How to Get the Most Out of Time Spent Coaching Your Sales Team

December 3, 2018

Sales managers are master jugglers. In a single day, one might find herself doing everything from facilitating connections and participating in prospect meetings, to interviewing new hires and evaluating new tools, to analyzing sales strategies and helping drive deals to completion.

No wonder so many sales leaders find themselves short on time when it comes to meeting with their reps and providing personal guidance. In fact, 73% of managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching according to Altify.

 

Vantage Point Performance recently studied the performance of 518 B2B sales managers across a dozen global companies. This research found that even the best sales managers only coach 65% of their sellers across the finish line. More alarming is that three-quarters of all managers didn’t muster a 50% success rate.

 

Let’s explore ways that sales managers can regain control of their calendars to focus on productive and purposeful sales team management.

Why Sales Coaching Matters and How to Get It Right

“Sales coaching is the enablement service that matters most in terms of business impact,” according to Tamara Schenk. “This is a fact that CSO Insights has observed year over year.”

Indeed, CSO’s research shows that implemented the right sales coaching can improve win rates to forecast deals by as much as 27.6%. However, CSO has also found that “almost 75% of sales organizations waste resources due to random and informal coaching approaches.”

Here are some tips for cutting out the waste and hitting the right notes with your sales coaching.

Don’t Mistake Feedback for Coaching

If you’re thinking, “I give my reps feedback every day, so I’m fine,” think again. Feedback is reactive and in the moment. Sure, it might help your reps understand where a particular deal went wrong, but it’s usually geared toward past behavior. Coaching, on the other hand, is about inspiring your reps so they can reach their full potential. It’s a subtle – yet crucial – distinction.

 

You’ll know you’re giving feedback versus coaching when you are telling your reps what they did wrong. You’re on the right track when engaged in proactive two-way dialogues with your reps, and asking questions to get them thinking about new ways they can achieve their goals.

Don’t Confuse More With Better

While we suggest finding more opportunities for coaching, we’re not saying you should devote a disproportionate amount of time to it. The true goal should be making the most of every coaching moment.

 

According to Vantage Point Performance, top-performing sales managers actually coach each salesperson fewer hours per month compared to their lower-performing peers. They get more out of their coaching by formally scheduling sessions with clear structure and desired outcomes. Think quality, not quantity.

Making Each Minute Count

So how can you focus where it matters most? Perhaps it would help to know that research shows reps spend over 37% of their time on non-core activities. It’s safe to say in many cases this is because they are manually handling tasks and not using tools at their disposal. Whatever the reason, as a manager you suffer the consequences. You also might be able to sympathize.

 

When you’re trying to get a realistic sense of pipeline and opportunities, we often find ourselves spending inordinate amounts of time trying piecing together information from multiple sources. In other words, just like your reps, we end up wasting far too many cycles on low-value – but necessary – activities.

It’s a given that your team will perform better if you can minimize or automate administrative tasks. Gaining collective visibility around your sales pipeline is one critical step to improving efficiency.

Recouping time allows you to invest in more meaningful one-on-one meetings with your reps, tackling the essentials and uncovering new opportunities for growth.

Call Upon Sales Technology

Members of the LinkedIn sales leadership team are using their time more wisely by taking advantage of Sales Navigator.

As Jack McKeon, Regional Manager for LinkedIn EMEA, explains: “I used to explore our pipeline in a spreadsheet, adding endless columns and using color coding to try to make sense of it all. Not only was this inefficient, it’s a static view of a dynamic pipeline. With Deals, I can quickly and easily get the focused view that I want—no more wrestling with our CRM system.” Through this focused view, Jack zeroes in on the critical players in each deal, and the relationships his reps need to prioritize.

 

Identifying and understanding people in the Buyer Circle – a feature within Sales Navigator Deals – also positions you to discuss opportunities more effectively.

“Seeing who is in the Buying Circle prompts me to ask specific questions of my reps,” says Andrew McCarthy, Regional Manager for LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

 

Simplify Coaching for Superior Sales Team Management

When a person is learning to juggle, they are often advised to start simple. First practice tossing one ball up and down, and then add another, and another. Similarly, sales managers can enhance their coaching through a progressive and systematic approach.

Work with each rep to formulate a customized development plan, knocking down one objective at a time. Mix in plenty of proactive guidance along with the standard feedback and retrospectives. And rely on sales technology to refine and streamline your coaching strategies.

Once you find the right rhythm, you’ll be juggling all those leadership responsibilities with your eyes closed.

 

For more ways to become more efficient and effective as a sales leader, download our eBook Get Closer to Your Sales Team.

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