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Reality Check: Dynamic Sales Coaching Can Help Your Players (Sales Reps) Win
Leaving your coaching to an informal process at the discretion of managers will lead to blown deals
Posted Nov 10, 2017
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Having recently attended and presented at several sales conferences, I’m hearing the buzz around sales enablement, sales transformation, sales optimization, etc., getting louder and louder. Faced with ever-increasing revenue goals, more global competition, and higher customer expectations—just to name a few things keeping sales leaders awake at night—companies are looking for ways to increase sales efficiency and effectiveness.

What I found interesting at these events was most of the conversation revolved around what salespeople are going to have to do differently. Clearly, they are part of the equation. But so are the people leading those sales teams, and I do not think enough thought is going into what sales managers are going to have to do differently as well. That is a serious error, and let me explain why.

Forgive the sports analogy, but if you think of salespeople as the athletes on the field playing the game, then sales managers are the coaches. Their role is to help those athletes perform at their best. So how are they doing that? To answer that question, we asked the more than 1,200 participants in CSO Insights’ “2017 World Class Sales Practices (WCSP)” study to share with us the approach their company used to coach their sales teams.

We found that 34.7 percent of firms left the when/how of coaching up to the discretion of the individual sales manager, and another 35 percent stated that they had an informal coaching process in place. A formal coaching process had been adopted by 19 percent of the survey participants. Finally, 11.3 percent of sales organizations took coaching a step further and implemented a dynamic sales process, defined as a formal process combined with CRM capabilities in place to monitor, evaluate, and support that coaching process.

When I see a wide range of opinions on an issue, it always raises the question of whether it really makes a difference which option you choose. The chart here shows the results of an analysis of the WCSP study data looking at the win rate of forecast deals with regards to the coaching approach taken by a company.

The answer to the question is crystal clear: It makes a big difference, and the nearly 70 percent of firms surveyed that are taking a random or informal approach to sales coaching are making a fundamental mistake. And while we should applaud the “formal process” adopters for getting their act together, they are still not achieving their full potential, because they’re not going a step further and involving CRM technology to enable the coaching process.

Looking at the CRM landscape, I have had a chance to review solid options to support turning a formal coaching process into a dynamic one. Core CRM solution providers like Salesforce.com, Microsoft, Oracle, and others have been making significant strides in implementing sales management dashboards and analytics. Other firms, like Revegy, 5600blue, and Xvoyant, have been enhancing their sales performance management platforms. Emerging AI solutions, like the ones covered in my September column (“Salespeople Face an Uphill Battle, and AI Is Ready to Help”), can also have a big impact here. So as we approach 2018, it is time for a New Year’s resolution for sales management to formalize how you are coaching your sales teams—and leveraging technology to make it happen.


Jim Dickie—independent research director and cofounder of CSO Insights, a Division of Miller Heiman Group—specializes in benchmarking CRM and sales enablement initiatives. He can be reached at jimdickie@icloud.com or on Twitter at @jimdickie.

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