3 account management mistakes in consolidated markets
Avoid these three account management mistakes in consolidated markets, and you’ll be more likely to retain your major sales accounts.
A lot has changed in the sales world in the last 25 years since we’ve been running our annual sales research studies. Technology, including AI, has revolutionized the daily activities of sellers and managers. The methodology for selling has shifted from product selling to solution selling to perspective selling. We’ve made our sales processes more formal, we’ve adopted sales enablement as a new discipline and we’ve expanded the boundaries of sales into functions such as customer success.
But one thing that unfortunately has not changed over the years is a lack of coaching formality. When we explore the maturity of sales coaching processes, we assess it on four levels.
Today, even after more than two decades of bemoaning the opportunity costs of incomplete or ineffective sales coaching, formality is lacking. In fact, more than 60% of 900 sales organizations surveyed according to our Korn Ferry research still use random or informal sales coaching processes.
The missed benefit is striking. When you compare the levels of process against key operational metrics, there’s a clear pattern. Those with the highest levels of sales coaching formality are vastly more successful than their peers.
With such compelling data, why is formal coaching still in the minority?
We’d love to reveal that we’ve found one easy-to-implement strategy to overcome these challenges. Instead, organizations need to assemble a range of strategies and tactics focused on making formalized sales coaching easier to execute:
Like any other process, the coaching process needs to be fully defined and optimized. What is the expected cadence of sales coaching? What inputs and outputs are expected? How will you judge success?
New tools in the market can reduce the time required for managers to recognize patterns, diagnose coaching issues and send out early warning signals on funnels and opportunities. This leaves managers with more time to determine how to conduct the coaching and how to develop the salesperson.
We know from our recent Korn Ferry Research that buyer expectations are driving sales approaches to become more perspective driven. Coaching should use the same approach as selling, offering insights, reframing possibilities and exposing new solutions. Managers should model the skills they expect their salespeople to use in sales conversations.
Most sales organizations focus coaching on lagging indicators such as revenue recognition or bookings. Arming managers with better data on leading indicators will allow them to influence the future instead of just rehashing the past. Which opportunities are in danger of stalling? What behaviors are lacking?
Not all sales managers have the right set of traits and competencies for coaching. Yet many organizations don’t accurately assess for these key indicators when they decide to promote a salesperson into a management position. Be sure that you’ve calibrated your manager hiring profiles and assessments for your current environment. Need more tips on measuring talent? Read our article here.
Sales coaching becomes a deeper part of the manager’s routine when the culture supports continuous development. Consider your development approach and language as well as what you celebrate. If you don’t value development, then coaching will be perfunctory or reserved for performance managing people out of the organization.
Informal sales coaching is a problem that has been festering for 20 years. You aren’t going to solve it overnight or even in a quarter. But by implementing a few of these improvements, you can start heading in the right direction.
For more information about coaching, contact us here.