Few sales professionals would dispute the importance of coaching in their job. And those that do, probably aren’t high-performers in this sales environment – the type that focus on building good relationships and tweaking the right deal for a particular customer.
In fact, high-quality coaching can improve rep performance by up to 19%, according to CEB data. Even so, coaching continues to be among the most poorly practiced aspects of sales management. This discrepancy has its roots in rising deal complexity. As each sale becomes more complex, and managers find themselves parachuting in to save deals on the rocks, coaching is seen increasingly as an unplanned, low priority activity, often done half-heartedly at the end of a sales meeting or call.
To combat this and improve seller performance, managers should establish coaching as a high-priority activity and embed coaching practices into their day-to-day activities. Avoiding these three mistakes will make for a good start.
Spending too much – or too little – time on coaching: It is possible to spend too much time coaching. In fact, the return on coaching time diminishes dramatically after 5 hours a month. But don’t use this as an excuse to slack off on coaching your reps. Statistically, the chances you’re overdoing it are low.
In fact, the “sweet spot” for coaching is between three and five hours a month, according to CEB data, nearly half of the reps responding to a recent survey receive fewer than three hours of coaching per month.
Coaching in the rear view mirror (or ignoring it entirely): If you are coaching mainly on late-state sales support (i.e., closing), or attempting to teach through skills demonstrations (i.e., taking over deals or calls), you are likely failing to build skills and confidence in your reps.
Instead, embed coaching into everyday conversations and work to embolden sellers to trust their judgement by identifying precise development areas, and then fostering ongoing learning.
Forgetting to PAUSE: The PAUSE principle is the key to becoming a more deliberate and effective coach. Use the five step framework – Prepare, Affirm, Understand, Specify, Embed – to establish a personal coaching process designed to enact long-term behavior change in your sellers.