Most sales managers know that sales coaching is an important part of their role. Good coaching helps reps become better salespeople by improving their skills and increasing engagement with the organization, which in turn improves revenue.
But knowing that coaching is important is the easy part. Actually implementing it can be tricky.
In most cases, sales managers don’t have a consistent coaching cadence because of a lack of training and tools:
- Most managers are promoted reps who were really good at selling. That doesn’t automatically mean that they’re going to be good managers or coaches. They need to be trained.
- Most sales management tools fixate on forecast rather than how to fix the forecast. In other words, these tools simply tell the user that the forecast is off, not the behaviors that need to be fixed to improve the forecast.
To develop a successful coaching action plan for sales managers, you need to approach this issue on these two fronts. Lucky for you, this blog details the benefits of sales coaching and how to actually get started implementing an action plan for your sales reps.
The Benefits of Coaching
Sales managers are notorious for being incredibly busy, so it’s totally understandable if you’re not yet convinced that sales coaching is actually worth the time and effort.
Here are some of the key benefits of sales coaching:
Higher Rep Productivity
According to Gartner, sales managers can unlock an 8 percent improvement in sales performance through effective coaching. By identifying the areas where a rep needs improvement, they can develop short-term and long-term goals to help them improve on performance and productivity.
Better Rep Retention
Studies have shown that ongoing training and coaching improves morale, employee engagement, and retention. Sales reps are more likely to stay with an organization if they feel that they are improving as a salesperson. During The Great Resignation, this is more important than ever.
Higher Rep Effort
Coaching is all about getting into a consistent cadence. During these meetings, reps and managers discuss the rep’s performance based on the data gathered on their performance metrics. From there, the rep and manager agree to short-term goals that they need to meet each week, which means they know exactly where they need to focus their efforts.
More Top Performers
You can compare rep performance by using a sales management platform that tracks data based on performance metrics. Having access to this data allows you to set reasonable goals for your reps. It also allows you to set stretch goals for middle-of-the-road reps to see if they can start performing on a metric at the level of a top performer. We’re obviously biased towards Atrium, but you can also do this in Salesforce or a powerful BI tool if you’ve got the resources.
Putting a Coaching Action Plan for Sales Managers into Action
Before going over an awesome coaching action plan for sales managers, let’s get clear about what sales coaching is and isn’t:
- Coaching isn’t going over deal review and strategy. This is important, but it focuses on the deal and not the behaviors of the rep. Developing a rep can mean more deals get closed, but closing more deals doesn’t mean a rep is developing.
- Coaching is monitoring a rep’s performance by tracking a set of metrics and finding ways to improve the areas where the rep is underperforming.
To make sure you are coaching, you need to systematize the process. Here’s what this looks like:
Get Coaching Sessions on the Calendar
The first step to coaching is both the easiest and hardest: Get the sessions on the calendar. If they’re not built into your schedule, they aren’t going to happen. They can be weekly or biweekly, depending on what works best for you, but the bottom line is that they need to be prioritized. Remember, calendar is destiny.
In these sessions, review the rep’s performance metrics and coaching initiatives. This meeting shouldn’t be about deals but rather areas where the rep could improve and strategies they can implement to fix a performance issue before it becomes a problem.
Get Your Hands on Data Assets
Coaching isn’t about “going with your gut.” Every conversation and decision needs to be based on your data assets. This allows the rep and manager to be on the same page (literally and figuratively).
Maybe you notice a dip in opps created. What are the drivers that influence that KPI? Has there been a downward trend in emails sent? There’s your answer: Set a goal to hit a certain number of emails, and an increase in opps created will follow.
Organize Your Sessions Based on Past, Present, and Future
On an ongoing basis, each meeting should be based on agenda items, questions to be answered, and supporting data.
These sessions look something like this:
- Follow up on goals from the previous week (past)
- Study the data of the current day (present)
- Agree on action items to mediate any performance issues (future)
As you can see, coaching is an ongoing process that requires looping back to ensure the strategies are working. Because this is an ongoing process, it requires an audit from time to time, so stay flexible and trust the data.
Root Your Coaching in Data with a Sales Management Platform
If a coaching action plan for sales managers is all about making observations and decisions based on data, you need a data-driven sales management platform that collects and creates visuals of that data.
From calls to emails and opps created, every data point can be located in the data-driven sales management program, making it easy for you to make accurate, data-driven coaching decisions.