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An effective sales coaching process needs to be based on two pillars of sales success and continuous improvement process: activity and process. By focusing on executing an organization’s standardized sales process, Managers are able to deliver objective coaching, taking subjectivity and personalities out of the mix. This in turn drives mutual accountability and focus on high value activities and results. By driving specific sales process related activities, coaches are able to tailor and evolve plans for each individual member of their team based on their specific skills, abilities and current results.
Sales Managers must understand and embrace the difference between Managing and Coaching, applying both as needed to develop their teams. Manager are expected to set role expectations, clearly defining specific objectives, including financial goals, client acquisition, renewal and penetration targets, specific time allocation and activity levels for key success activities. Without understanding and acceptance of these fundamentals, it is difficult for sales teams and individuals to succeed, nor for managers to successfully lead their teams and individuals to consistent success.
Once the sales rep understands and accepts the role definition and related metrics, the Manager needs to inventory the reps’ skills, attributes and ability to deliver agreed on expectations and objectives. This allows the Manager to develop near term and long term coaching and development plans for each rep based on their abilities.
Once the expectations have been accepted by the rep, the Manager needs to transition from Manager to Coach, helping the individual rep to consistently execute the process with continuous improvement in results measured against plan.
A fully effective Execution Based Coaching model is implemented on two parallel tracks, a week to week reinforcement of the sales process, including related activities and metrics; and a longer term development plan based on the individuals’ ability to deliver against plan and over all development goals.
Week to Week Application
Based on pre-agreed on levels of activity, opportunities at various stages of the funnel based on the individual’s conversion rates. Because the review is driven by metrics and a standardized process, they require little time, and can be conducted as a team to encourage knowledge and market information sharing. Executed properly (according to the Renbor way), these are short crisp meetings with each member of the team taking no more than five minutes. Because reviews are weekly, and focus on real opportunities, real being specifically defined based on pipeline criteria, not the interpretation of each member of the team; this is one of the key things established in the expectation phase above.
Longer Term Development Plan
In order to deliver long term development, Managers also need to develop and implement a long-term and ongoing formal Coaching Plan for each rep. This part of the model is rooted in the teams’ success plan, and is tailored to meet the needs of the individual. It involves a three step process.
First, Coaches set high level goals for the team based on skills and attributes, developed based on role expectation and skills gap identified; ongoing development and evolvement of individual sales rep through mentoring and individual motivation.
Second, as important as a long-term development plan is, the reality is that a year is a long period with many changes throughout the year. To facilitate this, Managers need to break down the over all plan to a series of short 6 to 8 week action plans, bite size versus big and daunting, relevant now versus distant change. This makes for greater acceptance by reps, drives adoption and implementation of specific steps. It also allows reps to celebrate success along the way, and encourages them to want coaching, driving mutual accountability, making coaching a positive regular practice rather than event based.
Third, this allows the Manager to update and revise plans based on daily realities in the field, and impact the sales reps’ activities and actions based on how well they are executing and responding to market conditions, and the output from the weekly reviews, linking the near-term and long-term tracks.
While to some this may seem like an involved process, the greatest value a sales coach can bring to an organization is the development of their reps.
What’s in Your Pipeline?