Listen now, as Guardia outlines how fast-growing companies can coach and enable their frontline managers and sales leadership, regardless of their size.
In this 16-minute interview Guardia outlines:
How to coach your frontline managers effectively
Ways to enable your sales leadership
Tips to deal with managers who are reluctant to coach
Best practices for sales enablement and coaching
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“If you just take your reps and you say,
’Hey congratulations! Tomorrow you are a manager, and we don’t provide any support or guidance about how best to do that, or stick with them throughout their journey to becoming the best manager they can be.’
hen that’s just wishful thinking, and it is not going to help the selling organization,” states Jill Guardia, Sales Enablement Practitioner and Leader, who is also P
resident of the Boston Chapter
of the Sales Enablement Society.
According to Guardia, “Sales enablement is really about ensuring that the selling organization and the partner community is prepared to do their job. That preparation comes in the form of skills, knowledge, systems, tools, and processes that focus on sales efficiencies and overall improvement of their sales effectiveness. In some cases, people call it an improvement to sales productivity.”
To ensure everyone contributing to sales effectiveness in an organization are on the same page, it’s crucial to enable the enablers.
Many managers don’t know how to coach well. They may have been great sales reps, but just because they’ve been promoted into a management role doesn’t mean they’re equipped to perform it.
Whether you’re a fast-growing startup or a large enterprise you have one number to chase: revenue. While revenue is a good indicator of how your sales team has performed, it doesn’t really give you any idea how they’re performing right now, or whether you’re going to make your revenue number six months from now. Revenue doesn’t provide you with any insights into how your salespeople actually sell and gives you no way to control or change how they can create more revenue.
This leaves sales leaders open to massive risk. If you’re not sure how you’re making your number, it may take a lot more of your time to identify the right market trends, analyze your competition, understand falling sales behavior and adjust your sales coaching program. Being a sales leader is like being a jockey. While the racehorse is steaming full speed ahead, you need to be looking for potential threats and dangers in every direction.
Don’t get me wrong, revenue is still the most important indicator of success but it alone is not enough. In this digital age, the way people buy has changed, and we need to look at how we run sales differently in order to adapt. It’s no longer enough to rely solely on lagging indicators because your competitors and buyers will have moved on by the time you realize something’s not working.
Indicators that help you achieve predictable revenue will ensure that you always know what that figure will be each month, quarter, and year. To achieve predictable revenue you first need to understand how your salespeople actually sell, what works, and what doesn’t. To identify and track this it’s necessary to look at different indicators; efficiency and effectiveness indicators. Efficiency and effectiveness indicators can be tracked using sales readiness tools (like Mindtickle) and customer engagement tools (like Showpad and Seismic).
Indicators identify the path to predictable revenue
A leading indicator is one that can change before the final outcome is achieved, which means it can actually provide an indication of what the final outcome (ie. your revenue) will be. The metrics that are tracked are efficiency and effectiveness indicators. Traditionally companies have tracked mostly indicators of efficiency. But this is no longer sufficient because market dynamics are changing and it’s no longer enough to be efficient. Modern sales organizations also need to be effective to succeed.
Effectiveness is about ensuring your sales reps “get it”. They not only have the requisite knowledge of their products or services but their skills are developed enough to have meaningful customer interactions, consistently. They do this by measuring the individual activities that contribute to achieving your end goal.
Sales effectiveness indicators will help you achieve predictable revenue. These, in turn, drive your efficiency indicators and create the foundation that supports the achievement of your lagging indicators.
Productivity = efficiency x effectiveness
Measuring efficiency is relatively easy as so much work has been put towards this objective. It’s always the first line of defense when trying to improve productivity (ie. determining how to enable your reps to do more). There are several metrics that can be used to measure this, for example:
Number of calls/meetings held
Number of opportunities added to pipeline / CRM
Number of proposals/quotes submitted
% of leads converted to opportunities
% Opportunities converted to close
Average deal size per rep
Time from the pipeline to quota
% forecast achieved
Depending on your business objectives you might choose to measure the ones that are most relevant to you. But there’s only so much more your reps can do. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where optimizing efficiency actually produces fewer returns or even results in a decline in productivity.
That’s why measuring and managing sales effectiveness is crucial in improving your rep’s ability to meet their numbers. Some examples of effectiveness metrics are:
Negotiation and challenger scores
Social selling skills
Number of coaching sessions
Number of training certifications completed
These indicators have historically been challenging to measure, but Mindtickle’s sales readiness software now facilitates this. It enables these crucial indicators to be tracked and measured in a way that is transparent and objective. And more importantly, it has become easy to correlate the effectiveness of sales revenue.
So if you can track how effective and efficient your sales team is, you can achieve predictable revenue. If things are going off track, you’ll be alerted in advance, before it shows up on your top-line revenue. This gives you the opportunity to rectify it and avert disaster. So while your senior management is focused on the revenue number, sales leaders need to look to their efficiency and effective indicators to ensure they meet it.
Millennials are set to represent 75% of the global population by 2025. While they might be the youngest people in your business, they are by no means the most junior. Millennial managers and CEOs are now commonplace, the latter particularly in startups and technology. It’s well established that Gen X and Baby Boomer’s value career development and job satisfaction.
Similarly, millennials have distinct behaviors and work preferences, which is why they need specific training and coaching to help them perform better on the field.
To develop a coaching program that addresses the unique preferences of millennials, it’s important to understand how their behavior differs from other generations. This then impacts how to coach them, and even their propensity to be coached.
We’ve identified seven imperatives to take into account when structuring a coaching program for your millennial salespeople.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these and outline how they impact your sales coaching program.
Tie coaching to technology
By far the most distinguishing feature of millennials is the ease with which they understand and prefer to use technology. They’ll reject clunky antiquated systems in favor of convenient and intuitive technology. For millennials, being connected at all times is essential, in fact, 83% sleep with their smartphone by their bed.
While many millennials are comfortable socializing in person, they’re adept at using online mediums to enhance relationships and broaden their reach. So don’t be surprised if your millennial sales rep prefers to email customers rather than calling them.
How does this impact coaching?
Leveraging sales readiness technology is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s essential. Your millennial reps will demand that it be easy to use, accessible and helpful to perform their job. Without each of these factors, your reps may simply choose not to use your tools, and some may even find new ones to use. Keeping your millennial reps well-connected can pay dividends, in fact, our customers have found that 36% of their millennial reps choose to engage with information voluntarily outside of work hours.
Millennials preference to leverage technology may impact their ability to communicate with customers in other ways. This means they may require some back-to-basics coaching on how to develop relationships in person, from maintaining eye contact to opening a conversation. If some of your buyer personas are not millennials then this could also include coaching them on how to address generational preferences in customer conversations, and in particular when it’s appropriate to use technology and when it’s not. For example, baby boomer customers may prefer speaking to someone in person over email communication.
Keep content brief
Millennials are often depicted as having short attention spans when really they prefer consuming bite-sized information in short intervals. So when it comes to training, rather than sitting for hours in a classroom, your reps are more likely to consume bite-sized information. This addresses both a preference for crisp communication and accessing information on their mobile device.
Millennials are also expert multi-taskers, they’re often listening to podcasts while answering emails. Their proficiency in managing multiple tasks makes them experts at consuming information in different ways than previous generations.
How does this impact coaching?
Keep coaching sessions short but regular. Rather than conducting one-on-one coaching marathons just once in awhile, coach your reps regularly but in shorter intervals.
Engage them and not just manage them
Collaboration is one of the best ways to engage a millennial salesperson. They value learning from others and working as part of a team. They like to learn and solve problems by hearing success stories and working in teams. Millennials believe in sharing their wisdom and experiences as well, which provides a great opportunity for other teammates to learn from them.
Another way to engage them is by using gamification to encourage some healthy competition. In fact, 79% of learners believe their learning is more productive when introduced in a gamified environment. As self-starters, don’t be surprised if your millennial salespeople demand access to data so that they can gauge their own performance and plug their own knowledge gaps.
How does this impact coaching?
Leverage success stories and other tools to help reps learn from their peers. Practically understanding how others have approached a problem and then practicing it in a role play may even be more effective than being verbally trained by their manager.
Make coaching a team effort by providing online collaboration tools that allow your “A players” and seasoned reps to share their experiences. This can be facilitated through a sales enablement platform so it doesn’t matter where your experts and reps are based. After all, millennials are comfortable conversing with people online, regardless of their location.
Gamify the experience wherever possible so that reps can compete against each other, and even themselves.
Be transparent with your data. By giving your reps access to their data you enable them to identify their own gaps and allow them to suggest areas they would like to be coached on. When reps buy into their own coaching plan they’ll put their heart and should into it refining their own knowledge and skills.
Ensure coaching is driven by their values
Millennials have grown up in an era where political correctness and social awareness is high. This permeates into their personal values, seeking out opportunities that add real value and have a social impact. They expect a lot from their life and their employers and like to see their work reflected in the bigger picture. They have opinions and aren’t afraid of expressing them, but are also open to hearing other perspectives and taking onboard feedback.
How does this impact coaching?
When coaching millennial sales reps be sure to explain the value in what you’re doing. They need to see where they are going and how it will make an impact on their performance and the broader business.
Take a values-driven approach by asking your reps what they value. This will help them incorporate this view into their feedback and long-term coaching plan.
Consider their expectations at all times
Millennials aren’t used to waiting for anything. They’ve always been able to access everything at the touch of a button, so don’t expect them to wait patiently for career progression either.
As self-starters, they’ll happily take responsibility for their own development if they know what to expect and how to achieve it.. In fact, research has found that people between 25 and 34 are more likely to express gratitude for “being satisfied with an existing job” then they are about “spending quality time with family and friends.” So harness their desire to enjoy their work and perform it well.
How does this impact coaching?
Rather than coaching a specific issue in isolation, use a structured approach to providing millennials with a clear roadmap for their development. This not only helps you structure a coaching program but also gives your reps transparency about what they need to achieve in order to progress.
Give them agility and freedom
Millennials have been quick to embrace, and in many instances have driven, the death of the standard workday. But just because your reps may not begin and end their working day in normal office hours doesn’t mean they don’t work just as hard. In fact, our customer data shows that 27% of millennial users access and engage with the Mindtickle platform between the hours of 8 pm and midnight, and 4% even access it on Sundays.
Other research indicates that millennials stress and worry about their work more than other age groups. But thankfully they are also driven to find ways to overcome these issues. The flexibility to work when it suits them can be challenging to manage, but it shouldn’t impact your ability to coach your millennial sales reps when they need it, whatever the time.
How does this impact coaching?
Leverage online coaching tools that are accessible whenever and wherever. This gives your reps the flexibility to manage their time as they please, and still receive feedback from you without having to be physically present for a one-on-one coaching session.
If you would like to have some oversight into your reps activities, sales readiness software like Mindtickle allows you to see when and how your reps are accessing coaching tools and content. This can even be used as an additional coaching point when this data is overlaid with sales information.
Leverage their willingness to receive feedback and recognition
The millennial generation was raised in an era where praise and reward are valued, so naturally, they value recognition in the workplace. But along with the need to be recognized is the understanding that feedback is part of the process. This makes them more open to giving and receiving feedback, and willing to apply it so that they can achieve further rewards. How does this impact coaching?
As coaching often provides immediate feedback it may be more readily embraced by your millennial reps. When the feedback gives them visibility into their own progress and is linked to things they value, your millennial reps are more likely to take on board coaching and use it to succeed quicker.
To make your feedback easier to digest, it’s important to ensure that it’s directly relevant to your reps performance. It’s also helpful to deliver it in bite-sized pieces, so that specific issues can be readily addressed.
By reviewing and tailoring your approach to coach, you’ll not only help your millennial reps become better salespeople but also ensure that you retain them.
It’s also worth noting, that just because many of these techniques are directed towards the behaviors and values of your millennial reps, it doesn’t mean that your entire multi-generational workforce won’t benefit from them. It may take some time for some of your staff to get used to technology, but these modern coaching methods improve engagement, foster collaboration and enable remote workers to have the same level of development as their head office counterparts. While some may long for the good old classroom days g and in-person feedback, most will appreciate the benefits and flexibility that technology provides them.
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