More than 70 percent of leading companies say sales coaching is the most important role of a front-line sales manager. But less than 20 percent of the average sales leader’s time is spent on proactive sales coaching.
This doesn’t make sense. Especially when research shows that sales coaching is the best productivity investment to improve performance.
One likely culprit for this phenomenon? Sales leaders don’t prioritize regular coaching sessions because they feel the exercise is ineffective. And it could be, if you don’t have the right foundation.
That’s where this post comes in. Here are three major sales coaching mistakes and how you can fix them.
3 major sales coaching mistakes
1. Key selling behaviors aren’t defined.
Sales is more than just closing deals. It’s a cascading chain of controllable behaviors that lead to a defined outcome. When those controllable steps of the sales process aren’t defined, reps struggle to develop their own process through trial and error.
One rep may pound the phones all day, but never follow up with leads. Another could get caught up in what’s closing and forget to generate new opportunities. It’s chaos. Your reps perform myriad activities at varying levels without consistency, accountability or adherence to a process. How can you coach around that?
Your team needs a consistent sales process with defined key selling activities, such as opportunities created, VP-level conversations, proposals sent and deals won. This drives focus in sales coaching. Your reps know what activities they should spend their time on, and you know which behaviors to monitor and coach. (Learn how to define your key selling activities here.)
2. Sales activities aren’t tracked.
Don’t treat your sales process like a black box (i.e., You only understand that leads go in and sales come out.) You must look at activities in the same way a math professor needs students to show their work: to understand how they reached a certain result (good or bad).
If a rep wins a deal, you need to recognize what steps they took so that you can replicate their success with other reps. When they lose, the activity data should help you identify where things went wrong.
Use a sales scorecard to track the day-to-day activities of sales reps and pinpoint exactly where you need to coach. As part of a sales activity management system, it will automatically measure activity and pacing to goal in real time.
3. Performance data isn’t real-time.
Modern sales coaching is driven by metrics. You need objective data to actually manage and coach sales performance. Otherwise, you’re merely guessing what, where and when to coach.
In addition, your team craves feedback. An important part of your job is to help reps understand how they’re performing every day. But you can’t do that when activity data isn’t visible to all members of your team.
Sure, you could look at a dashboard. But that report contains lagging information, only showing you what has happened in the past. Accessible, real-time data allows reps to make better decisions about where they spend time. Sales leaders need it to monitor and course-correct performance the moment it falls out of line.
A sales activity tracker measures leading metrics in real time, alerting reps and leaders when progress to goal is off pace and what they need to do about it.
Remember that sales coaching must happen on a regular basis. Set up one-on-ones with each of your reps once a week or once every two weeks, then coach with consistently.