By Bill Eckstrom
There is a lack of resources in the sales world, and we at the EcSell Institute witness this daily as individuals and teams do their best to grow revenue.
Research and technology continue to challenge our perception of accepted and applied best practice; but, in spite of it all, in the sales world the producers are the only ones provided all the cards. The sales leaders, keeping true to form, are handed an incomplete deck with cards unknowingly strewn on the floor.
The challenge is that, historically, all the research, data, studies, etc., have been done on salespeople. Not until the 90s did research make clear to what degree a manager impacts the performance of any team in business. However, in sales, it still wasn’t made clear what specific coaching activities and behaviors correlated closest to “motivation to sell.” And, if nobody had identified the high-payoff coaching activities and effective behaviors, they certainly couldn’t be measured for quantity or quality. This means sales leaders don’t have the right sales performance metrics to measure success.
This may be hard to comprehend given the volume of reports reviewed by any sales leader on a given day, but much is missing. Prudent decisions in business are usually made as a result of having data, and data is only produced as a result of inputs. Today, the only inputs and resulting data available to sales departments are based on what salespeople do. The gap is this: no one has provided the opportunity for coaching inputs, so there is no data on how a sales coach is impacting performance.
Or consider this: odds are that 50 percent of your sales coaching team is preventing your sales reps from selling more. So, without objectively measuring coaching performance, you are simply guessing as to the effectiveness of your entire sales leadership team. Guessing is what leads to a high turnover rate in our profession (19 months was the average tenure of a sales leader in 2013.) You can’t win the game without having all the cards in your deck! That means you need to measure the right sales performance metric.
Think about it: What coaching metrics does anyone review?
Here are some that should be reviewed by the executive sales leader or through self-analysis by the sales coach:
- One-on-one coaching meetings completed
- Number of joint sales calls worked with reps
- Coach’s role in the joint call (observer, participant, lead)
- Sales stage in which coach helped the rep (e.g., needs analysis, presentation, closing)
- Percent of coaching time with top 20 percent of reps, versus middle 60 percent, versus bottom 20 percent
- Coaching score (an objective measurement of coaching acumen)
Because nobody measures, nobody knows. Sales departments are famous for providing salespeople all the success disciplines, measurements, and methodologies; but, until these same structures are brought to the sales coaching role, sales growth will be minimized.
Here are some ways to get started:
- Define expectations around the high-payoff coaching activities – how often and with whom
- Provide coaches the tools and training on how to use them effectively
- Use a tracking method so inputs and outcomes can be gathered
Regardless of company size, management tenure, technology, learning and development teams, sales effectiveness departments, or strength of leadership, they have all had a card (or more) under their chair. They were all missing critical data that limited their ability to maximize sales. So, before you play another game, stop and look under your chair. Don’t make another move – certainly no strategic moves – without first holding all the cards.
Coaching not measured is a soft skill. Coaching objectively measured becomes a vital sales performance metric.
Hear Bill Eckstrom of the EcSell Institute speak live at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas on September 18.
Bill Eckstrom is a business owner, executive, entrepreneur, outdoorsman, Husker fan, cyclist, student, husband, and father. He is founder of the EcSell Institute, a research-based organization that works with leaders in sales departments to help them understand, elevate, and measure coaching’s impact on team performance. EcSell’s science and programming on the role of the leader as a coach has been changing the behaviors, activities, and performance of organizational teams around the world. Follow Bill on LinkedIn or Twitter.