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January 10, 2019

If You Don’t Make Time to Coach Reps, Make Time to Vet Their Replacements

The investment required to turn a “B player” into a top sales performer is a terrible thing to waste. Yet that’s exactly what many sales organizations do: they let a big chunk of their sales training investment fall by the wayside.

The average tenure of a salesperson is just two years. At many companies, it can take 10 months or more for a new sales rep to become fully productive, which makes high turnover even more costly.

And what’s the #1 reason why sales reps leave their jobs? According to them, it’s their bosses. In many cases, however, the real culprit behind reps’ dissatisfaction, poor performance and attrition is a lack of high-quality coaching.

Coach Sales Reps or Lose Them

A recent survey we conducted showed that on one hand, most sales managers acknowledge that sales coaching is an important part of their jobs. However, many also say that they don’t have enough time for coaching. But ironically, most do have time – or are forced to make time – to interview new hires.

So it boils down to this: does it make more sense for your organization to devote time to developing your existing talent by coaching new skills, behaviors and knowledge, or on vetting and training one batch of replacements after another?

Remote Sales Coaching

It’s true that many managers are stretched thin. They don’t have time to coach every rep, not when this requires them to be physically present. But with new modern learning platforms, they no longer have to be in the same room (or on the same call) to evaluate reps’ performances and offer feedback. They don’t even have to be on the same continent.

With mobile sales training tools, pitch and customer-objection practice, as well as “post-game” analysis, can be done remotely and asynchronously. Using these platforms, for example, a manager can watch a rep’s video practice offline, and then input notes, feedback and even scoring right into the system for the rep to review later.

Over time, the recorded rehearsals and feedback become not only a set of valuable data points for salespeople, but also a library of best practice templates that the entire sales force can access instantly – in the office or in the field.

Progress that’s Measurable

Another key benefit of digital coaching tools? Progress is often measurable.

For example, trainers tell new hires to ask open-ended questions – questions that start with the word what. This tends to elicit eye-rolls because, in theory, most trainees already know this. In practice, however, it’s not how most people talk. You don’t ask friends “What kind of entertainment would you like?” You ask, “Do you want to see a movie?”

Open-ended questions and active listening are vital skills to practice, but until recently, they were difficult to measure. Using modern sales learning and coaching platforms, however, coaches can easily count the number of open-ended questions vs. closed-ended questions, as well as the number of times a rep interrupts vs. the instances when they demonstrate active listening.

If your people aren’t practicing, they aren’t getting better at their jobs. And if they aren’t getting better at their jobs, they’re more likely to miss quotas and grow frustrated with the feedback they are receiving.

Video learning platforms tackle this problem by making practice more convenient, less of a time burden and even fun – for both the salespeople and the coaches.


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