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coaching The Business Case for Sales Coaching NORMAN BEHAR


Sales coaching empowers sales reps to improve selling skills and close more business. Industry research backs this up. For example, CSO Insights has uncovered the rela- tionship between companies that have coaching programs that exceed expectations and the percentage of sales reps achieving quota.


PERCENTAGE OF REPS MAKING QUOTA Based on this definition, the reasons why reps benefit


from sales coaching are straightforward. Those who are well coached have better selling skills and strong indus- try and product knowledge. They also know how to think strategically about sales opportunities to generate higher, more profitable sales.


RESPONSE #2: “I DON’T FEEL I HAVE ENOUGH TIME” Sales managers work extremely long hours, especially when you take into account traveling, preparing fore- casts, and attending internal meetings. In most cases, however, a significant amount of their time is spent in their role as chief problem solver, as opposed to “sales enabler.” They often find themselves responding to sales reps’ requests for assistance to resolve client issues and opportunities. While this may have great short-term benefit in terms of closing more business, it undermines what should be their longer- term objective, which is to help sales reps learn to solve many of these problems on their own. For example, a sales manager may be able to tell a


Source: CSO Insights, Sales Performance Optimization – Sales Process Analysis


REPS ACHIEVING QUOTA Despite the compelling research, most managers spend the bulk of their time on other activities (e.g., selling, preparing forecasts, attending meetings) and neglect to develop the one skill that can have the biggest impact on sales. At Sales Readiness Group, we’ve typically found that managers have four responses when we ask why they’re not investing more time in sales coaching:


1. They don’t understand the benefits of sales coaching. 2. They don’t feel they have enough time. 3. They’re concerned about hurting a sales rep’s confidence. 4. They’re not sure how to coach. These are all legitimate concerns.


RESPONSE #1: “I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS OF SALES COACHING”


Industry data is compelling, but it’s clearly not enough to prove the impact of sales coaching. Sales manag- ers need to understand why coaching has such a high return on investment. Let’s start by defining sales coach- ing: Sales coaching focuses on helping reps develop the skills, knowledge, and use of strategies that improve sales results.


24 | AUGUST 2015 SELLING POWER © 2015 SELLING POWER. CALL 1-800-752-7355 FOR REPRINT PERMISSION.


sales rep what he or she should do to advance a stuck opportunity. In doing so, however, that manager has lost the opportunity to allow the sales rep to explain what he or she thinks are the best options, consider other options, and discuss how to best proceed given the alternatives.


While coaching will require more of the sales manag-


er’s time in the short term, it ultimately leads to a more productive, empowered, and motivated sales team. In turn, that frees up the sales manager’s time.


RESPONSE #3:


“I’M CONCERNED ABOUT HURTING THE SALES REP’S CONFIDENCE”


This concern is warranted if the company lacks a coach- ing culture and uses coaching as a way to critique bot- tom performers. First and foremost, coaching needs to be genuinely helpful and focused on rep development. Second, coaching is rarely successful with reps who have a his- tory of poor performance. Sales coaching is best when focused on middle- and even higher-performing reps who have the capacity and desire to improve. The fol- lowing chart illustrates where sales coaching can have the greatest impact and where other management ac- tions are required.


SOURCE: CSO INSIGHTS, SALES PERFORMANCE OPTIMIZATION – SALES PROCESS ANALYSIS


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