Sales and Fulfillment

Inculcating a culture of coaching to boost sales capability

A Gartner research reveals that only 40% of sellers work within a well-established coaching culture at their organization, while 58% of sales reps require dedicated coaching from their managers to perform better. The same Gartner study establishes a clear link between coaching and revenue, stating that a good sales coach unlocks revenue potential of 8% and above. Does it make business sense? Continue reading.

There are examples galore to drive home the point and importance of coaching – be it on the personal or the professional front. Consider the arena of sports – would players like Sachin Tendulkar and PV Sindhu come this far if it hadn’t been for the constant guidance and dedicated grooming by exceptional coaches like Ramakant Achrekar and Pullela Gopichand? Coaches can identify our talent and impart the critical wisdom that helps us to create an inherent knowledge base.

This principle of coaching holds true for various disciplines, and the art and science of selling is one of them. Sellers encounter multiple situations that demand falling back on informed instincts that stem from an acquired knowledge. Consistent coaching helps acquire this deep knowledge and enables sellers to drive better results for themselves and for their organisations.

But make no mistake, sales coaching is different from sales training. Sales training is the time you take to build the skills of your team, practice new scripts, measure new methods, or redefine the sales process. Sales coaching, on the other hand, is the time you spend showing each rep how to use those strategies in their day-to-day process and is the key ingredient to creating a forward-thinking sales professional.

Coaching the winning sales strategy

Selling has come a long way from product selling to solution selling, to now, perspective selling. New-age customers are looking to upgrade their automated buying experience by leveraging the human touch of an empathetic sales professional. Such a professional can utilise their knowledge as an advantage to provide a valuable perspective, thereby initiating a consultative dialogue with the customer and adding value for both parties. The creation of such a proficient sales professional depends on the managers' ability to coach the right skills in the right way and establish a culture of coaching in the organisation.

An effective coaching culture can also be a great sales enabler, directly contributing to building resource value, maximising productivity, and capitalising revenue generation. This cannot be achieved by a simple training exercise or periodic appraisals, especially in today’s virtual-first world. Modern sales professionals are not just deal-closers, they have now evolved into problem solvers. This translates to a need for superior coaching - far above the generic training on technical proficiency. Each sales team consists of a diverse group of people with unique skill sets. Because of this, customised learning and development strategies, such as one-on-one coaching, can bring about a profound transformation.

What is needed is an iterative and personalised approach, starting at the managerial level, that empowers a resource to grow and contribute to the success of the organisation. Incorporating this culture of coaching in the sales strategy can dramatically augment the sales capability and produce growth-minded selling professionals.

Enabling sales capability in the right direction

Coaching strategies can be designed to accomplish different goals for sales professionals.

  • Skill building and employee retention
  • In the aftermath of The Great Resignation, most companies are struggling to retain high-performing employees. In fact, as per a survey by Salesforce, 60% of sales resources reporting to managers who do not conduct formal coaching are thinking about switching their companies. One great way to incentivise employees is to empower them with advanced knowledge through a culture of learning. Sales coaching is not just to further organisational goals but can also be instrumental in the individual development of a resource. If resources feel that the company is taking an effort to enhance its capabilities, it will be more invested in the company.

  • Maintaining a competitive upper hand
  • The modern technological landscape is continuously changing, and sellers always need to be on their toes for new advancements. Consistent coaching can be a valuable game plan to ensure a competitive edge. A well-equipped professional will always stay on top of their game, and be prepared to handle any challenge, be it a market disruption, a new product launch, or a technical upgrade.

  • Better resource utilisation
  • As an employee gets a better understanding of the tools at their disposal, they tend to perform better while utilising fewer resources. Consistent coaching and upskilling of employees can aid an organisation by providing better returns on their resources and fueling their productivity at a lower cost.

  • Inter-departmental collaboration
  • What happens when a company switches its core strategy? Say a product-based company decides to switch gears and focus more on creating solutions for the consulting domain. The sales managers may not be prepared to lead this transition and will need to be coached through the process. At this juncture, sales professionals can collaborate internally with different departments such as R&D, marketing, and finance to get a better understanding of different functions. Such a collaborative coaching exercise can cement the functional understanding of sellers and help them create a more holistic solution for customers.

    Sales coaching is both an art and a science. It’s one of the most important components of sales management. Do it well, and your team’s results will speak for you. So, begin incorporating the various sales coaching techniques, tools, and tips to help your team close more deals, boost revenue, surpass quota, and grow better. After all, creating record-breaking players requires patience and hard work!

This article was first published on Business Insider

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