How to Conduct Personalized Sales Coaching that Actually Works
The buyer journey continues to shift to a digital experience. In fact, it is estimated that your rep’s only get 5% of that buyer’s journey. And in that shortened window of time, they’re still expected to build trust, differentiate from competitors, and demonstrate value to close deals at the same rate. This puts an increased pressure on reps to optimize any and all touchpoints they have with their buyers. Additionally, it builds the responsibility of sales leaders and coaches to understand where reps are struggling and where to focus coaching efforts to make an impact, build sales rep confidence, and increase win rates.
However, those weekly/quarterly/yearly performance reviews are not always met with the enthusiasm that we would hope, and that can be from both sides of the table. There are a number of elements that factor into the success of holding effective sales coaching sessions, and with all the 3rd party sales services available today, it can be easy to think that more data holds the sole answer to our problems. However insightful these resources can be, it is critical that you utilize them with the right strategies and tactics in place; resulting in personalized sales coaching that actually works.
Identify Opportunities & Define Good
More data is not always the answer. The answer, or maybe the starting point to discover the answer, is leveraging your data to identify coaching opportunities. Coaching opportunities that, as Steve Richard, Founder of ExecVision, shares, “can be like shooting stars, they are here and then they are gone.”
We sat down with Richards to discuss these opportunities, and he continued to share with us that the first step to effective personalized sales coaching is to make sure that coaches across an organization are on the same page. And the way they do this? By defining what good looks like. When an organization takes the time to do this, they then have a target, a place for the archer to aim. If an organization doesn’t define good, they don’t have a target and according to Richards, this is actually what a lot of companies do. They have not established a framework, which could allow them to understand so much more fully, where reps are deviating from the framework.
Coach the Right People
Another key insight from Richards is that people value more what they conclude for themselves than what they are told. We should probably all read that again. What this means is that sales coaches should be spending their time with reps that are ready to learn and eager to improve. Reps should have buy-in to believe that they should change their behavior and coincidentally, coaching the lowest performers doesn’t result in the most impactful change.
This mindset shift helps sales managers and coaches not fall into wasting too much time coaching a group that might not be motivated to, or have the same capacity to change when really the improvement of the conversion, the improvement of the win rate is really what coaches should be paying attention to.
Eliminate Coaching Bias
A coach has now defined good in their organization, and is focused on coaching the right people – so what’s next? Unfortunately, personalized sales coaching is often influenced by interpersonal relationships, which can impact the quality of coaching given to a rep. These interpersonal dynamics can create or affirm biases around why reps win and lose deals – so the truth behind why a deal results in a particular outcome can be unclear.
As sales leaders, we must ensure that we eliminate any bias within sales coaching to help each rep uncover their unique path to winning more.
This is where effectively utilizing sales intelligence comes in. Sales intelligence feels like a buzz word in 2022, but when used correctly, it can empower your sales team with the information they need to better demonstrate value, differentiate your solution from your competitors, and build trust with buyers. As a sales leader, utilize sales intelligence to get as close to the truth as possible to understand what’s really going on with your opportunities.
It Takes a Village
It can feel overwhelming for one single sales coach to feel that they need to make all the difference, even with the right strategies, environment, and people all in the mix. This is where optimizing time for personal rep growth comes in.
One way to optimize your time set aside for personal rep feedback, is to share it. The best sales coaches know when to use their time with one-on-one coaching and when to outsource. The following tactics can lend to be very effective:
- Manager swapping – in a team of ten, there may be an average of two reps who are not clicking with a particular manager or their management style. When organizations have multiple sales teams across an organization, this lends to a great opportunity to swap team members around – and let the results speak for themselves.
- Small group coaching – Small group coaching, especially from a second level leader (those who manage the sales managers) can prove extremely effective. Reps tend to take these meetings more seriously because of the level of leadership and engage more actively. Another tip is to make these invitation-based meetings. When other reps (likely those who have expressed or shown little desire to train and be coached) realize they are missing an opportunity, it helps remind them that coaching is a privilege and often can create new intrinsic motivation in reps where that may have faded.
- Peer-to-Peer Coaching – By pairing reps up based on strengths and weaknesses, your team can learn from each other and break out of the biases around why a rep thinks they win and lose. Peer-to-peer coaching also helps to eliminate biases that may come from interpersonal dynamics between sales leaders and sales reps.
- Share your Library – Every sales manager and coach has a library that they have built from the start of their career – favorite blogs to follow, podcasts to listen to, books, webinars, newsletters, linkedin thought-leaders, etc. Take some time to lay these out in a simple document highlighting their main topics/why you follow them. As you coach individually, personally offer these resources to your reps, tailoring the offer to their individual goals and areas that they could improve.
By identifying opportunities, defining your good, coaching the right people without bias, and sharing in some coaching responsibilities with other managers and resources available to you, you’ll be able to help your reps optimize their time with their buyers and uncover their unique path to winning more.
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