper coaching sessions. Enablement can ease this challenge by ensuring managers have ample resources and support to make a habit of coaching in every conversation they have with a rep.
“The definition of coaching is the art of creating new possibilities, and you’re doing that in every conversation,” said Rosen. “In every conversation, you’re either building people and their competence, or you’re building their critical thinking as well as their critical questioning skills, because salespeople will need to coach their customers today, or you’re eroding them.”
While structured coaching programs can help guide managers through how to facilitate effective coaching sessions, leveraging those techniques in recurring, informal sessions can also help reduce the perception that coaching is a time burden. Meanwhile, it also helps to create a culture of coaching so that reps become used to the expectation of continuous improvement.
Measuring Coaching Effectiveness
Enablement can provide the insights managers need to improve coaching effectiveness and see what exactly is working to replicate best practices. Developing a scoring model can help teams know what key performance indicators to look for, what to benchmark, and what to coach against. There are several different metrics to look at, for example, tracking sales manager feedback, behavior change in reps, team performance as evaluated by managers, or competency improvement observed by managers.
Enablement can identify trends within a rep’s performance to understand where they can be coached to increase their performance and work with managers to achieve greater alignment on what good sales coaching looks like. Enablement can help establish expectations, collect best practices, and create more consistency with how managers coach their reps and deliver feedback. For example, 31% of teams report they collect data from call evaluations to assess the impact of sales coaching. Tools such as conversation intelligence can help managers leverage this type of data to show reps what good looks like in a real example of a conversation with a customer.
“We have insights where we can coach reps on their calls,” said Lauren Metheney, manager of sales operations at Blend. “We can learn if they’re talking too much, see what questions they’re asking, hear how they are asking those questions or how they handle objections, and so on. We work with the managers to leverage these insights so they can track progress as we coach the sellers.”
Enablement can help managers deliver consistent, quality coaching to regularly drive improvement in rep behavior and enhance sales proficiency. When coaching becomes a critical part of a manager’s role in helping their team succeed, performance can naturally improve.
“You can’t ask how you will fit coaching around all of your other responsibilities,” said Rosen. “You need to ask how you will fit all of your other responsibilities around coaching. And that’s the fundamental mind shift every leader needs to make today.”