Successful sales coaching requires the collaboration of sales enablement, sales managers and reps on the design, execution and participation of the program.
According to Forbes Insights, 74% of companies rank sales coaching as front-line managers’ most important role. But, only 15% of organizations have the right amount of sales coaching in place, as reported by The Sales Management Association. One way to fix this is to implement sales coaching technology that can jump start coaching initiatives - but that’s only half the battle.
To ensure success, sales managers need to be bought into the value of sales coaching technology and properly trained on how to use it. To kick off coaching initiatives, sales enablement leaders can help take the lead on preparing managers to be virtual coaches by following these key steps to ‘coach the coaches.’
Include Sales Managers Early On
Sales coaching technology empowers managers to help reps practice and master the skills and messages needed to succeed. For example, managers may be able to share virtual assignments or ‘challenges’ to their teams (i.e. “Demonstrate how you would pitch our latest product offering”). Reps can then respond to the challenge via video, for managers and/or peers to review and provide feedback.
Oftentimes, the sales enablement function is in charge of selecting sales coaching technology. Sales managers are not always a part of that process – but they should be! Managers will eventually be issuing coaching challenges and monitoring their teams’ progress, so they should be involved in the technology selection process from the beginning.
Sales enablement leaders should also ask for managers’ input on different solutions and features. Both parties should talk about how to design potential coaching challenges. Most importantly, they should discuss the overall goals of the coaching program and which technologies would best support those.
By including sales managers in the process early on, sales enablement will be in a better position to get their buy-in, which is important because managers will be key to the overall success and ROI of the solution. Managers will also probably be more open to piloting the technology if they know about it from the start. Speaking of which…
Pilot Sales Coaching Technology with Managers
In order to have the best chance at an effective roll out of the sales coaching solution, sales managers should try out the technology first-hand. Doing a pilot will get them acquainted with the technology so they can train reps on it following deployment, answer questions and champion it across the sales organization.
There are several approaches sales enablement can take when doing a pilot with sales managers:
Start with easy, fun challenges: For any organization, a new technology is a change that can be intimidating. By starting with simple, fun coaching challenges, such as asking managers to describe their favorite restaurant or pitch their favorite TV show, you can make it easy for them to understand how the technology works on a basic level, while having some fun with it.
Have managers assess each other: This can be done with fun or more realistic coaching challenges, but by having managers assess each other’s assignments, it’s another way to help them get to know the technology. It will show them how to deliver feedback, rate pitches and start thinking about the criteria they’ll want to use when evaluating reps’ work.
Send them a sample pitch: Record a video or send a sample pitch and intentionally include mistakes or missteps. Send it to managers with no specific instructions on what to look for. Then ask them to assess it – this will help them understand what they should be thinking about for their teams.
Explain the formal and informal uses: Before letting managers go out into the wild with a coaching solution, you’ll also want to explain how formal and informal challenges can be used within the solution. Informal challenges are impromptu and are shorter and simpler, such as asking reps how to handle a certain objection. These challenge are not typically scored and are used to gather best practices. Formal challenges are more structured. For example, reps may submit a longer, more detailed video showing how they would walk through an introductory pitch to a prospect. These are typically assessed and scored.
By including sales managers early and often in the process of the selection, pilot and eventual rollout of a sales coaching technology, you’ll have a strong team invested in the success of the solution and a better chance at strong adoption and ROI.
Want to learn more? Check out how Brainshark helps sales managers coach reps to mastery.