Every sales leader wants a productive, efficient, and effective sales team, but only 1/3 of sales people meet or exceed quota. And in today’s competitive sales environment, having an under-performing sales team is simply not acceptable.
Sales coaching should not be an optional, “nice to have”, or reactive activity. Training helps reps know what to do, and coaching helps them to improve those techniques and methods. Incorporating data and analytics amplifies the effectiveness of sales guidance. Being data-driven isn’t just a passing tend – it is an enduring mindset that can have a valuable impact on an organization.
What is Sales Coaching?
Sales coaching can be defined as ‘the process of developing and accelerating sales rep performance by initiating enduring behavioral changes’. It’s about finding actionable solutions to drive revenue and help sales reps develop professionally.
Data-driven sales coaching means having a clear understanding of key sales metrics and activities that indicate success, as well as the ability to hold sales reps accountable. It is a valuable opportunity and effective way to develop and guide the sales force.
Why is Sales Coaching Important?
The purpose of sales coaching is to maximize the performance of the sales team. New hires, seasoned reps, and even sales managers can benefit from ongoing sales coaching and professional development. And compared to traditional methods, data-driven sales coaching can yield faster results, with a shorter sales cycle and quicker rep time-to-productivity.
Sales managers who do not invest the time and resources into coaching are missing out on the chance to help average performers become high-achievers. Ineffective (or nonexistent) sales coaching processes can cost organizations millions of dollars in lost revenue each year. But research shows that reps who receive just 3 hours of coaching a month exceed their goals by 7%, boosting revenue by 25% and increasing the average close rate by 70%.
How Can I Use Data-Driven Sales Coaching?
Sales leaders can leverage data-driven processes throughout the sales training and coaching activities, enabling their reps to hit revenue goals, see greater productivity, and sell more effectively.
Here are just 5 ways you can use data-driven sales coaching in your organization.
Over 50% of B2B executives indicate that their employees don’t understand their company’s strategy, according to research from Harvard Business Review (HBR). First, you need to determine what KPIs you are measuring and determine how that data will guide sales processes and drive change. This will also help you set expectations for reps and keep them accountable through the quarters ahead.
Data offers a real-time look at the pipeline, eliminating visibility gaps and enabling sales leaders to set realistic / stretch goals. Coaching enables sales leaders to define the business goals, outline a workflow, and work with reps to achieve these objectives.
Offering just-in-time guidance
The B2B selling space is constantly evolving, with shifting funnel dynamics and better-informed buyers. Accordingly, sales reps must adapt to the new B2B buyer expectations, and coaches can provide the appropriate insights and guidance.
Sales enablement tools have the ability to recommend the right content and messaging at the right time. Data informs marketing about what content works when and gives insights about the effectiveness of this content.
Creating “A” players
Rather than focusing on the leaders and the laggards, coach the middle 2/3 of reps who have both the room for improvement and the incentive to be top performers. A study from HBR shows that coaching has a marginal impact on the weakest and strongest performers in the sales organization. With the insights from data and sales technology, the behaviors and processes of top performers can be replicated.
Sales enablement technology also offers the ability to capture and analyze data on behaviors and what influences users, allowing organizations to create more engaging experiences. With insight into what activities and types of content are most motivating, businesses can shorten their on-boarding period and train new team members faster.
Sales people are, by nature, motivated by competition. Gamification simply leverages that principle. In fact, about 30% more first-year sales reps hit their quota when supported with game mechanics. When properly implemented, gamification can educate sales reps, reinforce sales processes, boost productivity, and support collaboration. It is how you can encourage preferred sales behaviors, promote participation in development programs, and see your sales training in action. Yes, your reps sat through coaching sessions and read the material you provided, but can they apply those learnings in real-world sales scenarios?
Further, the nature of gamification aligns with many sales rep objectives, such as number of phone calls or emails, so it offers a systematic method of tracking individual team members’ progress towards hitting transparent goals and upholds accountability. KnowledgeTree’s dashboards and leaderboards leverage gamification to give insight into sales rep performance, motivate sales teams, and share best practices.
Evaluating success and always be improving
Sales training and coaching and rep evaluation should always be driven by the numbers. Data is how you know what is working, areas you can improve, and opportunities for new sales strategies.
Though the most common method, revenue generation is just one way to evaluate sales success. And while stats such as number of phone calls and volume of emails are important, it is also vital to consider metrics such as pipeline velocity, conversion rates throughout the funnel, and individual rep win rates. For example, Rep A may have won 5 deals and Rep B may have won 10 deals, but if the second rep had 3x as many opportunities, his win rate will be much lower.
Use dashboards to visualize trends and gain valuable insights into rep activity. What went right and what went wrong with each deal won and opportunity lost? Consistently collecting and analyzing the proper data can quickly uncover opportunities for coaching and improvement. Data also gives sales leaders insight into how to better focus resources, such as more SDRs at the top of the funnel, more training for activities in the middle of the funnel, or more ROI content for the bottom of the funnel.
How Can Technology Help?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to have a data-driven culture without having the tooling in place to collect meaningful data and deliver accurate insights in a timely manner. As such, companies need to invest in the infrastructure to support data initiatives. In particular, organizations need technologies that combine predictive and automated capabilities to permit data-driven efficiencies and integrations throughout the various departments.
Data-driven sales guidance uses technology to provide dynamic sales training content and just-in-time coaching, determine which materials and content are most effective, recommend best practices to sales reps, and outline next-steps to advance a deal.
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