Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a coach as “one who instructs or trains a player in the fundamentals of a sport and directs the game strategy.” Coaching is an important driver in improving the effectiveness of sales in the field. In a SiriusDecisions benchmark of sales talent, we found that 58 percent of reps rate coaching as extremely or very important. Among top-performing reps, 69 percent stated that input on account strategy was very or extremely important – and 67 percent said that they value individual input on sales skills.
Ideally, coaching starts with an invitation to the individual to self-assess and includes specific feedback tailored to the individual to make a change. Change occurs when the individual understands what he or she needs to change and is motivated to make the corrections. Two new trends have emerged in the growing focus on coaching sales reps: the automation of sales managers’ coaching efforts, and the creation of a dedicated field coach. However, the implementation of tools and dedicated coaches can be costly.
Organizations that cannot afford these tools should consider defining and selecting a coaching methodology that is rolled out to all sales managers and supported by a management process and culture that reinforces a coaching mindset. Managers of sales managers should inspect to ensure coaching is taking place by holding skip-level meetings to check on impact.
Coaching methodologies generally include six essential practices. Here are the first three:
Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll discuss three other essential elements of coaching b-to-b sales reps!
Nancy Maluso is a Research Director of Sales Enablement Strategies at SiriusDecisions. Nancy is a seasoned practitioner with more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership, sales enablement and product management, along with marketing roles at organizations of all sizes. Follow Nancy on Twitter @nmaluso1.