The Case for Technology-Enabled Sales Coaching
While much gets written about what CRM can do to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of sales professionals, there is another part of the sales organization that is discussed far less often—first-line sales managers. If your salespeople are the players on the team, then their managers can be viewed as their coaches. The role of a coach is not to play the game; it’s to make sure the team executes as well as possible.
As part of Sales Mastery’s 2022 Sales Performance Scorecard study, we decided to explore the topic of sales coaching in-depth, gathering a dozen metrics related to how companies execute this aspect of sales management. One key area of interest was what type of approach companies used to deliver sales coaching.
Across the 500-plus firms we surveyed, we found that coaching methods fell into three camps: 68 percent of the study participants used a random or informal approach to coaching; 10 percent had a formal coaching certification program; and the remaining 22 percent had a formal coaching certification program that was bolstered by analytics and artificial intelligence.
With that breakdown established, we then drilled into the data to see what, if any, performance difference we could find related to which of the three sales coaching styles a company adopted. As the goal of coaching is to help the team execute at its fullest potential, and as sales is a game played to close deals, we looked at the percentage of a sales organization’s overall revenue goal attainment as a measure of effective coaching. The chart below summarizes the results of that analysis.
Here we see that a company electing to move to a formal coaching process leads to an uptick in revenue plan attainment, which in today’s sales environment is something any chief revenue officer (CRO) would welcome. But the real figure of interest is what happens to plan attainment when you provide sales managers with technology to support their coaching. An 8 percent increase in revenue attainment is not just something of interest to the CRO; this is something that would clearly get the attention of the board of directors.
In benchmarking technology-enabled sales coaching programs, we find two key advantages of this approach. The first is that technology can monitor what each salesperson is doing. Based on an understanding of what best sales practices look like, the systems can do virtual coaching, making recommendations for what sales professionals could do to maximize their effectiveness on specific opportunities.
In addition to taking on some of the coaching tasks, technology can also provide feedback to sales managers on which of their salespeople need one-on-one coaching, and on what topics. This then supports managers doing coaching-by-exception, spending the time they've allotted for coaching as effectively as possible.
The numbers demonstrate a clear case for the impact of sales coaching on sales teams’ performance. So as we consider what we can do differently to optimize revenues going forward, bringing more science to the art of sales coaching should be near the top of the list.
Jim Dickie is a research fellow for Sales Mastery, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking case study examples of how companies are leveraging technology to transform sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jimdickie.
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