4 Steps to Deliver Quality Sales Coaching
When a sales force isn’t hitting its targets, sales leaders often hold all-hands ‘triage’ meetings, looking for ways to improve results. These usually include an impassioned speech or animated discussion with the hope of bringing the team out of their collective funk.
Unsurprisingly, this approach often fails to deliver results. When a sales team isn’t reaching its potential, it’s often because of systemic reasons that go far beyond the scope of a pep talk or even a verbal admonition. Rather than applying triage after the wound occurs, sales leaders will see better results by coaching reps to perform better so that they won’t miss quota in the first place.
To be successful, a coaching strategy takes into account that behaviors don’t change instantly; both planning and time are required to get the desired results. One such approach is to divide a coaching program into discrete steps that are implemented over time. The first place to start is to determine the sales competencies on which you want your reps to improve so that you can measure how they’re doing.
An objective, for example, is for reps to stop selling product features and instead to focus on customer value. Competencies to achieve that goal may be mastering a set of discovery questions, being able to use customer stories to reinforce the value of your solution, etc. Once you’ve determined the competencies you want your reps to master, now it’s time to put your plan into motion. Here’s an example of a four-step coaching program:
Identify Sales Best Practices Worth Sharing with Your Team
Reps need an example of what good looks like; a behavior to which they can aspire. The first step in the process, then, is to provide it. A great approach is to have one of your top reps record, say, a discovery call or sales presentation using a platform like Allego, and then share it with the entire sales team. You can add comments at key points within the video where you can highlight key competencies you’d like others to master, and then reps can comment and ask questions contextually right within the Allego video. You can even enable in-context conversations between reps, managers, and even subject-matter experts. Once reps have seen and understood what a best-practice version of their goal looks like, they’re ready to practice on their own.
Provide Sales Reps with Feedback
After seeing what they need to do, reps are ready to practice: improve by rehearsing and refining their approach. With Allego, reps can rehearse anytime and anywhere, and then submit the practice videos to coaches for feedback and scoring. Reps should be able to try multiple times, compare their efforts, and then choose which to deliver to managers. They should also have the option to share attempts with peers, so that they can get feedback from other practitioners to help build their skills and confidence.
During this stage –and really at any point in the coaching process–it’s important to focus on strengths while offering constructive criticism. Everyone likes to hear about when they do good work, not just what needs improvement. Providing a score that takes into account how their doing in each key competency helps, along with point-in-time feedback that highlights both good and not-so-good elements of their effort.
Practice the Sales Pitch
After seeing an example of what good looks like and absorbing constructive feedback, reps should practice until their managers agree that they’ve achieved a level of competence to use their newfound skills on buyers. That’s why it’s important to identify and coach the competencies that comprise a successful effort–so that it’s clear when reps are ready to take it off the practice field and into the game. Once they’re in the field, they won’t be practicing on buyers, where money is on the line, but rather delivering their well-practiced pitch with experience and confidence.
Measure Sales Results
Over time, reps should start seeing success in their sales efforts, and you should be measuring how they do. Keep in mind that success does not always mean more deals right away; what you might notice, for example, is that the amount of time that a rep takes to move an opportunity from stage to stage may shorten, or the value or quantity of deals in the pipeline goes up. These are signs that revenue gains are around the corner, and certainly reflect the results of successful coaching. On the other hand, if there’s no evidence that a rep has improved in the competencies that will drive more revenue, it’s time to revisit the root causes and consider whether a different coaching approach will achieve better results.