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April 6, 2016

Video-Based Sales Coaching: No More “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.”

In the previous entries of this blog series, we have talked about the most effective ways to onboard new reps and channel partners, and the vital nature of long-term reinforcement of initial sales training lessons learned. Both have been presented in the context of how video sales enablement tools are one of the more effective form factors for providing scaled education in the B2B sales operations environment. Now, let’s talk about what happens when a single rep and their manager need to work together in the context of pursuing an actual sales deal, in real time.

The very concept of real-time sales coaching is relatively new, because our abilities to communicate and drive data among sales team members have evolved so dramatically over the last decade. When our parents carried the bag, most of the opportunity for a sales manager to coach their charges took place after the fact and, let’s face it, were mostly limited to those uncomfortable scenarios when a deal had been lost. Certainly, value was seen in understanding “what did you do to seal the deal?” and sharing such tips with the rest of the team, but until the Internet Age, managers were far more likely to perform postmortem analysis on the ones that got away. After all, lost deals make everybody in the sales hierarchy look bad, and result in compensation losses for individual contributors and leaders alike.

Today, the always-on environment that we live in can be annoying at times, but for the savvy sales operations practitioner, it provides vast opportunities to help their teams meet and beat quota more effectively. This is because B2B sales managers used to rely on the rare, time-consuming “ride-along” customer call to see their reps in action and course-correct their presentation skills — a valuable sales coaching tool that could only be deployed in a small minority of deal pursuits.  Modern technology platforms have, however, broken down virtually all barriers of time and space, rendering real-time coaching far more accessible and effective. As the research presented in Best-in-Class Sales Enablement Via Video-Based Learning teaches us, top performing companies are taking advantage of huge advances in connectivity, storage, and bandwidth to support the highly personal and engaging nature of video sales coaching communications as a prime vehicle for long-term sales training and reinforcement.

Regrets Are for Losers

When Aberdeen asked 260 companies whether their sales education initiatives included “real-time coaching for specific deals, opportunities, or accounts,” 70% of the Best-in-Class positively responded, while only 43% of under-performers concurred. The most successful enterprises recognize that the challenges facing a modern B2B seller are stronger than ever before: hyper-informed buyers, user-generated content that eats away at margins, and expectations that reps themselves are always on the grid and expected to do whatever it takes to beat their number. Such organizations recognize more intuitively than under-performers that the old style of sales training — give reps a one-time slew of product, price, and playbook content, send them into the field, and wait to see what happens — is a highly ineffective way to manage a modern salesforce. Instead, these high performers take advantage of the video tools referenced above to develop personal, effective, and Millennial-friendly methodologies for coaching their reps and channel partners in real time, and with better results. When we take a look at the data from a different perspective, comparing adopters of this best practice with non-users, we see in Figure 1 a variety of measurable business advantages that accrue to organizations making such a commitment:

Figure 1: Why It’s a Bad Idea to Wait for the Win/Loss Analysis to Coach Your Reps

These performance improvements, particularly the metrics around reps achieving quota, are perhaps best viewed in the context of the costs that accrue to enterprises whose sales leaders don’t perform their job very well. We know from the research that the time and money involved in replacing a typical B2B sales rep equate to $29k and 7.2 months. Yes, you read that second statistic right: every time a professional seller leaves their organization, their territory is under-served by more than half a year. Doesn’t it make sense, then, to do everything within our power to keep our front-line sellers happy, trained, compensated, and consistently on quota? Term limits may be just fine for politicians, but it’s a real hassle in the enterprise sales organization.

Hence, the value of deploying tools and best practices that support sellers not after their deal is done, but while they are in the middle of their pursuit. With the right video platform deployed, the opportunity to rehearse a sales pitch, perfect one’s body language, and confirm the proper deployment of marketing-provided playbook content, all provide the 1:1 relationship between seller and manager with a stronger opportunity to collectively win more deals and reduce costly turnover.

Peter Ostrow is the VP/Group Director, Customer Management and Principal Analyst, Sales Effectiveness at the Aberdeen Group, a leading provider of fact-based research focused on the global technology-driven value chain.  

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