March 9th, 2017

Technology_help_coach_sales_repsYour high performing sales reps have a tremendous impact on revenue growth. If you’re lucky you’ll have a handful of them, but the reality is the majority of your reps will be performing at average or worse. What if you could identify the capabilities that your top sales reps have (and what makes them win) and replicate these across your sales team?

After all, building capability is a

top priority for CXOs

, and

according to McKinsey

coaching sales reps has the biggest impact on capability development. This means that coaching is no longer a nice-to-have but a business imperative. But for coaching to be effective it needs to be targeted. Targeted coaching (using a scientific approach) ensures your reps develop the capabilities to become successful.

The first step in creating a sales coaching process is to identify objectively what specific areas your individual reps need to be coached on. Then you need to determine the best way to coach your reps, rather than just telling them their gaps.

Create a culture of coaching

High-performance sales teams and sales coaching best practices go hand in hand. But sales coaching is often driven by managers who don’t have the time, tools, skills or data to coach effectively. And in most cases, it’s implemented in a haphazard manner that reflects the sales manager’s own personal whims and biases.

By putting in place a central system with predefined coaching workflows you can ensure that your sales managers receive the guidance they need to coach effectively and stay on plan. Technology gives you a highly scalable approach to rapidly identify, build, and sustain the targeted coaching needed to continuously improve performance and deliver impact. This will ultimately lead to more predictable sales behaviors and revenue.

1. Provide a structure

Sales coaching isn’t an ad-hoc or one size fits all activity. That’s why it’s important to have a plan that outlines which capabilities need to be developed and what role different stakeholders will play in the process to ensure their sales coaching is effective.

The first step towards structuring your sales coaching is to have a

sales coaching plan

. Typically there are three parts to a sales coaching plan – knowledge, skill, and process. Depending on what your businesses are, you’ll weight each of these attributes differently and may assign coaching accountability to different stakeholders.

A sales enablement platform like MindTickle helps you define rules and automate processes a

round coaching – triggering a coaching event, facilitating manager and salesperson interaction, and driving visibility to different stakeholders through analytics.

2. Makes collaboration easier

While it’s always great to collaborate in person, that’s near impossible when you’ve got salespeople all over the country. Rather than wait months until your next sales kickoff you can use technology so your

subject matter experts can to coach your reps

. For example, our Product Manager Daniel sits in San Francisco and provides coaching to our rep Beverlie in Boston directly through our sales enablement platform. Workflows are set up to remind our experts to provide their feedback promptly and our sales rep receives it directly to her mobile device.
This process also works at a large scale as one of our customers has found. With over 700 sales reps distributed across the world, they’re able to provide specialist coaching to each rep on three capabilities they’ve identified – selling skills, demo and account based demand generation. For each capability, they’ve identified specific areas that reps need to excel at. They also have subject matter experts to coach reps on each scenario through role plays and on the job coaching.

Another example is ForeScout who uses technology

to help managers and SMEs collaborate during their sales onboarding process. In a process they call the “Pitch Back” they leverage MindTickle by having reps record practice pitches so their experts can hear how they’re using their onboarding knowledge in sales calls. The experts and managers can then provide feedback and coaching to the rep in real time through the app.  

3. Makes stakeholder accountable

Workflows not only make it easier to collaborate, but they also hold everyone in the process accountable. For example, by allocating coaching modules to each sales rep you can ensure that everyone’s needs are covered. Managers typically focus on lagging indicators and tactical coaching but do not focus much time on strategic skill development. The middle 60% can really benefit by getting coaching on core capabilities.

In fact, research has found

that it’s in the middle 60% where sales coaching can have its biggest impact on performance.

Technology can provide a simple way to check that all reps are being given the attention they require and that coaching is having the maximum effect possible.

A technology platform like MindTickle provides relevant stakeholders with contextual notifications, coaching tasks and visibility over the progress that is being made by reps and managers in the coaching process.  

Transparency is key to the process and technology facilitates this.

4. Enable peer to peer learning

Coaching isn’t just about learning from your manager, it’s also about developing sales skills by finding out how the best do it. That’s why sharing best practices across your organization is important. This is easier if you have a small sales team and everyone is located in the same office.

But what do you do if you have a distributed field sales team or a large inside sales team?

The best way to facilitate (and automate) peer to peer learning is by leveraging technology.

A technology platform like MindTickle makes identifying expert knowledge and sharing it with a large sales team seamless and automated.

5. Share success stories

Watching role plays and pitches is just one way the reps can learn from each other.

Success stories

are another effective way to motivate and inspire your reps.

There are several advantages to reps sharing how they won that big deal or closed a challenging sale.

  • It cross-pollinates proven techniques across geographical boundaries

  • Builds a sales culture that encourages sharing and learning

  • Gives a pretty great ego boost to the successful rep

By leveraging technology, you can ensure that your sales reps are given the best opportunity to be successful. Technology provides not only structure and accountability but also enables your sales managers to make decisions about what their reps need to be coached on and even facilitates how they are coached. This increases your reps confidence so they’re ready to have those difficult conversations with customers.

Practical guide to coaching new hires