Category Archives: Sales Coaching
The B2B buying process has changed considerably in recent years, thanks to digital and social technologies. But, the one constant that can open doors or shut them forever is how well the sales professional performs in the moment of human interaction with the buyer.
Because the sale is truly made in those moments in front of the prospect and in the execution of compelling customer dialogues, there is still a great need for improvement in this area among salespeople:
Only one in ten executives say that they get value from meetings with salespeople. (Forrester Research) The #1 reason salespeople miss quota is an inability to articulate value. (Sirius Decisions) Only 17% of salespeople get a second meeting with an executive. (Forrester Research)
These numbers could be significantly improved if sales leaders coached their teams to the desired behaviors necessary for engagement.
The impact of sales coaching has proven its value time and again. According to Forrester Research, in 2014, 63.2% of organizations with a formal sales coaching methodology achieved quota vs. 54.6% of organizations without coaching. Additionally, only 27% of organizations reported having a formal coaching methodology in place.
From the salesperson’s perspective, the Amabile Study (Harvard University, 2010) found that salespeople are more motivated when they make progress and grow. This speaks to the outcome of coaching, which supports the personal and professional development of those being coached.
Additionally, in 2009, the Gallup Organization reported that top sales » Continue Reading.
In conversations I’ve been having lately with prospects and clients, I’ll ask how well their sales professionals are performing on the job. Their answers focus on the more tangible areas of sales performance. They might refer to lagging indicators, such as where the sales person is in relation to quota goal, revenue attainment, number of closed deals, and growth vs. the prior year. On the other hand, they might reference leading indicators, such as the number of opportunities created, value in the pipeline, or number of calls or meetings with prospects.
Even with all of these proof points, what they’re not able to evaluate very well is this simple question: How good are they? How well does each sales professional perform during those crucial moments when they’re interacting with the buyer? This kind of assessment is important because it’s really where the rubber meets the road — in those human moments of interaction.
Part of what differentiates a seller in the buyer’s mind is being able to trust the seller and knowing that the seller understands the buyer’s business and the issues that the buyer face. It is the quality of interaction, more than technical knowledge, marketing materials, or the value proposition, that creates a connection and convinces the buyer that the seller has his/her best interests in mind.
So, when I probe to find out how sellers’ sales professionals are really performing when interacting with prospects, they often don’t » Continue Reading.
Move away from the computer and coach
Time is a limited and much sought-after resource in the sales environment, especially for sales managers who are being tasked to do more with less. Taking the time for coaching sales professionals can seem like an unrealistic luxury, but the time invested can create greater gains and even more time for the manager. We all struggle with making time to coach so that you have to create a cadence.
There are a few secrets that I have found that can improve your sales coaching techniques and make coaching easier and more effective. The first is discipline. As a sales manager, I disciplined myself to make time for “in-the-moment” coaching every single day.
Each morning, I would walk over to the office or workspace of each of my employees. I said, “Good Morning,” and then asked them three questions:
What was their plan for the day? How were they doing? Was there anything that required my immediate attention or that they needed my help with today?
The whole process took about 20 to 35 minutes. It helped me manage my time, coach my people, and deliver on expectations.
I could tell what I needed to do to coach them in the moment by how they answered the questions. This process surfaced urgent items that needed processing, challenges with a client, any lack of focus, attitudes that were forming, and any performance » Continue Reading.
In my previous blog post, I talked about the need to find time for sales coaching moments. One of the greatest myths that sales managers have about coaching their teams is that it takes too much time. Yes, coaching conversations do take time, but when done right, with the right structure and preparation, coaching can be the most effective use of a sales manager’s time. And, it can actually create more time for sales managers, as they find themselves putting out fewer fires. When sales professionals have the skills and the confidence to operate well independently, they become more responsible and accountable for their own results.
In reality, too many managers commit to coaching without a plan. They can spend hours on one coaching session, trying to get the sales professional to change a
handful of things, overwhelming him/her with a data dump of information.
At Richardson, our target for developmental sales coaching is to focus on one, maybe two, changes that can have the most effective impact. Considering that most people can only change one thing at a time and attention spans continue to shrink, a targeted approach to coaching is better received. Short sessions — 20 minutes or less — can be highly effective. Praise alone takes just a few minutes.
When sales managers don’t take the time to coach, they end up doing more work themselves. They either correct mistakes made by their » Continue Reading.
The business world is constantly churning, which puts pressure on organizations to keep up. Most operate in an environment of globalization, more competition from more places, mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, and technology disruptions. Still, the end goal never changes: to grow the business and optimize resources.
For sales managers, this means not only staying nimble and being able to switch paths quickly but rallying their troops through effective sales coaching so that everyone understands their role and is equipped to contribute. Coaching is no small task, especially as management layers become flattened and those who remain have more responsibility. Today’s managers have to act fast, shift tactics to address priorities of the moment, anticipate changes, and set a vision for his/her people to follow.
Coaching has become a key component of a manager’s responsibilities, but coaching conversations take time. And, finding time for these conversations, one on one, with every member of the team can seem like an impossible task, especially when virtual teams are involved.
There are, however, several ways to create coaching moments that, over time, can work for both sales managers and their sales professionals.
One sales management tip from my own experience as a sales manager involves what I call “fan moments.” The office environment was a tough one, with a lot of pressure to get things done and no excuses. When tensions ran high, people would come into my office so that we could » Continue Reading.
If you are planning on delivering a traditional learning program in a corporate setting, stop. Look at the workplace environment and inhabitants. Listen to the sound of the new commerce.
Workspaces are more open and casual. Inhabitants are more diverse in every way. Mobile devices abound. Paper and writing tables are scarce. There is a sense of continuous motion. Start and stop times are difficult to identify. Organizational hierarchies are nearly invisible.
Now, the largest demographic in the U.S. labor force, workers of the Millennial generation, have often been criticized or, even blamed for some of the generational conflict in the workplace as they push up against the traditional power holders in organizations, the Baby Boomers. Another, sometimes painful, reality is that we are changing and learning from the new workers! The Millennial and other younger generations have grown up with technology in hand. Their hand-helds are their security blankets. They multitask as a way of life, are comfortable in a self-directed learning environment, and are adept in digital and electronic communications, whether e-mail, text, twitter, or video calls.
When it comes to training, Millennials know how to mine data and gather information; they don’t default to an instructor to present fundamental concepts to them. There are many components of traditional Learning and Development (L&D) programs that can be carved out and deliver more effectively on digital platforms. This is where technology shines, with eLearning, webinars, self-paced learning, virtual classrooms, » Continue Reading.
5 Sales Forecasting Techniques to Improve
The key to improving the accuracy in sales forecasting rests with knowing what you need to measure to find out what you want to know. With today’s technology and the near ubiquity of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, it’s more important than ever to give forethought into how you construct your sales forecasts. Otherwise, the data that you get from your time and technology investment may not be what you need to make the right decisions or achieve a real difference in results.
Here are five things that matter most in sales forecasting:
Don’t bother with CRM if you don’t have a sales process. Without an effective sales process in place, how can you trust your CRM technology to provide relevant insights into where deals are stalled or progressing in your pipeline? How can you begin to measure verifiable outcomes and assess the performance (or coaching needs) of your sales force? How will you recognize leading indicators of customer engagement and gain greater confidence in forecasts? There’s an old saying: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Without a sales process, the metrics you pull from your CRM will often be just numbers. Forecast with metrics that matter. Many sales forecasts are built on probability analysis using weighted metrics. The scenario might go something like this: My historical win rate for opportunities in Stage Two of » Continue Reading.
What Do You Really Expect from Your Front-line Sales Managers? Do They Know It?
Anyone who has climbed the ranks of a sales organization can appreciate the complexity of the front-line sales manager’s job. It is usually the most critical position in any sales organization and can make the difference in determining success or failure. So, reach out to your sales managers today, and ask them this: “Name the two most important things we pay you to do.” If their answers don’t align with your expectations, then it’s time for some course correction.
Great sales managers are not always top-ranked salespeople. Clearly, the job requires an above-average level of selling skills, but it also requires a unique blend of multiple skills. It can be like wearing the hats of coach, parent, counselor, advisor, sounding board, and psychiatrist, all at once. The job gets more complicated because of its location in the corporate food chain. A sales manager is caught between the front line, client-facing salespeople, and upper management. Many times, the view of reality on the front line varies greatly from that in the ivory tower. Successful navigation within this food chain can be challenging, even for the most successful sales managers.
So, what are sales managers’ primary points of focus? There are many things to expect from sales managers, but none are more important than these two:
To drive results To develop people
Which » Continue Reading.