Getting the most out of a sales team requires stable, consistent mentoring from management, but it can be difficult to determine how to best apply coaching efforts. Should the bulk of coaching time be spent on weak performers, or should the goal be to raise the average? Where should the focus be when looking for return on coaching investment? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and get your sales coaching initiatives started on the right foot.
Don’t waste time trying to correct weak performance.
Sales reps who consistently perform significantly below the average are usually bad fits for the position period, rather than novices in need of assistance. The performance shift they receive from coaching has usually been measured as the weakest, so consider finding a different position in the company entirely for these individuals or letting them go. In an employee’s first few months with the company, low numbers can be forgiven, but long-term low numbers should be a coaching red flag.
Try to raise the middle.
Multiple studies with thousands of reps have indicated that the middle, rather than the top or the bottom, is what benefits most from strong coaching initiatives, showing gains of up to 19% in gap-to-goal performance. Strengthening the average performance of sales team members will lead to a more consistent experience for leads and clients, and in turn to more reliable sales increases. Avoid lavishing attention on those who have the best sales numbers. While star salespeople deserve attention for respectable work, the moving average is where you need to focus first.
Take every opportunity.
Don’t think of coaching as something to be saved for weekly team meetings or monthly individual meetings. An overheard sales call where something sounds like it went poorly or a quick talk at the water cooler can make just as much of a difference as these more structured interventions. In other words, don’t be a stranger.
Let the team do some of the work for you.
Coaching doesn’t have to come from management, and indeed, the best assistance often comes from inner-team interaction. Consider finding those who consistently perform well in the area you want a sales rep to improve in, and pair them up with others. It’s possible these people will have tips and tricks to impart.
Coaching takes time and money, and draws the attention of managers and top salespeople away from core job roles and responsibilities. Accordingly, it’s important to find ways to measure the effectiveness of sales coaching and determine whether it has led to any return on investment.
- Remember that results won’t immediately outweigh costs. It can be tempting, when one notices that an employee’s jump in sales has only brought in a tenth of what it cost to provide coaching, to abandon the program. If monetary return is the only thing you intend to measure for return on investment, give employees time to justify the expense of coaching.
- Consider metrics beyond individual sales. An improving salesperson can add other value, such as improved customer satisfaction, after receiving solid coaching. Improved customer satisfaction can in turn garner the company more leads and more sales, as satisfied customers tell their friends and colleagues. In the digital age, a single good experience shared on Facebook will reach an average of 150 people, and at least some of those a client talks to online will be potential future buyers.
- Survey employees regarding coaching efforts. Though individual employees may not have the whole picture regarding coaching, their intuition is invaluable when planning the next step of the coaching process. Surveyed employees can often draw attention to a coaching deficiency or make it clearer what’s working, and can often provide specific examples of situations that have been helped by coaching as well as trouble spots.
What do you think?
Coaching can help in-house and remote teams maximize their potential. By adhering to these tips, sales managers and executive personnel can get the most out of their coaching efforts and ensure that they really are seeing a return on the time invested. Have you had a coaching success story? Let us know in the comments.