Today’s post is by Mat Greenfield, coaching consultant at HireVue. He is a learning and development geek with a passion for helping people be the best they can be through training and coaching. Learn more about HireVue on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Research shows that ongoing coaching that follows sales training has 400 percent more impact on productivity than sales training delivered without coaching. As a result, it’s no wonder sales coaching is a hot topic among leading sales managers. In addition, a landmark CEB study of sales teams showed that coaching delivered by managers is more than twice as effective as coaching by high performing peers – or even an internal sales trainer.
There are numerous benefits of managers providing coaching to their direct reports. These include:
- Coaching drives higher performance. According to research by CSO insights, companies with formal sales coaching programs report 18 percent higher win rates than those with discretionary or informal programs.
- Coaching creates transparency and trust. Coaching provides an opportunity for the manager to talk one-on-one with – and really listen to – their direct reports. This increased time and attention increases transparency, builds trust, and fosters stronger relationships.
- Coaching increases employee engagement. Research shows that salespeople who have received quality coaching report higher engagement levels and are far more likely to stay with their company. With the cost of replacing a sales rep somewhere between two and 10 times their salary, this increased retention represents a significant dollar savings!
Deciding what to coach on is typically quite simple. Riding along on a sales call will give some sense of the initial needs, or even just asking sales reps which parts of the sales process make them most uncomfortable will yield some areas for coaching. Common topics for sales coaching include:
- Delivering an elevator pitch
- Handling objections
- Competitive differentiation
- Pricing negotiation
- Closing the deal
For managers who haven’t established a habit of providing coaching, here are some steps to begin the process:
- Declare your intent. Share your coaching plans with your boss and ask him or her to hold you accountable for following through. In addition, explaining to your team that you are making coaching a priority will set the stage for successful initial sessions. The public nature of these declarations will help you follow through on your promise!
- Establish a schedule. Setting a regular schedule elevates the importance of coaching in the minds of your team, showing that you’re serious about it. Consistency also makes keeping your commitment easier since your time is already blocked off for coaching.
- Leverage technology. Using tools such as HireVue Coach, which deliver on-demand video-based coaching, can make the experience easier, less time consuming, and more effective for both managers and sales reps.
Once you’ve taken the plunge, you’re likely to find that delivering coaching is easier than you think. The simplest method is “directive coaching.” Feedback is delivered as a statement and is based on your observations and expertise. For example, you might recommend that a rep be more aggressive when asking for a next meeting.
A more advanced form of coaching is “non-directive coaching,” which is delivered in the form of questions. This prompts the sales rep to diagnose his or her own performance and identify potential areas for improvement. For example, you might ask, “How do you feel about the way you asked for a follow-up meeting?” This approach leads to self-assessment by the rep and helps create the need and desire to improve in certain areas.
As your coaching experience evolves, you’ll increase in skill, confidence, and effectiveness while you help your direct reports identify and work on areas for improvement. So, good luck sales manager. Now, get coaching!