Sales coaching is often listed as one of the top three priorities for sales managers – and with good reason. Sales coaching is an effective way to increase sales, retain employees, and create measurable positive changes for any organization. Coaching also offers managers an opportunity to not only get a firsthand look at the issues their reps are facing in the field, but also to share best practices that will assist reps in improving their performance.
But despite the major benefits coaching can offer, research has shown that the majority of sales managers fail to provide effective coaching to their sales reps. In this post, we’ll highlight the impact of effective sales coaching, and show you how you can improve your own organization’s coaching efforts to maximize your sales team’s success.
Better Sales Coaching Raises Sales Percentiles by 28% – 49%
While it seems fairly obvious that better coaching creates better results, research suggests that the potential for improvement may be significantly higher than many sales managers expect.
In an evaluation of almost 2 million salespeople and sales managers, Objective Management Group (OMG) found that sales percentile scores were 28% higher for sales reps whose managers devoted at least 50% of their time to coaching. Reps who received coaching also showed higher scores in key sales competencies: 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in Closing, compared to reps whose managers rarely provided coaching.
Interestingly, these numbers only factor in the time spent coaching – not the quality of the coaching itself. In a follow-up evaluation, OMG discovered that managers who spent extensive time coaching and have great coaching skills can increase their reps’ sales percentile scores by as much as 49%, compared to managers with weak skills who spent minimal time coaching.
More Than Half of Sales Managers Are Not Good Coaches
Unfortunately, further OMG research has indicated that the majority of sales managers do not possess the coaching skills needed to create this level of positive impact. According to OMG, 63% of all sales managers fall into the weak category and 24% of all sales managers fall into the serviceable category – leaving only 13% of sales managers with “strong” or “elite” coaching skills.
Poor coaching among sales managers may be attributed to factors such as:
- Competing priorities – A sales manager’s role includes a number of varying responsibilities, and while coaching is often named as a key objective, few organizations reflect that prioritization in management KPIs. For many sales managers, personal sales and commissions may also outweigh management compensation, and influence the manager’s motivation to devote their time and energy to coaching.
- Poor definition – Sales managers may also have a poor definition of what “coaching” involves. Some managers may believe that coaching is simply a matter of telling a sales rep what to do, or helping them with basic tasks such as lead identification or pricing. Others feel that listening to a sales call or observing a client visit in the field constitutes coaching. However, these activities require additional learning and engagement elements in order to be effective.
- Inability to execute – In other cases, a sales manager may understand the various factors that go into effective coaching, but are unable to effectively implement them. In particular, many sales managers falter when it comes to role-playing activities – often considered one of the most important and effective elements of sales coaching.
What Makes Sales Coaching “Good”?
There are a number of ways to develop and implement successful sales coaching programs, but the most effective programs share the same basic qualities. In general, good coaching programs:
- Are individualized to the sales reps’ unique skills and learning preferences
- Promote trust by creating a non-judgmental environment and allowing open discussion of challenges
- Encourage self-evaluation that allows the sales rep to build self-awareness and guide the coaching discussion
- Use the Socratic method, with effective questions that stimulate thinking and allow sales reps to have ownership in creating the solution
- Focus on improving one area at a time versus addressing multiple points and potentially overwhelming the sales rep
- Focus on improving skills and techniques rather than specific sales numbers
Improve Your Coaching Skills with HireDNA
The sales training and coaching experts at HireDNA can help you improve your sales coaching skills, develop an effective coaching and training program, and deliver high-quality sales training that works within the workflow of your sales team.
HireDNA was recently recognized as an emerging leader in corporate training and coaching. Our experts can assist with any questions about building first-in-class, on-demand sales training tailored specifically for remote sales forces.