Coaching is the thing every sales leader wants their managers doing more of. Yet it is the thing that consistently falls through the cracks? Why? Because building and maintaining a coaching program is hard. Sales managers themselves say they aren’t very good at coaching.
Why do sales managers admit that they underperform on coaching? Because in order to develop a scalable sales coaching program, you face these roadblocks:
- Waiting around for a coachable moment takes a lot of time and feels very unproductive. For many sales managers listening in live means hearing a lot of automated greetings, phones ringing with no answer, worthless conversations with administrative assistants, and voicemails.
- Managers don’t have a model for what ‘good’ looks like for various types of calls. If sales managers don’t have a call blueprint and can’t agree on the anatomy of a good sales call, how do you expect your reps to hit the mark? It’s like telling an archer to shoot, but not providing a target.
- Giving feedback in a way that people receive is not an easy to skill to master. Most feedback is delivered poorly and the person being coached shuts down. Most sales managers are never taught how to be sales coaches.
- Many companies suffer from the phenomena I call ‘The Big Pile of Unusable Call Recordings.’ It’s hard to find what you are looking for. Once you find a recording, what are you going to do with it? There is no easy way to categorize calls, take notes on them, jump to keywords in calls, score them, and develop a library of the best practices. And how can you track what skills you are working on with each of your sales reps?
These problems for getting a sales coaching program off the ground are a shame because the benefits are huge. How much should you coach? Turns out the magic number is 3+ hours per rep per month:
Millennial sales reps are asking for mentoring and coaching:
And Millennials say they aren’t getting coaching while sales managers say they are coaching:
This gap in perception should concern all of us. Sales is not just a game about more. At some point we need to focus on better. Better quality conversations turning into better sales opportunities, more closed deals, and more happy customers that renew. Conversations are the basis of the customer experience. Have you secret shopped yourself lately? You might be horrified at what you hear (and what your customers are hearing).
The business case for sales coaching is strong. Even small upticks in conversion rates and win rates generate big ROI.
Where do you get started? Start by downloading the Ultimate Sales Coaching Playbook. Pull your sales managers and top reps together to make a commitment to sales coaching in 2017.
Then get your team to sign up for Call Camp – the free monthly sales training webinar series. Experts break down real sales calls to analyze what works.
What have you done to get sales coaching programs to be part of the habit of your organization? What works?
Originally published Feb 23, 2017, updated Aug 12, 2020