June 28th, 2021

man doing sales coaching on laptop

As a sales leader, you know the impact of effective sales coaching — it’s the key to maximizing your team’s potential. In fact, it probably isn’t surprising that companies that provide quality coaching can reach 7% greater annual revenue growth.

The problem is that for too long, sales managers have relied on a one-size-fits-all coaching playbook and hoped for the best. But with sellers entering more competitive markets, it’s time to hit reset. Not only should sales coaching be personalized to each rep, but it should also be backed by data. 

If you’re ready to take the guesswork out of making the most of sales coaching conversations, read on to find out how you can use data to take a more strategic approach to sales coaching and ultimately help your team win more deals. 

Why coaching conversations must change

Having conversations about performance can be hard, especially if a rep isn’t doing well. It can be especially difficult to call out areas for improvement when you don’t have the specifics to back it up. Relying on data makes these conversations easier and more productive.

For sales managers, being able to track and analyze seller performance all in one place using sales readiness software provides concrete insight into every time you say, “You’re doing a great job,” or “There’s room for improvement.” Your feedback is rooted in actual performance metrics, rather than anecdotal feedback or opinions. 

mindtickle sales capability index

Data also identifies the exact ways each seller can improve. Perhaps one rep is weaker in competitive intelligence while another needs more support with operating sales technology. By digging into the data, sales managers can identify opportunities for improvement and, in turn, maximize each rep’s performance.

What a data-driven approach looks like

To adopt a data-driven coaching approach, start with a clear understanding of the key metrics to track. These will help gauge the overall success of your sales force, but really allow you to dig into individual performance to fuel more impactful coaching conversations. 

Below we’ve highlighted some key criteria you’ll want to evaluate — and how you can gather the data.

Product knowledge: Assess and certify sellers on their product knowledge with quizzes using different formats. You can create a proficiency threshold score for reps to show they’re knowledgeable on your product, which you can test through multiple choice quizzes, checklists and written tests. 

Reps can also be assigned role-plays to see if they can demo the product, describe what it does and accurately express the value of the product. If you’re using sales readiness technology, all of this can be easily reviewed and scored through artificial intelligence (AI). 

Selling behavior: Evaluate how articulate and enthusiastic a rep is on a call, voicemail or presentation as well as the tone. You can also keep track of how many filler words are used. This will gauge their overall confidence in selling your solution. 

Selling skills: By tracking sellers’ progress in real-time, sales managers can get data on each rep’s ability to demo, use a sales methodology (e.g. MEDDPIC) on a call, challenge competition, handle objections and evaluate whether or message the product correctly. Real-time data from conversation intelligence also gives visibility into how to move deals forward. 

Message consistency: AI-powered keyword analysis is a great way for sales coaches to get better insight into individual competencies and needs based on live interactions during the selling process. When you analyze sales calls (and leave the hard work to AI), you can uncover why deals didn’t close and start training on common questions reps are asked.

Technology skills: How well do your reps use sales tools? Assess sellers on their knowledge (and correct use) of sales stack tools like Outreach, Ring, Zoom and Salesforce to see how effectively they’re being put into action. 

Using a sales readiness platform, reps can actually record themselves using the tools, which can then be evaluated and scored. This will give sales coaches visibility into any challenges or inefficiencies on the team. 

Competitive knowledge: Gauge how well your sellers understand the competition by rolling out quick updates or instructor-led training sessions, followed by quizzes that test their knowledge of the material covered.

Sales process: See how well your sales team understands your organization’s sales process, including what reps are expected to do at each stage. With a sales readiness platform, you can have this information available as an on-demand resource, then use virtual role-plays to evaluate your team’s understanding. 

Why is continuous training and coaching so valuable?

We all know that in a fast-paced sales role, it’s important to stay on top of your skills in order to get ahead. But it’s the companies that really commit to a culture of continuous learning that see results from their efforts. In fact, best-in-class companies that enlist a training plan see their sales reps reach higher quotas by 31%, with a 10% increase in yearly corporate revenue.

What sets a winning sales training program apart lies in something called the “Forgetting Curve.” This formula shows that humans – sales reps included – forget 90% of new information after 30 days. That’s why continuous and spaced reinforcements have proven to be a much more successful way for reps to learn.

In order to truly hone their skills, reps need to be given ample opportunities to practice them. In turn, this gives leaders the chance to gain insights into their team’s proficiencies and weaknesses, allowing sales coaching to happen proactively rather than reactively. 

Your new approach to coaching starts now

On top of using data to coach reps, this data-driven approach also empowers you to establish a “profile of excellence” on your sales team. This helps sales managers to identify top performers and they’re then able to coach other sellers to replicate those behaviors. 

While it certainly makes it easier to track and report on these metrics with sales readiness technology in place, it’s not impossible to do without. However you gather the data, it’s important to incorporate it into coaching conversations in order to pinpoint areas for improvement, provide more specific feedback and ultimately empower your team to succeed. Now, who’s ready to start digging into some data?