Coaching Solutions Guide Reps to Sales Success
Innovation steps in where sales training leaves off.
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As we approach the start of 2015, many sales management teams are working on fine-tuning their company's revenue goals for the coming year. Let me take the mystery out of this equation for you: The sales targets in the new year will be higher than they were in the past; they always are. And when these quotas are given to the sales teams on January 2, they will typically be accompanied by sales training sessions designed to educate salespeople on what the company wants them to do to that will enable them to hit those targets.

They will be told that what we want them to do is call on executives in the C-suite, be challenging, create a sense of urgency, differentiate their company's products or services versus those of the competition, sell value, etc. But often that is where the training ends, leaving salespeople asking a key question: "Just how do you expect me to accomplish those things?" Innovations in CRM are stepping in to take over where sales training leaves off, and provide the how of selling. Consider the following examples.

One of the first tasks we want sales teams to do is develop strategic account plans for key accounts. CRM solution developer Revegy offers a sales effectiveness platform to enable that process. Revegy's product guides salespeople on how to create relationship maps and strategy maps for each of their key prospects. It then integrates those plans into the company's CRM system so they become part of the rep's daily workflow, versus potentially valuable information hidden away in a binder somewhere in a file cabinet.

Are your salespeople struggling with how to motivate prospects to move forward with their buy cycle? 5600blue provides salespeople with a cloud-based system that gives them on-demand access to the customer-focused knowledge and insights they need to effectively engage stakeholders at every stage in the sales process.

CloudCoachingInternational (CCi) enables salespeople to dynamically access the sales intelligence from the rest of their company. As sales reps navigate within their CRM system, CCi's KnowledgeNow solution sees what the rep is working on and automatically launches videos that present best practices for executing specific selling tasks. Think of this as virtual sales coaching available 24/7.

The CSO Insights 2014 Sales Management Optimization survey found that the average win rate of forecast deals today is 45.9 percent. Being wrong 54.1 percent of the time means that things are going on in the sales process that salespeople are not aware of. CRM solutions offered by firms such as ClearSlide and Tellwise can help salespeople determine how serious prospects are about doing business with them by continually monitoring and analyzing clients' digital body language. If the prospect tells you that you are the front runner for getting a deal but is not reviewing any of the support materials shared with him, the rep is notified so he knows to take proactive action.

CRM is also helping sales managers do their jobs more effectively. Systems such as Aviso and Collective[i] constantly monitor the progress of deals as they flow through the pipeline. When the systems detect that a particular forecast opportunity is at risk, they notify the manager as to which salesperson needs help and with what deals, and how to more effectively coach that person to get the deal back on track.

These are just a few of the ways CRM technology is evolving into something that actually helps sales teams sell more effectively. So as you get ready to tell your sales force what goals you want them to hit in the coming year, spend some thing thinking about what your organization can be doing to help them figure out how to reach them.

Jim Dickie is a partner with CSO Insights, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking CRM and sales effectiveness initiatives. He can be reached at jim.dickie@csoinsights.com.

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