With the Super Bowl just around the corner, millions of football fans across the world have a lot to look forward to. The limelight belongs to the teams duking it out on Sunday, but what about the coaches orchestrating the whole shebang? With only a few days to go before the kick off to the biggest sporting spectacle in America, let’s ride the hype together with some thoughts on sales coaching.
Get the gameplan right
When one hears the word “coach,” the first thing that usually springs to mind is athletics. A coach’s job is to know when and where his players need to be every second of the game, but also how to group them for offense and defense, with no match unfolding the same as the other. As long as every team is in top shape, strategy becomes the differentiating factor for nabbing the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy* on Super Bowl Sunday. The business world works much in the same way.
Like in sports, sales coaches use positive support, feedback and advice, as well as communication tricks like targeted restatements, questioning, and clarifying, to help their “teams” adjust their perspectives to moneymaking realities – financial touchdowns and field goals, if you will.
One area that highly depends on coaching is Sales Compensation. The development of a comp plan that is in line with company strategy but also incents the desired behavior is critical. It instills, confirms and reaffirms the salesforce’s understanding of the strategy, and therefore plays a key role in sales comp.
Taking standard selling to the next step
Coaching can make a world of difference in the world of sales, as revealed by Aberdeen Group in a recent study. Data supplied by the research group in late 2014 shows that coaching-enabled firms achieve 11% better team sales quota attainment. Best-of-breed teams turn to external sales experts 61% more often than under-performers and, according to the same research, best-in-class coaching can shorten the sales cycle and lead to less turnover, all in one blow.
The study, focused on B2B sales, found that the strongest-performing teams beef up on extra elements to aid their educational activities and to ensure superior results. When researchers analyzed the performance of companies that took their sales training efforts to the next level (versus the data generated by more conservatory salesforces), the results of opportunity-specific coaching were measurable and significant.
Then, there’s the turnover problem, which may seem minor when measured individually, but we’ll see in a moment how every percentage point that contributes toward the entire team’s success is worth the coaching investment, as it impacts sales ops on a much larger scale.
Talent stays, sales cycles shrink
Research shows that the typical cost of replacing a B2B sales rep is over $29,000 and takes just over seven months to hire and train. When analysts looked at the year-over-year performance changes of coaching-enabled sales teams compared with other firms, they noticed a stark contrast in all three quota metrics, plus a grievous KPI around sales turnover – utter motivators to start upgrading training to coaching.
Adding to the list of benefits is the 14% shorter average sales cycle (four months for coaching-enabled teams versus five months for non-enabled teams) and 2.1% shrinkage year-over-year which, depending on the company’s average deal size, can spell millions.
Researchers therefore urge enterprises to consider several questions. If your cycle were to instantly shrink by 14%, how much more revenue would your sales team produce for your organization? How many more reps would qualify for President’s Club? How will dedicated and effective coaching raise the engagement level in your sales organization, and how much money would be saved on the lowered turnover?
Is your salesforce ready to take the field?
Many strategies that look great on paper fail to produce the desired outcomes when that strategy is not executed effectively. When the combatants take the gridiron this Sunday in the annual February tradition, fans know that the team hoisting the Lombardi trophy will be the one that not only had a great strategy, but also the coaching needed to see it executed. Sales is no different!
*Awarded each year to the winning team of the NFL’s championship game, the silver-built trophy is named in honor of iconic NFL coach Vince Lombardi. It stands 22 inches (56 cm) tall, weighs 7 pounds (3.2 kg) and depicts a football in a kicking position on a three concave sided stand.