If the path to sales success runs through the team and coaching is so critical, then why is it so hard to build a sustained coaching culture? In our work with thousands of front-line sales managers, we have heard every reason — not enough time, too many competing priorities, lack of trust in the team, etc. And yet, when you peel those reasons away, the problem persists. To truly build a sustained and high-performance coaching culture, one must first understand the true barriers that prevent success.
1. Sales Managers Often Can’t See the Forrest for the Trees
Leading a sales team is about balancing the long- and short-terms priorities to set the team up for sustained success. A sales manager needs a team of sellers who are accountable, engaged, and independent; and yet, building that kind of team means taking a strategic approach to high performance.
Most sales managers are primarily focused on numbers and often fall back to tactics and behaviors that might save the month but will prevent long-term, sustained growth. Focusing on learning and accelerating change through coaching will drive success, but it requires focus and discipline, which get tested and compromised under intense pressure.
Many managers think they are effectively coaching when in fact, they are not — they are directing, telling, and often doing the work themselves. Approaches to “coaching” fall on a continuum from directive coaching, where the coach serves as an expert, telling » Continue Reading.
Sales coaching is the key to sales success and improving the performance of the sales organization. It is the most important job a sales manager has.
It takes a certain kind of individual to step into a sales manager role — and an even more unique one to be successful at it. Most sales managers know that they have to drive performance through their team if they are ever to have a shot at making their goal. A team goal simply can’t be achieved by one single sales manager. Yet, we often see sales managers making Herculean efforts and resorting to hero tactics to win deals for their team members. Many times, they are putting in the longest hours — more than their direct reports. They put themselves in front of the customer when the stakes are high. They consistently have the monkey on their back.
If you ask a sales manager if coaching is an important aspect of their role, most are sure to agree that it is. It is difficult to find someone who disagrees with the value of coaching. However, in the fast-paced, modern sales environment, where almost everyone has more priorities, more initiatives, more customer issues, and more administrative work, “… it is easy for people to justify not making time for developmental activities.” (Conger, 2013)
Sales coaching is the key to sales success and is the most important job a sales manager has. But to truly build a sustained and high-performance coaching culture, you must understand the true barriers that prevent success.
Join us for this complimentary Training Industry webinar, sponsored by Richardson. Your host, Miriam Abbey, senior facilitator at Richardson, will provide insights on:
• Barriers to developmental sales coaching • Core tenants of a sales coaching methodology • Guiding principles for excellence in sales coaching
In our 2017 Selling Challenges Survey, more than 350 sales professionals were asked “What will be your toughest negotiation challenge in 2017?” The top responses included:
Gaining Higher Prices (24%) Closing Win-Win Deals (20%) Maintaining Profitability (11%)
“Gaining higher prices” has been the top negotiating challenge for three years running. This year’s top challenges indicate a laser-sharp focus on negotiation outcomes — prices, wins, and profits. “Closing win-win deals” shows the value sellers place on building trust and credibility in order to develop long-term, productive relationships. “Maintaining profitability” is a challenge made visible by the greater availability of real-time sales data, which allows organizations to be smarter about decisions affecting profits. “Managing procurement” is another response worth noting, rising from 4% in 2016 to 11% in 2017. This reflects the increasing involvement of procurement staff as they join the decision-making team late in the process without any emotional attachment to the deal. Their role is to drive down price or get additional products or services for the same price. While this specific challenge didn’t make the top three, its impact is reflected there.
Richardson’s Negotiation Insights
Trust and credibility are keys to managing relationships with customers and closing win-win deals. Sellers can’t claim trusted advisor status; it has to be earned. Being a trusted partner begins with integrity but also requires skill and strategy, which can be learned and practiced.
Sellers need a » Continue Reading.
In our annual selling challenges survey, we asked more than 350 sales professionals to tell us about their biggest challenges in prospecting in 2017:
17% of respondents reported that creating a targeted prospecting strategy would be their greatest challenge 14% said that the quality of leads from marketing would be their greatest challenge 12% said gaining appointments would be their greatest challenge
These results tell us time is a precious commodity, especially as demands for productivity increase in an increasingly difficult selling environment. Being able to create a targeted prospecting strategy is essential to avoid wasting time, making this the number one prospecting challenge in 2017.
Compared with 2016 responses, this year’s top challenges indicate a trend toward greater targeting and quality of leads. Sellers are homing in on ways to become more strategic in their prospecting efforts, while being less concerned with the “how” — which sales and marketing enablement tools to use — in identifying triggers for their accounts. The availability of data through lead generation and research tools has lifted some of this burden from sellers. The problem, however, is that without a plan for how best to use this data, sellers can easily get lost in the sheer volume available.
The top two prospecting challenges from 2016 dropped off this year’s list. With more sales enablement tools being used, sellers are easily able to research companies as possible targets and to set triggers for their accounts.
With time short and budgets tight, it’s becoming a rare occasion when sales teams actually come together, meeting face to face. The result is often a lack of interaction among team members.
At Richardson, we understand the barriers keeping teams apart, but we also know relationships add value in forming strong sales teams. We believe the answer to bridging this gap lies in technology. Over the past year, we’ve been prototyping and refining a new approach to blended learning that incorporates strong social elements to bring the benefits of social interaction in learning to geographically dispersed teams. This new approach to training works within the realities of today’s sales environment. It is one that doesn’t take sellers out of the field for too long. One flexible enough to work as a standalone online solution or combined with minimal classroom time. One that forges connections between sellers.
Social Learning Tools
Leaderboards allow sellers to see their own progress and compare it against the progress of their teammates. Elements like games, quizzes, answering questions, unlocking achievement badges all promote social interactions. Friendly gameplay appeals to sellers’ natural competitive instincts while reinforcing learning and skill development.
With discussion threads, sellers can talk with others on their team and even have private conversations with managers. They can share comments and questions, and reply to those others have posted. They can discuss best » Continue Reading.
Richardson has just launched a new research piece, “Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017.” This annual study of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving.
This year’s report continues to highlight a challenging sales environment driven by ongoing shifts in buyer behaviors, competitive pressures, and operational trends. It also suggests that there has never been a better time to understand, challenge, and change how sales are made. With unprecedented access to mobile and digital technologies, sellers can understand their buyers better than ever before, creating new opportunities to build lasting engagements in today’s hyper-connected world.
The new customer expectation — regardless of industry — is one of value and trust. As a result, sales success in 2017 and beyond means acting as a true business advisor by delivering value through authentic curiosity, prepared relevancy, and unmatched credibility.
Over the past few months, Richardson surveyed over 350 sales professionals, managers, and leaders from all industries to gain insight into the challenges they expected to face in 2017. We asked questions that touched upon every phase of the sales cycle, from prospecting to closing. The study compares these results to the results from previous years. In 2017, we dug deeper, expanding our survey to include questions about productivity, team selling, and buyer perceptions.
Our team carefully reviewed the data » Continue Reading.
A one-size-fits-all approach to sales training is guaranteed to fail. That’s especially true with sales forces that span multiple generations and learning styles. What it takes to engage all kinds of learners is an approach to training that is flexible, personalized, bite-sized, and active.
At Richardson, we believe a blended-learning approach is needed to meet learners where they already are. Learning methodology should be constructed of independent blocks of content that build on one another. Each topic should deliver layers of content so learners can proceed at their own pace and dive deeper into topics of interest.
To promote active learning of skills and behaviors takes a systematic approach to learning and practice. At Richardson, we have identified four components to simplify the process:
1) See It. In this initial stage, learners are introduced to fundamental concepts, including why they are important, the behavioral science behind them, and best practices. Lessons should establish a common language for discussing the topic and expressing what it means within the learner’s organization. Scenario-based videos can be used to demonstrate both effective and ineffective behaviors, with learners challenged to identify the differences.
2) Try It. The next step is for learners to make decisions based on what they’ve learned. Again, videos can be used, with learners selecting from several possible responses to scenarios. Feedback allows learners to see whether or not they truly understand the lesson while learning even more about the topic.