Let’s face it: the sales coaching program you put in place 6 months ago is not showing any demonstrable results in your sales or bookings. Is your sales coaching failing?
Sales coaching isn’t simply about managing sales or teaching lessons. Fundamentally, sales coaching is about working with people. There should be a process of inquiry that challenges reps to tap into their undiscovered strengths and talents and advance their own personal growth, as well as the company’s. It’s about helping people learn from their mistakes and take leaps and bounds forward.
In short, sales coaching has become an integral part of the most effective sales processes at top organizations. Yet, many sales coaches still struggle with their coaching, for a variety of reasons. Here are the 5 most common reasons why sales coaching often fails.
1) Sales managers are not trained to coach
Your top sales executives are expected to manage, lead and coach…but who’s coaching them? Oftentimes, a new-to-position sales manager likely came from a previous position as a sales rep, with very little formal training in the finer points of sales management and sales coaching. They are never explicitly taught how to be a coach. WIthout this proper guidance and training, they will struggle to add value to the sales process, simply by virtue of not knowing how to properly coach.
As a CEO, you want to make sure that your sales managers have the resources they need to improve their own coaching skills. This could mean anything from reading the right books – such as Jason Jordan’s “Cracking the Sales Management Code” – or even attending sales coaching seminars, as necessary.
2) Ego and pride gets in the way
Bad sales coaches think that they know all and generally adopt an attitude of, “It’s my way or the highway.” On the other hand, the best sales coaches know that they don’t know everything, and are comfortable in the knowledge that they always have more to learn, even maybe from the reps they are coaching. It is imperative to check your ego at the door and be willing to be proven wrong at all sales coaching sessions.
3) Not enough time devoted to it
Sales coaching should never be a one-off event, left only for the company retreat. Just as sales is a process, so should sales coaching be. This means having the discipline and time commitment to devote regular attention to sales coaching. Ideally, each sales rep should receive 60 minutes of one-on-one coaching each week to work on a handful – no more than 2 or 3 – specific skills or weaknesses.
4) Wrong approach – sales coaching viewed as remedial or confrontational
Unfortunately, coaching is often viewed as a form of remedial discipline, as if the sales rep did something wrong to warrant this extra attention from the boss. This should never be the case – you want to create a culture where coaching is treated as reinforcement or a valuable opportunity to learn new skills, instead of a slap-on-the-wrist disciplinary measure. Convey to your reps that they are not in trouble just because they have a sales coaching session scheduled.
5) Not using sales metrics or KPIs
Last but most certainly not least, sales coaching often fails when it is done on a largely anecdotal basis, rather than relying on sales metrics and data. There should be explicit sales metrics brought to each coaching session – this will make the issue more relevant to the sales rep.
For example, if you tell a rep that their conversion rates between each sales funnel stage has been slipping and is far behind the team’s average, and then show them the data that backs up this assertion, they will be more receptive. While anecdotal coaching might provoke a defensive response, analytical and data-driven coaching engenders higher buy-in. The undeniable data presented to them will be a stark reminder to the sales rep that they really do have some weaknesses in their sales process to work on, and they will be far more devoted to sales coaching.
Don’t make these 5 mistakes with your sales coaching. Before diving into any extensive sales coaching program, make sure that you have received the proper training yourself. Convey to your reps that sales coaching is a good thing, not a punishment, and schedule regular sessions on your calendars. Finally, bring some relevant sales metrics to the session…but leave your ego at the door! Follow these steps and you’ll see your sales coaching effectiveness reach new heights.
To really kick your sales coaching into gear, check out our new Free Sales Coaching Analytics app, on the Salesforce AppExchange.