Sales Transformation - The Coaching Component

By Susan Trumpler

The Challenge

You’ve been tasked with helping the company grow sales.  You’ve been given a budget and asked to go out and find the magic training that will help sales explode. You do brilliant work on sourcing that training, setting up the deployment, and rolling it out to your intended audience.  Whew!  Now what?  Do you cross your fingers and hope that the magic bullet hits its mark?  Or, are you one of the strategic transformation specialists that goes the full distance and puts a comprehensive reinforcement and coaching program in place? 

Did You Know?  Neil Rackham conducted a study that showed evidence of an 87% drop-off in knowledge acquired during training if reinforcement strategies are not part of the training initiative.

Now, I’m probably preaching to the choir here.  There aren’t too many learning professionals who don’t know the impact that coaching has on post-training sustainability.  Yet, more frequently than not, in the companies where we conduct post-training measurements, we see less-than-stellar levels of coaching.  When participants are asked about how often they receive performance coaching from their managers, the average response is “sometimes”.  Contrast these responses against effectively coached participants and you will find that there is a 20% average increase in skill effectiveness* in this group.  Follow the causal chain and you will find a clear correlation between high levels of coaching and maximized business impact from any transformation effort.

Making Coaching Easier for your Sales Leaders

Being in a sales leadership position is very challenging. They are faced with competing priorities: Revenue forecasts, field observations, participating in critical sales, filling their bench and many others. With only so many hours in the day, who could blame them for not being able to put appropriate effort into developing their team’s skill set?

So, how can you help?  The phrase that comes to mind is from a cult movie Little Shop of Horrors, “Feed me Seymor”!  We have to feed information to the sales leader that will make coaching easy, focused, and fast.  Here is a three step plan that anyone can follow that will result in better coaching and better business results.

3 Steps to Better Coaching & Business Results

Step 1:  Identify the SPECIFIC behaviors that bring success for your top performers; the “Money Making Skills”These are behaviors that top performers exhibit on a more frequent basis than their cohorts.  You can scientifically identify these behaviors via an assessment, or you can conduct internal research through observations and interviews.  Our experience is that any given training course will focus on 15-20 specific skills.  If you have already selected or created your training, document the key skills and then determine WHICH behaviors are most important to your top performers.  The logic here is that no one can make a shift across all 20 behaviors at one time.  Can you identify the most critical and then focus on shifting those first?

Step 2:  Identify the gaps. Now that you know what skills are important, it’s time to uncover which of these money making skills need to be focused on for EACH seller.  If doing a full assessment isn’t possible, ask the sales leader to evaluate each of their team members to create a stack-ranking of these behaviors for them.  This shouldn’t be an onerous task!  Keep in mind that of the 20 key skills mentioned above, it will boil down to 5-7 money making skills.  A sales leader should have a pulse on where each person stands on this subset without too much trouble.

Step 3:  Provide a specific prescription for each team member. Ok, you’ve got everything you need to feed that sales leader.  You can now provide a coaching profile for each of their team members that clearly maps skill improvement opportunities to appropriate reinforcement resources.  The leader uses this profile to have a quick coaching conversation that results in a solid action plan for sustainable improvement.  Our experience shows that feeding this information to the leader greatly increases the likelihood that effective coaching conversations will take place! 

In conclusion . . .

There are so many excellent coaching methodologies in the marketplace.  They do a wonderful job helping you equip your leaders with the skills necessary to have coaching-style conversations.  Coupling a great coaching model with targeted insights to bring into the conversation may just be the ticket to seeing your sales leader’s coaching soar along with your business results. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say it – at Beyond ROI, this is what we do. We succeed when you and your leaders do!