Less than 50% of companies invest in any sales coaching, yet, having an ineffective coach is a top reason that salespeople leave their roles. You’ve probably heard a lot about coaching – life coaching, career coaching, and sales coaching. For anything you need, there’s a coach.
In sales, you can receive coaching on a medley of things. It becomes overwhelming to figure out where your focus ought to be. Whether it’s one-on-one coaching or group coaching, the right data can provide the laser focus you need to achieve great heights in sales.
Broad sales coaching approaches are rampant, and while they can deliver some small-term wins, it doesn’t bring sustainable changes and personal growth. You can use your CRM to see where your sales team might improve. But that’s one dimension of a three-dimensional challenge.
For real impact, we find many of the answers in sales competency and behavioural data.
Types of Salesperson Data
When it comes to sales coaching, it’s easy to jump straight in, making assumptions about what the salesperson knows or doesn’t know. This approach could work for a while. But what happens when the salesperson doesn’t know what they don’t know?
Data can open a host of opportunities to improve and grow. By reviewing past and present behaviours, and competencies, you reveal a new world of possibilities.
The key types of sales data to consider are:
- Sales pipeline data (wins/losses, progress from stage to stage, frequency, and manner of follow-ups/contact)
- Sales competency data (prospecting, consultative selling, closing, social selling, qualifying, building relationships)
- Behavioural preference data (communication style, natural tendencies)
Let’s look at where you’d get each type of data.
- Sales pipeline data – CRM, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Email marketing software
- Sales competency data – Sales evaluations, pre-training assessments
- Behavioural preference data – Psychometric tests and one-to-one interviews with salespeople provide more qualitative data to give context.
5 Ways Data Improves Sales Coaching Outcomes
Salespeople who know their strengths and areas of improvement develop invaluable self-awareness. Self-awareness leads to self-confidence; ultimately, these salespeople achieve better and more predictable sales performance. Here are five ways that sales data improves sales coaching outcomes:
It drives self-awareness
Self-awareness is about paying attention to your behaviours and emotions rather than the stories we tell ourselves. We all have behaviours and tendencies of which we are not conscious.
Behaviour preference data using tools like DISC, Insights, Myers Briggs and C-me enable self-awareness. How salespeople behave will help or hinder progression through the sales cycle and how prospects perceive them.
Thanks to self-awareness, a salesperson can be better prepared for sales meetings, be reflective and seek to improve in every interaction. Self-awareness brings self-responsibility and better results.
It identifies links between behaviour and competency
Competencies and behaviours are crucial aspects of sales performance and evaluations. The right competencies mean that a salesperson can do the job, while the right behaviours mean they are doing the job function.
Sales data might show that a salesperson has lower than average competency in building rapport with prospects. A low competency in this area could negatively affect sales cycles and gaining trust to uncover critical reasons to buy. Behaviour data helps to identify why this part of the role is challenging.
A salesperson who prefers introversion might miss opportunities for small talk that builds rapport. Coaching provides insights and reflection that drive the right behaviours that improve competency.
It builds on existing strengths
Strengths aren’t only the things we are good at doing. They are things that motivate and excite us. Strengths provide an increased opportunity for confidence, engagement, and high performance.
Sales competency data might show that a salesperson is good at building rapport, yet they need support in reaching decision-makers. Sales coaching would build on the salesperson’s ability to gain trust quickly and create relationships.
Awareness about building rapport could allow this skill to extend to how a person reaches and engages decision-makers such as the C-suite. In essence, you take an existing strength and make it more powerful, improving other competency areas for better outcomes.
It provides a way to measure growth
In a recent article by Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group, he notes how low win rates reveal a need for better and more effective follow-up. Drilling into the sales competency data and sales pipeline gives even more detail.
For instance, corresponding low competency in reaching decision-makers or not asking enough questions at the discovery stage could lengthen the sales cycle. Longer sales cycles are more than twice as likely to result in a lost deal.
Using data to uncover challenges provides an effective way to measure growth. As they say, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Therefore, using sales data is crucial for showcasing early wins from sales interventions such as coaching, e.g., better win rates and shorter sales cycles.
It catches issues that might affect coaching outcomes
One of the most helpful pieces of information that a coach can get is how coachable their coachee is! Some people are less coachable than others; in these cases, sales coaching has little or no effect on their sales performance.
A coachable person will be open and accept constructive criticism rather than ignoring it. Sales competency data provides essential information about how coaching efforts might turn out.
The most valuable coaching sessions allow for self-evaluation and reflection. If the salesperson is receptive to coaching, they build self-improvement goals and take control of their own performance.
A sales coach can focus on asking questions to encourage self-evaluation. Consider questions such as:
- What were your biggest wins over the last week/quarter?
- How did you address the obstacles/objections to closing deals?
- What could have sped up the sales cycle for Deal X?
- How would you do things differently next time?
Without the relevant data, most sales coaching will be generic or theoretical. Blanket solutions might work for a while but won’t provide sustainable personal development for your salespeople.