If you want sales coaching to take root in your organization, it has to align with the real-world priorities of sales managers. So what is the top priority for a sales manager? Hitting the sales numbers is king, of course! When coaching is connected to goals and objectives, sales managers will naturally make it a top priority.
So, as a sales manager, how do you ensure that your training on coaching aligns with what matters most to you? Let’s look at three key skills you need to successfully connect the dots between sales coaching and meeting business objectives.
1) Identify key seller activities that drive results.
Before a sales manager can become an effective coach, he or she needs to become an expert at answering the question, “What should my sellers be doing to meet quota?” Targeted sales activities lead to the accomplishment of stated objectives, which ultimately leads to the attainment of desired business results, yet none of these components are addressed in generic sales coaching models. So the first order of business is for sales managers to learn how to set the right direction for seller effort, which means defining which activities have the most impact on achieving goals. This in turn influences the agenda and topics of discussion for sales coaching conversations. Coaching then becomes a sales manager tool for helping sellers prioritize their effort around activities that most closely align with making quota.
2) Connect sales coaching conversations to key seller activities.
Selling is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Neither is sales coaching. Managers must be trained to select the right type of coaching based on the core job of the sellers they manage. If sellers must obtain more new accounts to meet quota, then the coaching should target account prioritization and prospecting. However, if sellers must grow existing accounts, then sales coaching should target up-selling and cross-selling within existing accounts. The more the coaching conversation is connected to the seller activities that lead to quota, the more likely a seller is to reach their goals. Without this clarity of direction, the sales coaching conversation may revolve around a host of topics that may seem to be relevant, but may have little or no impact on actual seller performance.
3) Establish a coaching rhythm.
What sales managers and sellers discuss during a sales coaching session is important, but coaching won’t happen unless sales managers are trained to create a sales coaching rhythm that works for both busy sales managers and sellers. A sales management rhythm must be based on a holistic view of the priorities, objectives and daily responsibilities of sales managers. With this holistic view, sales leaders, trainers and sales managers can work together to develop a framework and management rhythm that allots sufficient sales coaching attention to coaching that will have the biggest impact on seller productivity. An effective sales management rhythm prioritizes coaching effort, leaving room for coaching that is relevant and executable within the manager’s real world and linked to desired outcomes. Dedicating time to have a meaningful and deep conversation about key activities is a common practice of high performing managers, but more is not always better when it comes to sales coaching. One hour of highly effective sales coaching per month will often yield better results than two or three hours of ad-hoc directives given in 10-minute increments. Focus matters.
When you add these three skills to your training program, sales managers will be better equipped to successfully connect the dots between how effective sales coaching can lead to measurable higher sales performance that provides bottom line results. It usually doesn’t take long for sales managers to see that, when properly done, sales coaching is often their best tool for helping sellers meet quota.