The trending topic these days is sales coaching.
At the recent AA-ISP Leadership Summit, Steve Richard, Art Sobczak, and Gary Milwit all led sessions that highlighted its importance.
We all nod our heads at coaching’s significance. We certainly talk about doing it. But talk, as they say, is cheap.
The unkind reality is that sales leaders, senior managers, and individual contributors alike rarely give coaching the attention it deserves.
According to our most recent Inside Sales research, only 14% of respondents tracked coaching time. And for those who do track, nearly 3 out of 4 are falling short of the gold standard of 3-5 hours per rep / month.
So What Gets In the Way?
There are 3 primary roadblocks to coaching
I was digging through Evernote earlier this week and stumbled across a file titled: Killer DF12 Sessions for Sales.
I vaguely remember creating it after Dreamforce 2012 and decided to take a look at a few of the videos I'd clipped. I’m so glad I did!
Out of the dozens of sales cloud sessions now on youtube, I want to share 3 quick clips that deliver three major ideas.
#1 - Coach to Move the Needle
Mark Roberge, HubSpot’s VP of Sales, shares a bit about how he develops leaders and reps in his 250 person sales org.
To set up the clip, Mark is talking about his team of 20 (mostly 1st-time Managers). He lays out the case that one thing newly promoted Sales Managers tend to get wrong is trying to coach too many things at once.
The big takeaway for me is that rep development doesn’t happen by serendipity. Many sales organizations have a coaching 'strategy' in place, but as the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast.
I recently sat in on a vendor presentation and let me tell you, it was a disaster from hello.
(By way of backstory, my client had received a high level overview of a vendor’s technology and scheduled a 2nd call to dig into the value the technology would bring to the Inside Sales team.)
From the start, the Seller launched into a canned pitch - essentially a 10 minute monologue about their product. She sounded like Billy Mays, the Infomercial king. When I was able to interject, she provided a slightly varied version of her canned pitch. I never received a direct answer to my questions.
Needless to say, I was quite frustrated. Here’s a company with a seemingly good product (at least from what their website suggested) but the seller failed at moving the process forward. After the call, my client commented that he would not evaluate the product because he couldn’t envision working successfully with the sales rep.
The number of Inside Sales departments is projected to grow from 800K (in 2009) to over 2M (in 2013) - according to SKKU/infoUSA research (PDF).
Steve Watts from The Sales Insider argues:
A 300% increase isn’t a “minor trend,” or a “significant shift.” It’s a Revolution.
But what happens when an Inside Sales Rep is ready for something new and different? Does their career path always mean staying “inside?”
Some view Inside Sales as a stepping stone. But the days of "hungry", first job out of college-Reps pounding the phones are largely gone.
Introduction: This is the 3rd in the series "How to Successfully Build an Inside Sales Team in Technology Companies".
We frequently are asked "How can I motivate my Inside Sales Reps?" Companies jump through hoops coming up with contests and SPIFs that will encourage the behavior they are looking for. In actuality, the answer is right at the end of their nose...be a mentor!
Role models are few and far between in both our personal and professional lives. Your best reps are those that want to get better. Providing them with a mentor who understands and communicates best practices will not only get them up to speed but will also provide them with a sounding board, a coach and a person they know has their best interests in mind.
We live hectic professional lives. But, if the last quality time you spent with your reps was to do a forecast review, then are really giving them the best you have to offer?
Peer to peer mentoring is also a great way to share information.
Almost every team has top performers that want to do more...that want to help others be successful. Set up a program that allows them to do so and reward them for it. There is joy in mentoring...you just have to identify those people who will feel it and give them an opportunity to do so.
We would love to hear stories about great mentors that you have had so feel free to post a comment!