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3 ways to increase your sales coaching ROI

Updated: Mar 14

April 23, 2022|Leadership, Sales, Team Effectiveness

“I keep telling them they should do it this way, but it’s not sticking”, a sales leader I was talking with last week lamented. Most of us can appreciate where they were coming from, at least at times. It’s frustrating when you feel like you’ve set and reinforced expectations over and over. You’ve told them how, you’ve showed them how, you’ve reminded them again, and it isn’t working. It’s time for a different approach.

Coaching one of many tools in a manager’s toolset, but one of the most powerful for transforming performance. It’s a way to connect and communicate with your employee that’s completely focused on them. Coaching means engaging with someone in an empowering way that helps them discover new possibilities and unlock their potential.

Coaching focuses on potential
Coaching focuses on potential

There is no shortage of research showing the multi-fold impact of effective sales coaching. According to CSO Insights, effective coaching increases win rates by 28 percent and quota attainment by 10 percent. That’s the bottom line impact, but it doesn’t stop there. In today’s challenging talent market, coaching might also be the best thing you can do to get your employees to stay with you, and stay engaged.

So it’s hard to argue the ROI of coaching. But higher ROI on any development is always better, right? Here are three ways to increase the payoff of your coaching efforts:

  1. Coach the skills more than the deal. Gartner research suggests that strategic, skills-focused coaching (versus deal-level coaching) is more effective in the longer term. Spend time on effective entrance strategies, rather than the way in to that one, specific company, for example. That skill-focused coaching is more likely to be applied to future opportunities as well.

  2. Coach earlier in the sales process. When your sales rep has a big deal on the line, it might seem like the best way to help is swooping in for the close. They might get tough objections they can’t handle, right? But more uplift actually comes by coaching earlier in the sales process. Deals that are opened well by confident reps usually won’t need your help to close.

  3. Spend more time on the mid-level team members. We’ve seen well-intended sales managers spend the vast majority of their development time with their low performers and/or completely ignore their high-performers development. In reality, sales reps (and humans) of all levels benefit from effective coaching. But where is the highest payoff? Ensure you are spending a fair amount of your coaching time with your mid-level performers. These are folks that are doing well enough, but have POTENTIAL for more. The Sales Readiness Group suggests spending 60% of your time on mid-level team members, 25% on high-level, and only 15% on low-skill level team members. This will help you get return, but still coach everyone.

These three strategies can help you get the most of your 1:1 coaching efforts. But if you want to level-up your coaching even further, create a coaching culture where it is the norm for everyone to provide feedback and guidance to each other and themselves. Sound like a pipedream? It’s not! We love a method called Feed Forward for this. It’s the opposite of feedback because it’s future-focused, uplifting and energizing. Bet you wouldn’t describe your last feedback session that way. Make development conversations positive and fun and they are likely to keep happening.

Finally, it’s no secret that the sales managers job is a tricky one. This role has highly visible results, a highly subjective process, and incredibly diverse demands on the leaders time. Yet, only 1 in 5 sales managers has had any kind of formal development. If you want to dramatically increase the likelihood of success for your sales team (and therefore your organization), invest in your sales managers!

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