What is Coaching, Anyway?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - Post by MichelleVazzana

We were recently presenting at an industry conference, and someone from the audience asked a simple but consequential question.  She said: “You know, we constantly tell our sales managers that we want them to coach their reps, but I’m not sure that the managers know what that means.  In your opinion, exactly what is ‘coaching?’

Her question was actually quite insightful.  There is no textbook definition for coaching, and there’s certainly no consensus as to what the term means.  We all know that coaching is distinct from training, and most would accept that it’s done interpersonally at the individual level.  That’s about where the agreement ends.  Well, since she asked, we’ll take this opportunity to share our view of the term ‘coaching.’  Our perspective is that it’s all a matter of… ahem… perspective.   Let’s examine what coaching means to three different stakeholders in the organization – the VP of sales, the frontline manager, and the sales rep.

Most vice presidents of sales we work with say that they expect their front-line managers to be coaching their sellers.  If we press them for more detail on their expectation, they respond with some variation of, “I expect my managers to proactively work … Read the rest

What Your VP of Sales Job Description Reveals About Your Company

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 - Post by MichelleVazzana

You can learn a lot by examining the job descriptions of sales leaders. In fact, you can discover what is expected of leadership, how an organization is structured, and what a company values. These are just a few of the insights I gained while conducting an informal research of job descriptions for vice president of sales positions. I wanted to learn about what companies value in a sales leader, and the findings are quite revealing.

The typical job description for a VP of sales reads something like the following:

Seeking a vice president of sales to direct and coordinate domestic and global sales. Essential duties and responsibilities of a vice president of sales include:

– Design strategic sales and customer management plans
– Establish goals and monitor achievement
– Develop and share best practices across the organization
– Ensure there is proper infrastructure for accurate forecasting and reporting
– Develop and implement a focused selling strategy for short-term and long-term growth
– Play a hands-on role with the field sales organization, maintaining personal presence and high visibility in the field
– Directly participate in closing key accounts

Nothing out of the ordinary, right? You’ve probably encountered dozens of these job … Read the rest

What’s Missing From Your Training on Sales Coaching?

Friday, August 29th, 2014 - Post by MichelleVazzana

A sales manager’s entire attention is focused on leading a sales force to achieve specific organizational business objectives and goals, yet there is something conspicuously missing from sales manager training on coaching — a focus on the specific path to achieve those objectives and goals. Most training on coaching includes traditional coaching models that can be used by any function within a business. Unfortunately, these coaching models stop short of providing sales managers with insight into how to leverage coaching to best achieve organizational business goals. In sum, most coaching models miss the critical link between “what” they want sellers to do and “how” sellers can best accomplish the desired outcomes.

As a trainer, you have the opportunity to uncover the specific business goals your sales managers need to achieve, and then use that information to zero in on the exact topics sales managers need to address through coaching to help the sales force reach those goals. For instance, maybe your company’s main business goal is to obtain 20% more new customers. If so, sales managers would benefit from training on how to coach sellers to segment territories and determine which accounts have the highest potential.

Perhaps the main business … Read the rest

One Likely Reason Your Forecasts Stink

Monday, August 4th, 2014 - Post by JasonJordan

forecast2Sales forecasting is an activity that consumes an enormous amount of management’s time, yet few organizations are happy with the accuracy of their collective forecasting efforts. So how is it that sales forces can expend so much effort on forecasting and still produce revenue predictions that stink? To find out, Vantage Point recently turned its research engine toward sales forecasting in an effort to identify the sources of forecasting failure as well as the best practices that can make sales forecasting more accurate.

Our first observation is that many sales forces are using forecasting models that don’t reflect the way their sales forces actually sell. The predominant forecasting approach is, of course, to build the sales forecast from a pipeline of opportunities that are being actively pursued by the sales force. Each opportunity is slotted into a stage of the company’s sales process, and a percentage is then applied to the deals in each stage to generate a probability-adjusted revenue prediction. In fact, our research shows that 85% of business-to-business sales forces currently forecast using this tried-and-true method. So what’s the problem with that?

We will set aside for the moment the many problems with how this opportunity forecasting method … Read the rest