How Sales Coaching Can Help You Beat Economic Challenges
During challenging economic times, it’s only natural for sales leaders to look for ways to do more with less. While your budget may be cut, chances are your sales goal hasn’t been.
For sales leaders looking to boost performance, training your frontline sales managers with a comprehensive sales coaching program can make a big difference. Industry research shows that sales coaching can help increase revenues by 20% or more. A renewed focus on sales coaching can give your team the edge they need to succeed in a recession.
To get the most from your sales coaching program, consider these three factors.
#1 Coaching is an Essential Responsibility of a Manager
A manager’s primary job is to focus on the business operations and drive sales results, of course. These responsibilities include managing and coaching, which are two fundamentally different activities, and a frontline sales manager must make time to do both.
Sales coaching is the time a manager spends 1:1 with their team members to improve their ability to sell. To maximize sales results, a manager needs to ensure that every member of the team is operating at a peak level, just like a sports team.
Good sales coaching is built on a foundation of individual collaboration that includes a plan to improve that person’s performance. Improving skills is hard, and it takes time. Ultimately, the salesperson must own the change, which is why ongoing collaboration is vital in coaching. A good coach encourages collaboration through open communication and feedback, from both the coach and the salesperson, to ensure that the salesperson feels comfortable and supported.
Business-to-business sales organizations typically target 25% to 40% of a front-line sales manager’s time for sales coaching—it’s that important.
#2 Coaching Creates Leverage
The primary benefit of coaching is that it creates leverage, which is the key to driving better sales performance.
Leverage means that your salespeople do the work, not you. Sales coaching helps salespeople learn how to solve their problems over time without your involvement. This means you will spend less time “putting out fires” and more time working on important issues (and leaves more time for coaching). Over time as your team’s skills improve, sales results will also improve.
In our Sales Management Research Report, we found that sales managers at high-impact organizations (sales organizations where over 75% of sales reps achieve quota) spend significantly more time coaching than sales managers at average (25% - 75% achieve quota) and low (less than 25% achieve quota) performing organizations.
Likewise, a study by the Corporate Executive Board found that companies that have implemented a formal sales coaching program saw a 14.9% increase in sales productivity and a 15.6% increase in sales quota attainment.
While research supports the significant ROI of sales coaching, it's important to note that sales coaching is a continuous process, not a one-time event, so it is essential to have an ongoing coaching program. A study by the Sales Management Association found that coaching effectiveness increases by an average of 73% when delivered over three or more months.
#3 Some Managers May Resist Coaching Initially
Despite the data supporting the value of consistent coaching, some sales managers may still be reluctant to coach their teams. In our experience, the most common reasons for this resistance include:
- Lack of time: Sales managers are often pulled in multiple directions, and they may not have time for dedicated coaching. They may focus on short-term priorities and not see coaching (which is a long-term undertaking) as a priority.
- Lack of training: Some sales managers may not have the training or experience to be effective coaches. They may not know how to identify areas where each salesperson needs improvement or how to deliver coaching productively.
- Lack of support from upper management: Sales managers may not receive the support they need from upper management to coach their teams. There may not be resources to invest in coaching programs or not be given enough time to coach their teams.
- Lack of understanding of the benefits: Some sales managers may not understand the value of coaching and may not see it as a necessary part of their job. They may not realize that coaching can help improve their team’s performance, so they may not prioritize it.
Such resistance, however, will fade once managers start seeing tangible results from their coaching efforts.
An Ideal Time to Commit to Sales Coaching
Sales coaching is a foundational part of a sales manager’s job function and a proven way to drive better sales results. Consistent coaching will help improve your team’s selling skills and performance.
As the economic challenges continue to grow, there’s never been a more important time to commit to sales coaching. It’s a must-have capability for your sales team to do more with less and meet increased sales goals.
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About David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.