Ever wonder how your favorite sports teams got to where they are today? Although there are some naturally talented players on the field, most teams are successful because of data-driven coaching.
These days, coaching in sports isn’t based on simple observation and intuition. Instead, it is centered around data collection. The same goes for sales coaching.
You might be wondering why a sales manager should coach. Isn’t their primary role to ensure deals get closed? Sure, deal strategy and inspection are important, but wouldn’t these tasks be much easier if sales reps were continuously improving?
That’s where coaching comes in. With data-driven coaching, sales managers can:
- Improve overall team performance.
- Increase rep productivity.
- Produce top performers.
- Boost rep retention.
In other words, good things happen when you coach.
Ready to learn more about the benefits of data-driven coaching and implement a better coaching strategy? This blog post leads the way.
Why Do Managers Struggle with Coaching?
Sales managers have a ton on their plate. But if coaching was just a task management issue, it could probably get taken care of pretty quickly.
Instead, most sales managers struggle with coaching because:
- They lack the training and tools needed to succeed.
- Management enablement tends to be an afterthought.
- Most sales management tools focus on forecasting rather than improving forecasting (i.e., finding areas of improvement for a team or individual rep)
Basically, without tools to provide insights into team and rep performance, sales managers focus primarily on deal inspection and strategy. However, deals come and go, whereas improving a rep’s performance has long-term benefits.
However, just investing in these tools won’t cut it. According to a McKinsey & Company article, far too many sales organizations invest in tools but don’t provide the proper training. So how can sales managers put the data into action?
Putting Data into Action
When using data, sales managers can see the truth of their team’s performance and leverage that information to make improvements. In other words, by using data, you’re not shooting from the hip to coach. Instead, you are seeing where a rep needs improvement and where they are staying steady.
When it comes to leverage, data helps to identify low leverage and high leverage areas:
- Low leverage can be riding along on calls or closing deals for your rep. You never know if you are on a good or bad call, which can skew your idea of the rep’s performance. According to research from Gartner, the top 25 percent of sales managers consider helping sellers close deals a low priority.
- High leverage is using data to see a problem coming down the pike—such as a bookings problem in 30 days—due to an issue with metrics that drive the bookings key performance indicator (KPI).
Using data, you can observe performance issues, orient to understand the exact problem, decide on a plan of action, execute the action, and loop back to audit the process.
What Is Coaching?
This seems like a simple question, but unless you break it down into its primary components, it can be complicated. The step-by-step process of coaching includes:
- Observing the situation to understand what’s wrong.
- Orienting to identify the exact performance issue.
- Deciding what will drive resolution.
- Acting on the decision to resolve the problem.
- Looping back to determine if the process worked.
So what does this look like in an environment in which data isn’t used versus one in which data is used?
“Ugh, I didn’t see that.”
“I can see something weird happening with this metric.”
“I’ll ask the rep some questions.”
“I’m going to dig into the data that has some problematic changes.”
“How do I know if I’m right?”
“Ah, that’s what’s wrong.”
“I’m not sure what to do. I’m feeling paralyzed.”
“Here's what we’re going to do to resolve this issue.”
As you can see, the outcomes of the two situations are very different. However, you don’t get here without a solid, systematized process.
Systematizing Your Coaching Strategy
Let’s see what the above strategy looks like in action through a systematized process.
Preparing for the 1:1
To prepare for a sales manager and sales rep 1:1, three things need to happen:
- The manager creates the agenda.
- The manager and sales operations team create the data assets.
- The manager schedules and preps for the 1:1 meeting.
From there, the 1:1 meeting follows a looping process based on the data.
Looping Back to Continue Improving
Sales managers need to perform continual audits based on new performance data. Here’s what this looks like:
- The manager reviews data assets and identifies issues.
- The manager preps questions based on the data and prepares a coaching solution.
- The manager and rep discuss the data.
- The manager and rep agree on actions to be taken.
From there, the next steps are fed into the following week’s agenda, allowing managers to track progress.
Track and Visualize Data with a Robust Sales Management Platform
At this point, we know data provides leverage to improve rep performance and coaching decisions. However, data doesn’t mean anything without a data-driven sales management platform like Atrium to track performance metrics and visualize data.
Need more than just a taste of what it means to be a data-driven sales coach? Check out this masterclass on coaching.