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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19610

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Electronic Source

Mormen S
Coaching and SFE: How coaching metrics can increases sales 2011 Aug 9


Simon Mormen, founder and CEO of Atomus, argues that sales coaching metrics can have a major impact on revenue

Full text:

Sales Executive Council research has proven that organizations can increase their revenue by 20% if they focus on improving how their salespeople interact with prospects and customers.

Most companies struggle to effectively coach their salespeople on how to handle these interactions.

Specifically, senior sales leaders find it difficult to define, capture, report on, and use the powerful data that can be obtained using sales coaching metrics.

Hence, in many instances, those coaching metrics are bolted on as an afterthought or overlooked altogether.

As a result, these executives have no way of knowing what coaches ought to be teaching and what salespeople ought to be learning or measuring the results of coaching and identifying who is advancing and who is not.

This lack of information keeps the 20% boost in revenue out of reach.

The science of sales force coaching

The Sales Executive Council figure of a 20% increase in sales doesn’t happen by accident, fluke, or some creative accounting method.

And it doesn’t happen by coaching alone.

A 20% improvement in sales through better customer interactions happens when the organization follows a clear, concise, and proven tracking and monitoring methodology that is completely integrated into the new coaching initiative.

The current economic downturn and subsequent downsizing have prompted sales leaders to search for new ways to reach increasing sales targets with shrinking field forces.

Their attention has turned to coaching.

If we are to increase our sales through improved coaching, we need to separate and identify the elements of sales force coaching that make a tangible difference and monitor each step of the coaching process to observe it in full detail, especially to see where we fall short.

Overall, we need to define the process and then transform that process into a science.

With science comes metrics, and with metrics comes greater understanding.

10 crucial coaching metrics

Carefully and honestly answer the following questions.

They will help you see the gap between how much you currently know about your sales coaching program’s performance and how much you could know.

1. Are managers correctly using and implementing the organization’s coaching and/or sales model on every call? You would be surprised at how soon all the training around the new model is lost in the field without constant re-enforcement and follow-up.

2. What are the top three skills currently being coached in the field this month? Are the skills that are being coached on really the ones that make a difference?

3. What are the three weakest skills currently exhibited by representatives across teams, and nationally? Once this metric is clear, training spend can be better targeted to the appropriate areas.

4. How is improvement tracked, measured, and communicated, and how regularly? Take the industry standard metric of ‘manager days in the field’ to the next level by looking at progression and quality of coaching given during those days.

5. How is the consistency of coaching tracked across time? Inconsistency in coaching is one of the key reasons for lack of development. The representative becomes confused and de-motivated.

6. How much time is taken between the field ride and the final documenting of the coaching report and development plan? For maximum effectiveness, the feedback and resulting development plan need to be delivered and captured for both parties as near on the day or very soon after.

7. What are the three strongest skills being exhibited by representatives across teams, and nationally? Trend identification may require further analysis when unexpected patterns emerge, leading to greater understanding of developmental needs in particular teams or regions.

8. How many representatives have had zero coaching input for the last two months? The development plan for the representative is only of any use if both manager and representative are referring to it consistently and regularly to implement the agreed plan.

9. How is the representative’s self perception in their mastery of key skills compared to their manager’s? By tracking rep self-assessments, the manager can prepare better for the day and be ready for difficult conversations at the end of the field ride when rep and manager perceptions are not aligned.

10. How does the customer view the representative against competition? Arguably, one of the most important metrics of all if captured and used effectively.

The power of metrics

The most commonly tracked metric (if any) is the number of days a manager normally spends in the field ‘coaching’ against a recommended or mandatory percentage of working time.

Focusing on that number alone is woefully insufficient and will not go far towards achieving the sought after 20% sales uplift.

We need to measure all aspects of our implementation as the new shoots of our coaching culture start to peer from the earth.

Along the way, we may need to add supports, nutrients, and sometimes even prune heavily here and there to keep it growing healthily in the right direction.

For a real change to take place, you need to capture all of the data relevant to the questions listed.

You need the ability to track this data simply and easily as it’s created (in the field) as well as the ability to retrieve this information in a summarized and logical format at will.

Then and only then will you begin to gain full visibility of the facts you need to make the necessary, impactful, and knowledgeable adjustments to your sales coaching regimen.

5 barriers to implementing coaching metrics

1. “Ratings are too subjective; every manager has their own view.” You can minimize subjectivity through continued peer reviews and base lining at regional meetings and clear interpretation of the ratings and their underlying components.

2. “Our managers are too busy to do more work.” Our feedback to date from successful managers in the field states that new processes and tools make their jobs easier. Obviously, there will always be the handful that have had an easy life doing coaching ‘their’ way who will see metrics as yet another ‘big brother’ methodology, but these too will be convinced once they see the positive results.

3. “I don’t want to argue with my representative over being a ‘2’ or a ‘3’ in a particular skill due to semantics.” Every rating level for each of the assessed skills needs to be defined in a clear and understandable way so that behavioral progression from one level to the next is visible and demonstrable and free from ambiguity.

4. “Skill ratings will conflict with performance reviews.” Align coaching and performance review rating scales as much as possible. Provide your managers with clear training to communicate the goals of their coaching efforts. They should be able to explain to the representative exactly how the ratings they give in field visits contribute to reps overall annual performance reviews. This is particularly important when you consider that most annual reviews are based solely on meeting sales targets.

5. “We cannot decide on the coaching skills that we want to rate against.” There are many ways of doing this, ranging from adapting existing in-house materials to enlisting the assistance of industrial psychologists to interviewing your top performers. Better to assess against a skill base that is not yet 100% accurate, but can be adapted over time, than to do nothing.

Key elements of trustworthy metrics

An organization cannot simply develop trustworthy metrics.

It needs a foundation of detailed, consistent, and accurate data to pull from.

Where is the benefit in knowing that all your managers are hitting their 65%-per-month target of time spent in the field coaching without being able to define how they are coaching and what skills they are coaching on?

Without more meat on the bone, the metrics waste time and money and paint a sliver of the full picture.

The reports they produce actually cloud the vision necessary to create solid action plans.

The key elements in the foundations for trustworthy metrics are: benchmark the current weaknesses in your sales process and sales skills profiles; gain executive sponsorship with a detailed business case for change; identify the specific selling skills and activities that separate high performers from average performers; provide sales training to build the skills required in today’s market place; empower line managers to be effective and objective coaches; ensure user-friendly, automated, data-capture and reporting tools are in place for field usage; and take remedial action based on monthly Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reports.

These steps are sequential.

Clearly define and apply each step before moving on to the next.

Problems will arise if the steps are rushed, modified, or missed.

Gaps or holes in the process will lead to sketchy outcomes, unreliable data, and unpredictable sales uplift at best.

Detailed metrics serve as your monitoring and warning mechanism.

Without them, the entire objective of sales coaching can be totally trashed when all it may have needed was gentle massaging in specific areas based on clear, concise KPI data from a field-accessible, on-line data capture system.


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