The cost of poor sales coaching

By Jodi Cachey | May 23, 2022

The job of a sales coach is to monitor individual members of a sales team, analyze performance data, and continuously coach them to improve. The idea is to reinforce positive behaviors, identify areas where sellers are deficient or struggling, then pinpoint and implement strategies to improve performance. 

Old School Sales Training Doesn’t Cut It

A good sales coach provides the tools to help sales reps gain the confidence to apply best practices and the knowledge to be credible during conversations with prospects and current customers. In the old days, sales coaches were generally sales leaders within a company that gave “sales talks” — formal training seminars teaching tips and tricks about “the art of persuasion.” But new technology and the growing complexities of B2B, products, and customer relationship management have given rise to learning management systems (LMS), conversation intelligence, and sales coaching software.

Poor sales coaching can greatly diminish morale in a company, not only among the sales team, but that often projects to the marketing department and in a domino effect onward. The most obvious implication of low morale is low retention rates, which will only, in turn, cause higher expenses for lengthy onboarding and training that needs to be done over and over for the revolving door of employees coming and going. It can take several weeks of training and even longer for a sales rep to become productive, which is more reason to choose intelligent sales coaching software.

What to Consider When Evaluating Sales Coaching Software

When selecting a sales coaching solution, it is important to first identify your objectives. There are a lot of solutions in the market that claim to be sales coaching or training software — that doesn’t necessarily mean they will help you improve the behavior and performance of your sales reps. 

An LMS, for example, will help you prepare reps ahead of sales meetings with digital training modules filled with product information and sales talk tracks. But these solutions don’t give you visibility into whether or not the rep took what they learned in the training and applied it in real-time with buyers. 

If you have an LMS, you may have considered adding a conversation intelligence solution to fill the gap. Conversation intelligence software enables you to record and transcribe conversations. It’s then up to sales managers to listen to those calls and provide feedback. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. 

To leverage Conversation Intelligence to its full potential, you need an effective coaching process. Here’s what Steve Richard, co-founder of ExecVision recommends:

The Ultimate Sales Coaching Process

To change rep behavior and impact sales performance, consider this process the best practice for sales coaching with conversation intelligence.

Step 1: Each week the rep identifies two of their own calls — one where they struggled and one they think went well. 

Step 2: The rep pulls those two recordings, listens, and comments on what worked and what didn’t. Self-reflection and self-discovery, even for 10-minutes a week, makes a huge difference.

Step 3: The rep shares those two calls with their manager. 

Step 4: The manager listens to the calls and reviews the rep’s comments. The beauty of this process is it takes the burden of developing the reps off the managers and puts it on the reps themselves. Managers can review a call that a rep has commented on in a fraction of the time. It also forces the reps to self-reflect. Managers don’t perform any sales coaching until the rep has first attempted to coach themself.

Step 5: The manager provides additional comments on the call. 

Step 6: During the rep/manager one-to-one, 20-minutes is allocated to call-level sales coaching. Both parties have reviewed the call, so they can jump right to the parts that really matter to re-listen together and use this formula to drive improvement:

    1. Reps self assess – They almost always figure out what they need to do differently on their own after listening to their performance. 
    2. Manager leads with something positive – Positive feedback causes dopamine to flow which opens the mind. Alternatively, leading with negative feedback causes the fight or flight hormone cortisol to kick in.
    3. Focus feedback on 1-2 things – Don’t overcoach. Pick one or two things the rep can do differently and focus on those until the behavior changes.
    4. Practice – It takes time to build muscle memory. Role play a sales scenario until the rep gets it right. Have them focus on that in real sales calls, and replay the calls where they do.
    5. Track progress – Use objective criteria and a simple scoring system to evaluate rep improvement over time. 
    6. Praise and repeat until habit – Track progress and give positive feedback until the new behavior becomes a positive part of the rep’s routine.

Change Behavior to Improve Sales Rep Performance

You can eliminate lengthy sales training modules and the inefficiency of poor sales coaching (whether it is in-person or software), and instead ready your sales reps for success with conversation intelligence software and the right sales coaching strategy. It’s not enough to have tools in place, you need to hold reps and managers accountable and equip them with proven strategies to drive long-lasting behavior change and improve sales performance.

To learn more about Mediafly Conversation Intelligence contact us for a personalized demo.

Jodi Cachey is the Vice President of Content Strategy & Growth Marketing at Mediafly, where she is responsible for the strategy and execution of all content marketing initiatives to drive traffic, demand, and growth. With over a decade of experience in the tech space, her previous roles include sales, business development, sales enablement, and product marketing. Jodi attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies.

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