Today’s post is by Brian Trautschold, co-founder and COO at Ambition, the leading sales coaching and gamification software used by in-house and remote sales teams across the globe.
In an ever-changing industry like sales, there’s one challenge that’s constant: high sales rep turnover.
The average tenure of a sales rep is often quoted to be somewhere between 13 and 30 months. When typical ramp time takes nine to 12 months, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for reps to operate at full steam before they move up to a different role or move on to a different job.
What’s the trick to getting your best reps to stick around? It’s all about managing with a sales coaching mentality. Reps crave effective and consistent coaching. In fact, our State of Sales Performance Management Survey showed that 98 percent of reps who responded were more likely to stay with a company if they’re offered ongoing training and development.
Here are three ways you can use sales coaching to ensure your top (or up-and-coming) talent sticks with you.
1. Get personal.
If you’re not engaging in meaningful conversation – or if every coaching session with every rep looks exactly the same – then you may as well not be coaching at all. To keep your coaching sessions personalized:
- Automate what you can: Yes, it seems counterintuitive, but automating the administrative tasks – like scheduling sessions, gathering performance data, tracking conversations and action plans, and sending questions ahead of time – means you can spend your sessions on valuable, development-focused conversations tailored to each rep. The right sales coaching software will help you do just that.
- Ask the right questions: One-to-ones are not mini performance reviews. In fact, your reps should be leading the sessions – but you can guide the conversation with a solid mix of thoughtful, open-ended questions. Ask questions that encourage your reps to make observations about their performance; draw conclusions based on those observations; and then apply them to new and different circumstances.
- Invest in their success: Show your reps you care about them – as members of your team and as sales professionals. Help them identify career development opportunities and position themselves for success. Sure, they may leave you someday if they’re eager to climb the ladder, but you’ll instill in them a level of confidence today that will have a direct impact on their performance today.
By personalizing your coaching efforts, your sessions will not only become more powerful; you’ll also nurture relationships with each rep – which goes a long way toward creating a healthy team culture.
2. Provide a clear path to success.
It’s easy for reps to mentally check out if you haven’t defined what success looks like or if success feels flat-out unattainable. At best, that can lead to disengagement; at worst, it can be demoralizing and create burnout – a huge driver of turnover.
As a sales coach, identifying the right KPIs and setting the right targets will allow you to create a clear path to success for your reps. Bonus: It gives you hard numbers to which to hold your reps accountable.
Not sure if you’ve got the right goals in place? Here’s a quick refresher:
- Work backward from your “North Star”: Start with the big revenue number your team is trying to hit; then, reverse engineer your sales funnel by each opportunity stage – going backward from closed deal to RFP to demo to...you get the picture.
- Calculate conversion rates: Using historical numbers, figure out the average conversion rate between stages in the pipeline.
- Define the activities that drive each stage conversion: These are the activities you should measure and reinforce for reps. Figure out which sales motions work the best for each stage of an opportunity, and incentivize whichever reps are responsible for that part of the funnel to hit their activity goals.
Remember: You can only manage what you can control – and activity and effort are two things that are fully under your control. Set sales goals for your most relevant activities and drive your reps to achieve them every single day. This will create a system of consistency and accountability that will make your reps successful and engaged – and successful, engaged reps are much easier to retain.
3. Coach beyond the one-to-one.
Every sales coach needs to find ways to recognize, motivate, and coach in the moment – without constantly looking over your reps’ shoulders or micromanaging.
The best way to strike that balance is to leverage tools that provide real-time insights and alerts into performance (bonus if they integrate with your instant messaging technology, like Slack). That way, the second a rep veers off track, you’ll know – and you can step in to offer support or coach them up on skills they may need to develop.
Of course, coaching is also about recognizing and celebrating a job well done. If you’re sharing a sales floor, leverage sales TVs with anthems and triggers that fire off when reps score – and be sure to publicly broadcast your sales competitions, too. (If you’ve got remote team members, make sure everything can be viewed through a URL, so the whole company can cheer the team along.)
Real-time coaching demonstrates to your reps that you’re present and plugged in, which in turn keeps them present and plugged in – a surefire way to combat high turnover.
If you’re struggling to retain your top talent, you’re not alone. Before you throw your hands up and assume that short tenures come with the territory, however, consider reevaluating your coaching program.
Structure a coaching program that gives reps what they need, and you can expect to see enhanced productivity, stronger performance – and a lot of talented employees who choose to stick around.