The Best Sales Coaches Do These 10 Things
The need for effective sales coaching has never been more crucial to the overall success of sales organizations. Fewer sellers are hitting goals, more reps are turning over, and sales leaders are "on the clock" if we fail to accelerate revenue growth rates. The answer to most of these challenges lies at the feet of the sales manager and the ability to effectively coach reps to higher performance.
How can we empower our managers to be better sales coaches?
Sales coaching is "the dynamic process between a sales manager and their direct report that guides all facets of selling." Revenue.io dropped a new report last week – The 2021 State of Sales Coaching – that provides us with ten critical insights into what the best coaches do. After collecting responses from over 2,000 sales pros, they identified some key trends we should all pay attention to whether we sell, manage, or aspire to manage.
Let's dive in. The best sales coaches are more likely to:
1. Manage in organizations that prioritize sales coaching
When sales teams encourage and create enough space (and structure) for managers to coach, that alone leads to an uptick in coaching ability.
2. Spend more than one hour of coaching per week per rep
As the chart below illustrates, in sales teams where coaching is labeled effective, over 60% of managers spend more than one hour per week per rep. In contrast, where coaching is ineffective, fewer than 40% of managers spend that amount of time.
3. Leverage call recording software
Although technology shouldn't replace coaching, it certainly makes it more effective. Tools like Gong.io and Chorus.ai automate specific coaching tasks and provide managers with an all-access pass to any recorded sales call from the team.
4. Provide coaching in real-time
Proactively anticipating needs, the best sales coaches don't wait around for reps to ask for help.
5. Use data
Spotting patterns in data, the most influential coaches avoid recency bias and focus on the bigger performance picture of each rep, rather than pouncing on the last "bad" sales call.
6. Give remote reps equal levels of attention
In the study, almost half of the sales development reps and account executives responded that they receive less coaching while working remotely. The best coaches lean into the virtual world and provide coaching outside of face-to-face interactions, including video calls, Slack, email, and group coaching or training.
7. Get reps to ask better discovery questions
Qualifying a sales opportunity with next-level discovery outweighs an emphasis on handling common objections, according to the research. It's challenging to help reps navigate objections without a qualified deal to pursue in the first place.
8. Don't coach calls at random
According to the report, almost 40% of managers pick calls to coach randomly, while another 31% choose the most recent. The better call selection approach is to coach reps on specific skills like discounting, selling value over features, or using fewer filler words.
9. Schedule recurring coaching sessions
Sales managers should block off at least two hours per rep per week in calendars to stick to a consistent 1:1 schedule and dedicated coaching sessions (individually and in a team setting). The report shows that the ideal number of direct reports is 5-10 reps, meaning up to 50% of a manager's time should be spent coaching.
10. Allocate coaching time by performance
Finally, the best managers coach based on performance. In sales teams where coaching is effective, over 45% look at rep performance versus only 27% in ineffective coaching organizations.
As sales managers, it's essential not to mistake the "coaching by performance" pro tip as a call to spend more time with our high or low performers. If anything, consider our middle performers as having the most potential to grow and improve.
No matter our role, consider how we can make an impact to supercharge our sales coaching:
- Reps – hold our managers accountable for coaching. Bring up some of these items from the list during our next 1:1.
- Managers – work toward all ten tactics over time. Rank the entire list based on quick wins and get started this week.
- Sales enablement – prioritize coaching efforts with our frontline managers and provide a playbook for stellar coaching.