Why sales coaching is so important & how to adopt a formal process
Learn more about the different levels of coaching and how to improve the maturity of sales coaching in order to enable success
Few organizations today have a formal, data-driven talent measurement process.
Most complex B2B sales organizations have embraced “sales as a science.” They have adopted (if not yet fully formalized) a sales process and sales methodology. They have invested significant money into a CRM system to collect large volumes of structured and unstructured data about contacts, opportunities and accounts. Many are experimenting with new predictive AI tools to recommend the right content at the right time, score leads, suggest next best actions, refine forecasts, select accounts and more. There is not much in a sales organization that isn’t quantified, bucketed, collected or analyzed in some way—except talent.
We use “talent” to refer to the inherent abilities of individuals in your sales organization. Everyone is talented, meaning they have talent of some kind. But, of course, some talents and combinations of talents are going to be more fruitful than others in your sales environment. Unless you are measuring your talent, it will be difficult to determine which combination of talent will result in the best outcome.
Many leaders see traditional characteristics, such as being hard-working, resilient and people-oriented as drivers of success. They aren’t wrong. High performers usually have all of those attributes. The problem is that your low performers usually have them too. So, those aren’t usually the key attributes that make the best the best.
Unfortunately, according to our research, three-quarters of organizations don’t assess why their best are the best. This shortcoming is further complicated by the fact that organizations’ views of “the best” is usually limited to lagging indicators, such as making quota. This leaves organizations in a vulnerable place, because they can’t say for sure that their “best” are really the best. (Perhaps an organization inherited a flush territory or have a market where a competitor is failing. Perhaps its quota was set wrong.) And, even if they can point to “the best,” they don’t really know why they are the best. That makes it difficult to replicate that success. And that’s a tough place to be when the top 20% of salespeople are generating 62% of revenues.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Like most aspects of selling, data-driven tools exist to help sales leaders with the tasks of measuring talent and predicting success:
Look at performance as a combination of both leading and lagging indicators. Yes, making the number is really important. But start judging your sales talent performance by conversion rates, sales call skill demonstrations and customer satisfaction. Take into account margins and costs. How much effort does it take to manage the rep’s book of business? You might have a slightly different view of who the best are or who you would want to replicate and which best practices you want to propagate.
Use a data-driven predictive assessment tool to identify the specific attributes driving success. What separates the ideal profiles from other less successful reps or less desirable profiles? (If you’re going to loop that tool back into hiring, make sure that it is legally defensible).
What kinds of activities will generate the most engagement? Which areas will need the most formalized instruction? What kinds of action learning will be most beneficial? And, if you need to restructure your organization to adapt to (get ahead of) market conditions, use the data to determine who has the right profile for new roles.
Predictive assessments will tell you how someone is wired. It doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically live up to that potential. Periodic behavioral assessments (whether 180-degree online instruments, documented ride-alongs or AI-analyzed web meetings) can provide helpful insights into what’s working and what isn’t to refine coaching and development.
With a better (and more quantifiable) handle on your existing talent, you can not only get more from what you have, but you can also start filling your talent pool differently. A “proven track record” in one organization doesn’t guarantee future success in another, especially when different knowledge or skill sets are required. Use the ideal profile as an assessment of future selling candidates. In our recent research, organizations that used these tools consistently were 59% more likely to say that they had confidence in their talent’s future success and had 13% more of their salesforce meeting or exceeding their goals.
Talent doesn’t have to be an “I know it when I see it” concept. It can be measured, analyzed and optimized, just like any other aspect of selling today.
For more information about measuring talent and maximizing sales effectiveness, click here.