Virtual Sales Coaching: Helping Frontline Managers Elevate Team Performance – Sales Enablement Soirée, Summer 2020
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CT: Welcome to our panel on Virtual Sales Coaching: Helping Frontline Managers Elevate Team Performance. This is such a relevant topic today. So, I’m really excited to hear about what all of our panelists have to say about executing coaching virtually since oftentimes coaching happens in person for a lot of sales reps.
So, if I could get each of our speakers to just introduce yourself, your name, your company, let’s start with Josie.
JM: I’m Josie Marshburn. I am CEO of Sales Enablement Benchmark. It is a management consulting firm that specializes in sales and sales enablement effectiveness. Prior to this, I ran global sales enablement organizations at Oracle and VMware and spend my entire career in technology sales.
AE: My name is Aaron Evans. I’m the director of sales enablement for a company called Global Data. and we have the fastest growing data analytics company on the London stock exchange.
GT: I am Gordon Thompson, I run pre-sales and enablement at MindTickle. I’ve been with MindTickle coming up on a year. Prior to that, like Josie, I spent most of my career in enterprise applications. So 26 years of enterprise applications across three startups and then I also did a 15-year stint at Oracle as well, on their CRM and their ERP enterprise applications group.
GK: Greg Cashin. I’m the chief product officer at Brainshark. And at Brainshark we have solutions for customer facing teams for a customer facing learning, coaching, as well as, scorecards that assess the performance of all of the customer facing people on the team.
CT: I am excited to talk about this topic with you all. So, we’ll just jump right into the questions. We did a recent report on sales enablement analytics, where we found that 42% of organizations either have ad hoc coaching or just no coaching at all. And so, I would love to hear from you on kind of, how do you ensure that there is consistent coaching for your sales reps? Aaron let’s start with you.
AE: Just to unpack that, I suppose there’s two issues for me and coaching is very much a two-way dance. So, a lot of organizations spend a lot of money and time and resource on coaching, which is great. Cause we want more of that in any organization, we’re trying to create a culture of coaching. But the other side of the coin is hiring people who are coachable. I think where a lot of organizations make the mistake is, they hire people and go let’s coach them. When in actuality, we want to start right in that recruitment stage just to see if they have that self-awareness, that metacognition, that base intelligence, the ability to implement feedback quickly and accurately, and get to the end result.
So, I’m always cautious of just talking about coaching as if it’s a business’s responsibility. It’s also a responsibility of checking for coachability. But when it comes to coaching itself, I agree if you have, what did a few organizations where it’s almost been an afterthought, it’s sort of like a hot topic that every business needs to coach about really understanding the disciplines or the fundamentals of coaching. And for me, it falls into two really distinct camps coaching, particularly in an organization with, with international focus, with lots of multiple offices, with lots of different ranges in roles.
The first thing you need to look at is the competency that you’re coaching on. So, you build backwards from the competency for each role. So, you find out what are the core skills, or core knowledge banks, or behaviors that you’re looking for in each individual, in each role. And then you laser-focused target coaching on those specific things. And that isn’t just sales enablement that does that coach. And it should be from the very top right down to the bottom of the organization.
The second part of that, which I think is probably the most prevalent and ultimately the more, useful coaching day to day is at desk coaching. Which is reps coming up to you with questions, reps coming up to you with only one specific thing on agenda that they want to discuss and having the ability to calmly, with a lot of patience, coach reps through those issues. That is very, very, very important. And for me it starts straight away from the manager. If we can test the manager, upskill them manager, and certified the manager on what we’ve deemed to be the right type of coaching behaviors. And also, the right type of outcomes that we’re looking from that coaching with a really robust feedback mechanism and a checking mechanism as well.
You were putting yourself in a better position to make the coaching more meaningful. My experience in some organizations is that a lot of coaching is wasted because we see really good quality coaching. We’ve no real tangible outcome or a specific task or action. What needs to be completed and also sort of checked in on the standard of what they’re doing as well afterwards.
And that should always drive the coaching session next there’s what did they do? How did they do it and what were the outcomes? So, so again, just to sort of summarize and all that, I think it falls into a few things, is checking for coachability very, very early on. Even as early as the recruitment process, upskilling the managers to the, what we deemed to be the right type of coaching, whether that’s coaching or coaching against competencies, and then making sure that there’s really strong follow through. That’s basically twinned with the overall strategy of the organization as well. So, we’re really targeting that coaching and getting the best possible outcome out in the back of it. My answer is not disciplined in the errands.
GT: First thing you have to do is define what good looks like, right? So, you’ve got to come up with a competency matrix, a rubric on what are the different things that you want to coach on that you feel that you need to coach on? It can’t be just deal specific. So, first line managers typically like to get into the guts of a deal and go into the minutia of an account plan, close plan, all that stuff.
You also need to be coaching on soft skills. So, objection handling, negotiation skills, storytelling, presentation skills, all those soft skills as well, need to be coached for the sellers.
Then, probably the second thing I would say is you have to coach the coach. A lot of first line managers are in their positions because they were the people that were making their quotas for the past four or five years. And they were rewarded with this big team that has a quota associated with it. And typically, the VP of sales says, good luck, Godspeed. And so, they’re just kind of left out there trying to get deals closed. And then becoming super reps, they’re not coaches. So, you can get it and you’ll get variability building on your first line sales managers based on their experiences as well.
So, if they’ve had a good experience with coaching in their past, they’re probably pretty good at it. If they’ve never been coached before, how do they know how to do it? So, I think you have to coach your coaches. And lastly, I think the VP of sales needs to be hands-on at the beginning of this shadowing sessions, looking at the coaching sessions and understanding what their first line managers do well and what they don’t do well so that you can make them better at that.
I think lastly the coaching has; it’ll be a good experience for the seller. If it’s just a complete beat down and it’s not fun, no one’s going to want to be coached. Right. So, it’s got to be a pleasant experience. You got to have constructive feedback as well as good feedback. So, you’ve got to mix the two together. And I think if you create that culture of coaching and the sellers actually get something out of it, meaning they’re doing their jobs better or they’re selling more of their pipelines getting better, or they’re closing deals faster. They see that value out of the coaching. They’ll come to they’ll come to the coaching sessions and want to be coached.
CT: Kind of shifting gears a little bit here to talk about the kind of environment that we’ve all been working in in the last few months, since so many of these coaching conversations that we’re talking about are happening online, they’re happening virtually. So, I’d love to hear any advice that you have for how sales leaders and enablement practitioners can continue to facilitate really effective coaching, but virtually, Aaron, did you have any thoughts on this?
AE: It’s been a really interesting journey. I think probably for all of us, it’s something I’ve noticed in our organization is that those interactions that you’d have day to day with, with reps are gone because they can’t come to your desk or you can’t see them in the lift or you can’t catch them in the water fountain.
So. You need a lot more structure with your coaching. And I’ve been working with a lot of our managers on this at the moment is putting time aside, diarize time aside with reps to actually coach, to sit there and just coach them. and I guess that’s one part of it is being really, really clear about that.
We’re going to put this time aside to do that. the other part, obviously there’s a lot of technology that can help you do this along the way as well. Right. So, I think like one thing that we’ve done recently is we’ve, we’ve. Made a massive investment in Saudi Arabia technology by using products like Gong.
Right? So, the focus that that can give you on the coaching becomes far more efficient. Like historically, if you look at call listening that you do with a rep, as an example, you could be there sitting there for an hour on a call trying to find the bit you’re looking forward to really target in on that particular thing you’re coaching on.
Whereas with something like Gong or another one of those products, it becomes laser-focused on that particular thing you’re coaching on. You can find within a couple of seconds what it is and have an outcome at the back of it, which is really, really powerful. So again, I think like, I don’t think that there’s a panacea or a silver bullet for what we’re going through with COVID-19 the fact that we’re working remotely.
But I think when I keep saying this to managers, is that make sure you’re making time to just coach your reps, not a performance review, not a pipeline review, put aside half an hour or an hour a week with your rep where you can just coach around certain issues or certain things that the rep wants to bring as an agenda as well. With that tweak with great technology that can make it effective and efficient. You should have better outcomes at the back of it while we’re going through this difficult period.
CT: Absolutely. Josie, I’d also love to hear from you on this as well.
JM: So, one of the great things about all of us working remote right now is that mostly for meetings or through video conferencing, like we’re doing.
And one of the great features of the video conference scene is simply recording our conversations. I think most prospects and customers are pretty open to the request when you make it early on in the conversation of, Hey, do you mind if I record this call? And I think if you would start a culture of always recording calls then and using some of the other technology that Aaron mentioned, it’s a wonderful way to really start developing a coaching program, if you don’t have one.
One of the best things that you can do is when you coach consistently. And the best way to coach consistently is to either, if you can’t actively engage in a call with your rep, listen to the calls afterwards, technology like Gong and reading, and there’s a number of other techniques.
And he’s one of the really cool things they do is they have AI built into them. And the more you feed the call into that tech technology, the better and better it gets at helping the reps see what good looks like. What are the questions that your prospect is responding to in a positive way? How many questions did you ask? How much time did you talk versus your prospect? All of those great things are really wonderful thing to start a coaching conversation around. And the more positive we can be in the conversation. Yeah. The more excited somebody is going to be to seek us out and ask us for help with coaching. I also love Aaron’s thoughts on making it consistent. If you don’t set time aside every single week for coaching, and I don’t mean deal reviews, forecast calls. Deal reviews are not coaching and they should be separate. But if you can have really thoughtful conversations around, Hey, here’s all the groups, things that you did on that call and let’s use this tool to help you get better. Then somebody is going to be really excited about using the technology and taking the session and getting the most out of it.
GK: So, there’s a couple of things. One is that in the scenario where most of the reps are working remotely, the importance of tracking performance metrics is kind of greater than ever. You don’t have managers that are in the same place as the reps. They’re not doing customer meetings together and they’re not in the same location when inside sales reps or are making calls or anything like that.
So that makes it a lot harder for sales managers especially to gauge overall how their reps are really doing. What we recommend is that managers take a look at the KPIs that their so being measured on to assess whether somebody is having an issue and if so, what it is. So, that type of diagnosis and looking at the metrics consistently allows managers to direct their energy toward the people that are going to need the most help and also, the parts of the process where they need the most help. The other thing that kind of goes along with this is that when you’re not running one-on-ones and coaching meetings in person the act of sort of taking notes about those conversations and keeping track of those is also critical.
So, when you’re remote, a lot of times there’s a little bit less responsibility felt by the reps. Sometimes they feel less connected to the business and what their goals are. Keeping track of these conversations, keeping track of any action items that come up, what the short and longer term goals are for that rep, those are all very important to make sure that people are making progress and that managers are holding their reps accountable to the goals and objectives. So, managers should definitely be setting good, realistic, but productive goals for their reps, communicating effectively and then measuring them objectively and frequently.
So instead of looking at your metrics on a monthly and quarterly cycle, you probably want to be looking at them daily and weekly to really maintain that connection.
CT: Along that line, really talking about virtual coaching, it presents its own challenges as well. So, I would love to hear about what some of the common challenges that organizations face and then how can practitioners, how can enablement really navigate those challenges? So, Josie, I’d love to hear from you again on this.
JM: You know, I think one of the biggest challenges, number one challenge that most sales organizations have face is that they don’t have gene culture. It’s got to start from the top down, and most don’t do it. Most call coaching some kind of a deal conversation and that’s not right coaching. So, I think that you have to start with building the culture within the organization. You have to make it part of the DNA at every level in the organization, not just first line managers. And then you’ve got to teach him how to coach people don’t inherently know how to coach coaching is like mentoring.
If you don’t have a mentoring program within your company, people don’t know how to be a good mentor. They don’t know how to be a good coach. So, I think that’s where you really start is by making it part of the culture and making it part of everything that you do on a regular basis at all levels.
AE: I just want to elaborate on a point, actually I think, I think Josie point is absolutely spot on particularly around supporting people with coaching, right?
So, giving them the skill sets to do it, and I’ve always found this fascinating and it’s kind of builds on a point that Gordon made earlier as well around. In silos, you get pushed into a job that you have a completely different skillset for just because you’re good at selling. And for me, organizations should be spotting very, very early these fundamental leadership skills like coaching.
So, we’ve spoken a lot about our culture of coaching, and I do want to expand on it in a moment or two, but if we’re spotting someone who’s really, really good at asking those questions of shine, that curiosity, that inquisitive inquisitiveness through coaching. The business should be nurturing those people to be part of the next management cohort.
But what’s really interesting. And I’d love to hear the other guys on this, because for me, this is like, what are the most rewarding things you can have in our roles that we have is when you realize that someone has automatically learned how to coach. So, what I mean by that is that you’re, you’re used to coaching someone.
You’re used to getting them thinking about things through questioning, really targeting good quality questions. And then one day, they return the favor on you have a question, they ask you and they start natively using coaching because of the way you taught them to think about problems. And when that happens in an organization, it honestly brings a tear to my eye, because you realize that actually it is culture. The more that you do this well, the reps actually learned to do it. And you realize you’re teaching people how to think. Not what to think, how to think. And it’s so powerful and I’d love to hear the other guys on that as well. Yeah.
JM: So, the one thing that I love the technology for is to also show what good looks like. So, Aaron, to your point there are people that are natural coaches. And let’s record those people. Let’s share those conversations with other people so that we can start learning from each other instead of having to feel like we have to come up with it all on your own.
CT: I love that all the points that I’ve been made. Gordon, I see you nodding as well. Did you have anything to add to this point?
GT: Yeah. I mean, so I’m obviously I’ve worked for one of the technology companies, so I don’t want this to be a commercial. Obviously know, I do believe the technology is a great enabler for pushing this stuff out. And we had this concept of creating a culture of learning.
Right. It’s Irving has to come before skills development before coaching, right? So, it’s like a progression. And you know, what we advocate with our customers is crawl, walk, run, right? You can’t just jump to code Jean. You’ve got to start with creating that culture of learning and then people will see the value in it. They’ll perform better. You can correlate back to causation. It sounds execution side, you do school and skills, roleplay. And then the coaching I think is kind of the last frontier, right? Like how you hone those skills real time with your sellers and to Aaron, why when people see good and they understand how they’re learning, they’ll replicate it themselves, and they’ll start coaching amongst their peers. And before you know, it, everybody’s supporting each other and is like, Hey, I had that problem. I learned it this way. Here’s what I did to correct it. And then all of a sudden, you’re sharing the best practices, that come out of these coaching sessions that you lift the entire team up.
CT: We’re going to shift gears a little bit here, and really talk about how different sales reps respond differently to different coaching styles. How do you tailor different seller personas, or tailor your coaching to different seller personas? Gordon, I’d love to hear from you on this.
GT: Yeah. So, I think there’s a couple of points to make here. I think we’re in a work environment today where there’s four different generations of workers. And having come from Oracle, which I will call old school because I’m one of those, I can say that. And then moving into a Salesforce ecosystem where and I like to use this term digitally native workforce. Right. You know, the people that are coming out of college today grew up with an iPhone in their hand. And they’ve been digitally aware since the beginning.
So, I think it’s super important to understand what motivates your sellers. You know, every seller should be motivated by dollars. Otherwise you shouldn’t be in sales, but some people are motivated on recognition. Some people are motivated on advancement, career advancement. Some people are motivated on club. I had a rep tell me one day he was like, I wake up every morning and I try to figure out what I’m going to do in the next eight hours that’s going to make me go to club this year. Right. So that was what motivates me.
So, understanding what motivates them focus on their strengths. You know, there’s a book called “Strength Finders” I really am a big fan of, but you know, if you look at AEs pipeline, deal execution, negotiation, they’re not going to be good at all three of those things. They might be good at two of them. So, don’t spend your time there. Let’s focus on where we can coach them and make them better. And one of the other areas is you’re being efficient with the way you’re coaching them. And then I guess lastly one size doesn’t fit all. To my point, there are four different generations of workforce today. You’re going to have to understand what motivates people, their work ethic. You know, what’s important to them and then hone your coaching on those important factors for them.
JM: Aaron mentioned this early on there are people that are coachable and there are people that are not coachable, and it doesn’t really matter the technique that you use with somebody who’s not coachable.
There are some really great assessment tools that you can use in the hiring process to know if somebody is coachable and to the degree in which they’re coachable. And if you did something like that through the hiring process, you would be hiring people into the company that inherently will accept coaching and will welcome coaching.
And if you do that in the beginning, you’ll build the culture. If you hire people in that are not coachable, no matter what you do, no matter the technique you use, they’ll resist it all the time.
AE: I think exactly what Josie said is that it’s actually a really good peek into their mindset. if people aren’t coachable, what you find is that they’re often resistant to change.
But you know, they don’t always tow the company line when changes need to be made or when certain things need to happen. Now, as coaches, sometimes I get a bit carried away because I see it as a great challenge. More often than not, it doesn’t end the right way because if you think about that matrix of like right results, right? Behaviors, the ones that are not sharing the right behaviors, but getting the right results. They never lost. They get very bored in the role. Have luck runs out their territory, dries out. What you’d much rather have is people are always demonstrating the right behaviors because we know the right results will come as long as you’re coaching them the right way.
But another point you made, which is really interesting around technology during the interview process. I think people, outside of technology, listen, basic interview techniques that need to be used by organizations just to check this, like asking reps about how to, I think things have gone, what they would do to change it. If they could change it, what would they do? Get them into implement that feedback? Why checking the metacognition or what do you think give you in the interview process? How do you think this interview has gone? Like simple tricks like that? We’re going to elicit the answers in the rep to show you just how well they think about thinking.
And that’s fundamentally what it is that understanding of self-awareness to make change and implement the feedback. That’s all it is. And if you can do that in an interview process, you’re golden, because you can always train a skill. You can’t always try and cut your minutes.
CT: So, I think that we, kind of, our next topic here is kind of around again coaching in the digital world and how coaching can really be expanded in the digital world. So, what are those opportunities that you have to expand coaching virtually and what are the kind of, how has virtual coaching really made it easier, more effective? Aaron, I’d love to hear from you on this.
AE: It’s been around forever virtual coaching. I mean, I’m someone who has worked like these guys for organizations with multiple geographies, right. If that’s the case, sometimes you have to use virtual coaching as a way of doing it. Now, for me looking someone in the wants and the eyes where they’re in the room is the most powerful way of doing it. In my opinion, particularly when you consider things like English as a second language for some people that we coach, coaching is in itself asking some very interesting and difficult questions that some people might not even understand.
So, I think for me, face to face is always better, but executive coaching over virtual has been around forever. The one thing that it does give you, which I think which Josie spoke about before, is that it’s undivided attention. Sometimes when you’re in an office and you’re in a room people walking past, or their emails going off, you don’t get the undivided attention.
You have to create the environment for them to feel really comfortable to open up. Usually when you’re doing a coaching session, it’s online. It’s because you’re doing a coaching session. You often get less distractions. You often get undivided attention. And at the back of that, the quality of the coaching can be better. However, I don’t remember. People agree with me. I’d much rather be in the room with them there on the benefits of kind of virtual coaching.
CT: I think it’s a great topic for especially these days is where we’re all kind of pivoting to remote and virtual work. So yeah, Josie, I’d love to hear from you on it. Any thoughts on it?
JM: You know, the first thing that comes to mind for me is this for anybody who has a territory where they used to travel, or anybody who had a position where they traveled, all the sudden you have so many extra hours in your week. Right. And so, to maximize on those extra hours in ways that can benefit yourself, benefit your team.
I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. I was talking to somebody the other day about; they’re just trying to decide whether they wanted to use video technology and selling. And I thought it was so comical that somebody considering this given that video technology has been around since the 1920s. And so, I think by now it’s pretty perfected. it’s certainly a great way for us to interact when we can’t be in a room. I agree with Aaron, I would much rather coach in a room. I’d much rather coach across from you, but when it can’t happen, using really amazing technology can aid in that. And you know, one of the great things that we talked about is some of the coaching tools that are available and those coaching tools, not only give our managers the opportunity to record a call or record what good looks like, they can use them for challenges. Challenge your team on something and make it a contest and make it fun.
Give regular feedback and make sure the feedback is positive. People respond to positive feedback. People don’t respond to coaching when it’s negative feedback. And I think that’s something really important to keep in mind is that if you want people to be receptive to the feedback, make sure it’s about the good things that I do. And over time, the trust will be built so that you can get a little more specific on some areas of improvement.
GT: A lot of ways we have been doing virtual coaching since the beginning of time. Right. So, it’s just a lot more formalized into Josie’s point leveraging technology to make it more formal and more documented. And, I would say virtual coaching isn’t a single event. It’s a process. So, it’s something that happens over time and it can happen in different ways. I remember going out in sales calls and riding back to the airport with my coach and like, what did we do? Well, what did we do wrong? What could we have done better?
You know, that’s a form of coaching that happens informally as you’re rushing to the airport to go catch your flight. so, I think it’s, I think. What we’re doing now is just leveraging more technology to enforce it and formalize it. But it’s something that I think we’ve been doing digitally for a while and I think it’s something that has to be consistent. It has to be predictable to Josie’s point. It has to be a pleasant event. It can’t be like, Oh God, I’ve got to get a recall for my boss again. He’s just going to ring me out and just tell me everything how bad I am and hurt myself esteem. That’s not what this is about, right? It’s about building people up and seeing outcomes from it.
CT: We talked earlier about how there are so many organizations that they don’t have coaching programs or its ad hoc, where they just don’t exist. I’d love to hear about how, where can people start? How can you start building out a coaching program at your position? Josie, I’d love to hear from you.
JM: You know, during my time at Oracle, we implemented a coaching program, and it’s interesting a company the size of Oracle did not have any kind of coaching program for first line managers. And the way the program came about is that we started developing some really great training for our reps. But what we realized is that training wasn’t being reinforced because we were leaving the managers out of not only the training, but also so the conversation around coaching. We developed these coaching programs that were really a reinforcement of the training that we were doing. I actually, if he had talked to me about it at the time, I would have said, Oh, nobody’s going to show up to these things.
And then they were the most requested sessions that we did. And they were not only the most well attended, but every time you finished up a session, anybody in the room said, can we go a little bit longer? And I thought it was fantastic. And what we would do with them is we would not only teach them what we taught the reps, but then we would teach them different techniques on how do you coach that? How do you have that coaching conversation? And that’s just really how we started it with them. And it became just a really great program that we were able to expand everywhere. So, I think when you’re not doing it in the beginning, you’ve got to teach people. Like, how do you go, how do you have a good conversation? How do you, what are the elements of that conversation? If you start there I think you can start a fostering a culture where it permeates throughout the whole organization.
GT: Where do you start with the coaching culture? I mean, I think you have to start with your coaches. you got to make sure that they understand what coaching looks like how do you execute it?
You know, my experience has been specifically in the se organization and in the ways that I’ve worked with over the past, a lot of times you tend to focus on the positive stuff and at the end of the conversation, I’m like, okay, now tell me the bad stuff. Right. Did people want to understand what they could do better?
And you know, as a coach you might think it gets uncomfortable. Cause you’re like saying you don’t do X, Y, and Z well. But at the end of the day, so to Aaron’s point earlier in the conversation, you need to have people that are coachable and the ones that are coachable will ask that hard question. So, tell me all the bad stuff I do. If you can create that type of freeform conversation between your coaches and your sellers, I think it makes it a better experience and people will want to be coached. it’ll just feed off from there.
AE: One thing that, I’ve learned in a few businesses I’ve worked at now is it has to happen at a companywide level, is deciding what the right thing to do is. As an example, me and the other coaches on this call now could coach you on how to bake a cake. And we’d all come up with completely different ways of doing it. And you, as someone who’s being coached would be like, what’s going on. I’m getting conflicting advice from everyone.
So, a really good place to start is deciding what’s our sales process. What’s our sales methodology? What’s the right way of doing things? What’s our sales operations look like? And then everyone is coaching the same thing. And it’s the right thing. The real danger you have, and I’ve seen this a few organizations, are that managers at times can create little empires and they can create salespeople in their image. And it’s not always the right way of doing things.
So, it’s really important that the business says here is the right way things. So, we have that yardstick, we have that kind of measurement that we’re looking towards and we’re all being coached the same way. So, the first thing you have to do is decide on what you’re coaching. And then, so the point of the other guys, and I think they’ve articulated absolutely perfectly within me through the same thing with them coaching.
How do you come up? How do you coach them? How do you elicit the right response from someone? How do you give feedback and country? How do you document feedback? How does that work with like HR and again about defining the yardstick of what good looks like and how you run that process. And then lastly, I guess the key around it is that consistency with it across the board, is that it doesn’t matter on the role that you’re coaching, doesn’t matter on the different type of sales person or person in the sales organization, you have to be consistent in the way that you do it.
And lastly, and I love it. I think Josie summed it up perfectly is that, yeah, it has to be fun. And one of the best ways of making it fun is being passionate about coaching. A lot of people give up because it’s bloody hard. It can be infuriating. It can be time consuming. It can be really difficult, but when you crack coaching as a skill it’s, without a doubt, the most rewarding thing that we do in our jobs. And I’m pretty confident the other guys work either because you get to see the penny drop every single day and see someone learn and progress. And that ultimately turns into someone getting better at their job every single day, who would not want to do that. It’s crazy. Right. So again, just to sum it up, I’d say that they’re the things that I’d look out for.
CT: So, we’ve actually found that the most common measurement for sales coaching success is call scoring and evaluations. So, I would like to hear about just some other ways to effectively measure coaching success. Greg, I’d love to hear from you.
GK: Okay. I think the things you really want to be looking at are the impact of what it is that coaching I’m doing to the results that you’re really trying to drive? So, if somebody is doing better on the phone calls that they’re having, then what are the corresponding metrics that should be improving in the sales process as a result?
Most likely these are going to be things like more opportunities are being generated because the, the rep is communicating the value prop better, or it could be larger opportunities being created or further along in the sales cycle, it could be a higher win rate, a higher average sales price, or a faster sales cycle.
So, it depends to some extent on which parts of the process you are coaching the rep on and what you’re scoring the rep on in the call. But really you want to be measuring those parts of the sales process to make sure it’s actually having an impact to the business. I’d say in particular, it’s more of the effectiveness metrics that should be improving if the quality of the calls is getting better. So, you might not be producing a larger volume of stuff, but the quality of opportunities for instance, that you create should be better. So, you should be seeing downstream improvements in either your average sales price, your win rate, or your sales cycle. So, if the rep is having high quality conversations, there’ll be doing more with the leads that are being passed and also doing more with the opportunities that they’re creating and therefore either winning more winning bigger or winning faster.
And you definitely want to make sure that you are tracking these KPIs and then measuring the changes over time. So if reps are making incremental improvements daily and weekly on the calls that they’re having with prospects and customers, then over time, those things will manifest in the performance metrics. Might take a little while for them to wash out depending on how long your deal cycles are but certainly, those are the things that you should be measuring to see if they’re having an impact.
CT: That’s all that we have for today, but we do end every session with leaving our audience with a key takeaway. So, I would love to hear from everybody about if you could leave one takeaway for our audience today, what would that be? Let’s start with you Josie.
JM: One takeaway from me is if you do not have a coaching program today, start one, start one with the basic start one with just getting on calls with your reps and listening to the conversation. If you can just start there, you can build on that as building blocks.
GT: So, I guess if I had one takeaway, we’ve kind of emphasized this throughout the session. And that is I sincerely believe that First Line sales management is probably one of the hardest jobs in software. You have all the responsibility, they have all the accountability, they carry the quota.
But you have to have to work with a myriad of different skill sets on their team. And so how do they coach in that? How do they make basically not becoming super to their team because that just doesn’t scale? So teaching, teaching your first management, how to coach, I think is super important, do not assume that they can, you can coach observe and be hands on with them as they’re embarking on their coaching journey.
But I think if, if you can create that coaching culture, first management, you’re going to see dividends on the backend with sales execution.
GK: I think the key takeaway is it’s harder to feel really connected with the team when you’re remote. I would encourage everybody, like I said, to set good objectives, measure those. And then as people are achieving those objectives and you can see the results, then you can kind of come together in whatever way you come together on a zoom or wherever else and celebrate those. But if you’re not setting the objectives and then measuring them, people can feel a little bit distant from what you’re doing.
So, it’s worth the time and energy of putting some thought into what the metrics you want to track are. The goals are with that and make sure that you hold people accountable to them, but also celebrate when you achieve milestones.
AE: Yeah, I think it was Einstein that said not all that’s counted counts and not all that counts can be counted. And that’s exactly what coaching is. Is that a lot of organizations see, is there sort of a theory or thing that’s nice to have, but quite the opposite. Every single organization should have coaching. It makes reps better. It makes them stickier in the job. It makes them want to be there. It creates our future leaders and it directly affects revenue.
There isn’t a line that says, this line item here generated this much revenue, but I can guarantee now that if you don’t have continuous the organization as a culture, you will not make because much revenue does not how good your product is, how good your salespeople are. You will not make as much revenue.
So, my first piece of advice would be really drive it throughout the organization, make sure that everyone understands the importance of it. Even if it doesn’t have a direct result on revenue, as it seems.
CT: Thank you all for joining us for this panel today. Thank you to our speakers. I think this discussion has been absolutely fantastic. With that, we are going to go ahead and open it up to Q and A. So, feel free to type any questions you have for our speakers today in the chat below.