One of the most important aspects in high performing sales organizations is sales managers’ ability to coach and give effective feedback. This was one of the main findings in ProSales research, “Performance management in B2B sales.” But how can sales managers coach and give feedback effectively? Here are 5 tips to get the best out of your sales performance coaching efforts.
Sales managers are realizing that annual performance reviews are not enough. Many of the world’s leading organizations use ongoing coaching and feedback to improve sales performance. However, it requires the adoption of new ways of working. Here are 5 tips that will help you to get started.
1. Measure what is important – not what’s easy to measure
Sales organizations keep track of monthly, quarterly and yearly revenues. Those metrics are easy to capture and track, but if that is all you measure, is that enough information to manage sales performance? In reality, metrics such as revenue only show past performance. They do not tell you anything about salespeople’s daily performance in the field nor provide visibility into how certain activities will impact future performance.
Therefore, successful coaching starts with identifying the key performance indicators that impact results the most, not just the ones that are easy to measure. So if you want to improve performance, you need to pay attention to activities and behaviors (slightly more difficult to measure) known to positively influence results. A few examples of behavioral metrics to track are the following:
- number of sales calls per day or week
- number of customer visits per close deal
- customer satisfaction
2. Distinguish between traditional and complex sales logics
Once you know what behaviors and activities to measure, you need to recognize that traditional and complex B2B sales require different activities and behaviors. ProSales research showed that organizations that steer and manage their sales according to the purchase complexity of their business deals, (sales logics) have better profitability and higher growth levels.
Organizations that fail to implement one set of KPIs for traditional sales and another set of KPIs for complex sales will be more likely perform below its full potential. It will be inefficient to, for example, measure complex sales teams by the number of sales calls per week or by the length of sales cycle. Not sure what KPIs to use for each sales logic? download our report.
3. Allocate time for sales performance coaching
Dedicate time to coach and give feedback to salespeople who need your support and guidance. Quantitative data will help you to track performance as well as to identify areas of improvement, but is only through systematic dialogue, coaching and feedback that salespeople develop.
The time you spend coaching and providing feedback can make a world of difference. Find moments to spend time together with salespeople and you will build the foundation to improve performance. Therefore, it needs to be part of your agenda. Wondering what works and what doesn’t work in regards to sales coaching? Register to the upcoming seminar as soon as possible.
4. Consider using sales coaching tools to collect data
Now there’s software that can gather real-time information about how well salespeople are doing. If you don’t have time to follow salespeople to customer meetings, consider using sales coaching tools as an alternative method to gather information.
Besides the benefit of capturing information faster and smarter, it enables you to track remote sales teams. You can track performance and coach sales teams regardless of their geographical location. Reports and dashboard can be accessed from any channel: mobile, social channels and web.
In addition, sales coaching tools eliminate the biggest limitation from other methods such as direct observation. With direct observation you can gather subtle feedback and see first-hand how salespeople interact with customers, but it can be too intrusive. Salespeople’s behavior and customers’ reaction may be influenced by your presence. This is a serious limitation. If you want to evaluate salespeople’s natural behavior in the field – when they are on their own– you need to adopt digital coaching solutions.
5. Listen to the voice of the customer
Lastly, I recommend to rely on more than one single source of information. It is important to assess sales performance through the eyes of the customer. It gives you a broader perspective and allows you to maintain a careful focus on customer needs and satisfaction. To sustain sales performance over time, managers must incorporate the voice of the customer into performance coaching practices. Here are examples of important information to gather from customers:
- How do customers see and experience us?
- How satisfied are our customers?
- What drives customer value?
- Is our offer relevant to their current needs?
- How much are they willing to pay?
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