Sales Performance Management: Coaching in Stages

Coaching is the best way for sales managers to drive sales performance.  It is the time that they get to interact with their sales people one on one, and really dig into successes and failures to help improve selling skills and behaviors.  In this post we are going to take a look at the three stages of coaching; pregame, in-game, and postgame, and also see what technologies can enhance the impact of these coaching sessions.

Stage 1:  Coaching Prior to the Game

Before sales reps can be successful selling they need to have a foundation to build off of.  In the same way a football coach would not send his team out onto the field without watching film, working on techniques, and studying playbooks, a sales coach should not send their reps out into the field without product knowledge, training on selling techniques, and a playbook of best practices.

In order to get the most out of pregame coaching a sales coach needs to be able to leverage technology.  One on one coaching is most effective when a rep is able to continue the learning process within an LMS system.  Product knowledge is vital to sales success, a sales manager should introduce new products to reps, teach them about their benefits, etc. but in order for a sales rep to retain all the information they need to be able to access learning materials about it on their own as well.

One on one coaching sessions will be more effective when real examples and statistics are used to drive home a point.  Having an automated coaching tool in place will give the sales manager the data s/he needs to be successful.  A coaching tool will pull all of the relevant KPIs into one place, help the coach model the behaviors of their top reps, so they can coach their reps on the behaviors that are making their top reps successful.

Stage 2:  Coaching In-Game

This is the most important stage of coaching as it pertains to impacting sales performance.  Pregame coaching is what sets the stage for success, but in game coaching is where managers can correct deficiencies to ensure reps are hitting their targets prior to the end of the period.  This is also the area that an automated coaching tool makes the biggest difference.

Being able to see where each rep stands in real-time towards their targets, and in comparison to their peers, is a game changer.  A sales manager needs to be able to quickly identify where a sales rep’s deficiencies are and what their top reps are doing differently to be successful.  Once the manager has this information they are able to more adequately steer their underperforming rep to better selling behaviors proactively, to ensure they reach their goals.  The in-game coaching also reinforces the foundation that was set during pregame coaching.

Stage 3:  Coaching Postgame

While postgame coaching won’t change past performance, it is still a vital part of an overall coaching strategy.  Doing a post mortem on why you did or did not reach your team goals, or why each individual rep did or did not hit their goals, will help improve performance for the upcoming period.  It is hard to move forward and be successful, if you don’t know where you’ve been and what made you successful or unsuccessful in the past.

Tracking KPIs and metrics throughout the period will make the postgame coaching sessions easier to prepare for and more impactful for the reps.  During these coaching sessions it’s important to show the reps the areas they did well and the areas they need to improve on.  Being able to build on their successes will give them more confidence in tweaking the other areas moving forward.  Being able to show lower performing reps what their higher performing peers did differently, will also go a long ways in driving home the importance of working on their deficient KPIs.

Bringing it all Together

Any time a sales coach is able to spend actively engaging their sales reps is good, but enabling sales coaches with the data and metrics they need to provide specifics, is better.  Through the use of sales performance technology you not only improve the selling skills of your sales reps, you also improve the coaching skills of your sales managers, increasing time savings and productivity along the way.