Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort on sales coaching, ranging from sales training events to new hire mentoring to certifications to weekly reinforcement topics and, of course, many forms of individualized coaching. All of these efforts have the same goal: improving how the sales team sells.

And in the process, I’ve noticed a few trends.
Teams are often composed of motivated B-quality performers and a few A-quality superstars. (Anyone falling below company standards is let go). Then there are the sales managers and trainers, those with proven track records who have been tasked with developing sales teams. We use this process in our company, and like you, we are careful and rigorous in our hiring and selection. Because of that dedicated effort, our overall sales talent is typical to that of our industry.

And yet, even with all this sustained effort, progress has been an uphill battle. Unfortunately, even with coaching, ineffective selling and communication habits are tough to change. And when I speak to senior sales executives, many report a similar experience: several attempts, minimal progress, a lot of money spent, and few ways to measure the impact. So the real question is: if you have excellent teams, managers, and trainers, why isn’t sales coaching working?

One major problem is that sales coaching efforts are highly skewed by the coach’s subjectivity and skill.  Most coaches can diagnose when a sales conversation is off-track.  Many can suggest and model alternative approaches to use.

However, relatively few can get a rep to successfully and consistently adopt these new behaviors on the job. Worse, quantifying the path to improvement is almost impossible. After all, they don’t have any data to work with.

So, for many companies, sales coaching remains an inexact effort fueled by the hope for positive change and the fear of taking no action.

Isn’t it time to reduce the skew and take a better approach? After all, every day your business continues to leave sales on the table is another day your business suffers.

… when I speak to senior sales executives, many report a similar experience: several attempts, minimal progress, a lot of money spent, and few ways to measure the impact.

Here are a few ways you can reduce the skew:

  1. Expand the search: Analyze more data, especially from calls, to steer the rep and the sales coach to critical points in the selling process.
  2. Widen the view:  Find more efficient ways to share call summaries that require little time or effort, especially for complex sales that take many months to complete. Don’t get trapped in a sales coaching blind spot.
  3. Seek details: Find a more precise approach to diagnosing the rep’s skill or communication gaps. Sales coaches need to function more like doctors, and they need efficient tools to drill down into the call specifics to detect problems.
  4. Add metrics: Compare insights gained from measuring the current selling effort against what is known to work and win.
  5. Make coaching referenceable:  Look for faster and easier ways for coaches to identify and preserve examples of best practice selling.
    We know that you’re always looking for ways to drive value into your sales coaching. That’s why we’re here to help–and continue learning side by side. I’d love to hear what you are doing to drive value into your sales coaching decisions. Let us know about the steps you’re taking to strengthen your team.