Today it is widely acknowledged that the sales manager is the key change agent in any sales force. It is also widely acknowledged that the coaching of sales reps is the highest impact activity for any sales manager. And yet, study after study reveals that too little coaching is taking place with too little impact.
Our research suggests that the failure of traditional sales management training programs to improve the impact of coaching can be blamed on one of three reasons:
1. Most coaching programs are generic in nature, intended to promote structured, collaborative, and interpersonal dialog. These programs are not typically focused on coaching specific sales activities, but rather on teaching universal coaching principles.
2. Many training programs focus on 'leadership' skills, like setting goals, motivating employees, and adapting management styles to individual personalities. These programs are rarely sales-specific and can be applied to any supervisory position.
3. Other management programs are 'point solutions' that address a single sales management task, such as time management, negotiation, or reading financial statements. While these training programs are specific to sales, they do not address the larger issue of a sales management process and ignore the two things that are desperately needed in most sales managers' lives... Structure and clarity of task.
In Vantage Point Performance's new book Cracking the Sales Management Code (McGraw-Hill 2012), they share ground breaking research into the measurement and management best practices of top sales forces. This research reveals a holistic management system that provides what sales management training has been lacking to-date - an operating manual for sales managers. It details a comprehensive infrastructure that helps sales managers focus their sellers on the activities that make a difference, while giving the managers a track to run on.
The financial services arm of a multi-billion dollar global corporation was experiencing bloated sales pipelines, inaccurate forecasting, and declining win rates. Rather than continue to train its front-line sellers, the learning and development team turned its attention to the role of the sales manager. The sales management team had received lots of training on how to coach their reps, but the coaching had failed to improve sales performance. In fact, a survey of the salespeople revealed that their managers' coaching effort was minimal and low-impact. Senior sales leadership asked the L&D team to bring them something new. Something innovative that would increase the impact of their sales managers and provide a sustainable framework for ongoing sales improvement.
- THE SOLUTION
Vantage Point Performance was brought in to assess the situation and to provide expert advice on how to answer sales leadership's request. Upon examination, it became apparent that the management team was suffering from a few common problems. Foremost, there was a lack of formal management process which was leading to highly reactive management activities. Second, sales leadership was trying to manage a heterogeneous sales force in a homogonous way, which was muting the impact of their coaching interactions. And finally, sales managers were struggling to apply their generic coaching frameworks to the day-to-day activities of their
In response, the company chose to adopt and implement the sales management frameworks from Cracking the Sales Management Code. The assessment had revealed the nature of the ideal seller-manager interactions and provided a customized training agenda based on their specific needs. During the sales training workshops, sales managers defined a new management process, created coaching tools to structure their conversations, identified the few sales metrics that were important for themselves, and learned new skills to execute on their key management tasks.
Subsequent surveys of the salespeople showed that their perception of both the quantity and quality of coaching had increased dramatically. And those improvements were re-confirmed one year after the initial training workshops. The percent of forecasted revenue being won by the sales force had been 25% six months before the training. Six months post training, the win rate had improved to 37%. And eighteen months post-training, that rate had increased to 54%. More coaching. Better coaching. Higher win rates. Sustainable change.