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The Power of Data-Driven Sales Coaching: Strategies for Success

Sales management

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What is Data-Driven Sales Coaching?

To effectively coach sellers, sales managers need to focus on the seller’s main goal: winning sales. This starts with implementing a data-driven sales coaching approach.

Sellers are not one size fits all. A generic, repetitive coaching approach won’t ensure success across the entire sales team. Instead, sales leaders need to personalize their coaching method. But how does a sales manager provide useful, individualized insights and guidance given all the other responsibilities they have?

The answer is to apply a data-driven sales coaching approach. If a sales manager can access up to date analytics on each seller, then they can quickly see what areas need attention. A data-driven approach gives coaches an unambiguous assessment of where their focus is needed. This insight makes sales managers more effective without demanding a lot of their time.

Industry research backs up the value of using data as the basis for effective sales management and coaching. According to research by McKinsey, companies that use data-driven methods in sales report above-market growth and profitability, increasing in a range between 15 to 25 percent.

While using data to drive insightful sales coaching makes intuitive sense, it is rarely put into practice. Organizations struggle with the following questions:

  • What data should sales managers use?
  • What period of time should the data cover?
  • Where will the data reside?

To develop a data-driven sales coaching approach, organizations need to narrow their focus to the core principles that matter the most. Here, we share those core principles.

Match the Metrics to the Methodology

The metrics that sales managers use in their data-driven approach must align with how their sellers engage with customers. This means that the data used to coach must reflect how well the sellers are executing their sales methodology. There are a few reasons why this alignment is important. 

First, this kind of congruence demonstrates to sellers that the sales organization is fully committed to the methodology. Sellers see that the leadership is willing to focus their attention on a measurement strategy that will keep the methodology working.

Second, metric/methodology alignment helps bridge the gap between training and selling. Sometimes, concepts taught in training can seem vague when viewed in the context of a real pursuit. Metrics, which are definitive, show exactly how a concept needs to be applied.

Third, metrics usually go beyond just showing if the seller executed part of the methodology. They often gauge how well the seller executed the step. This helps sellers see the difference between “checking the box” and executing with a level of performance that moves the deal forward.

When the metrics match the methodology, it means that leaders have more practical and effective ways to measure, inspect, and reinforce the organization’s approach to selling.

Use Performance Measurement During Training

Sales managers are more effective when they begin coaching early. This means using a data–driven approach even during the sales training. Doing so helps sellers and coaches see where more development is needed. This results in two advantages. First, sellers come out of training with a more thorough understanding of the methodology. Second, they gain a higher level of mastery in applying this methodology well with customers.

Using sales performance measurement in training helps better prepare sellers for real-world scenarios. It gives sales managers and sellers the chance to refine key selling skills before applying them to high-stakes pursuits.

There are a variety of metrics sales managers can use to assess training progress:

Sentiment Surveys

Sentiment surveys question participants about their opinions and attitudes regarding training. This helps measure the participant’s readiness to learn and uncover potential roadblocks.

Baseline and Final Check Assessment

In a Baseline and Final Check Assessment, sellers are asked to indicate the next step they would take in a given sales scenario. These questions measure baseline proficiency at the start of a participant’s learning journey against proficiency gained during and after training. Results can be visualized against industry and peer cohort benchmarks.

Practice Exercises

Practice exercises allow sellers to hone their skills by responding to simulated selling challenges. Immediately following, sellers should receive feedback that indicates what response is best given in the scenario. This ensure optimal understanding of the selling challenge.

The data from these metrics helps track and measure leading indicators for training success. Sales managers need to carefully monitor these indicators. Long sales cycles often delay information that reveals bottom line impact. Sales managers, understandably, don’t want to wait for months to see if training is effective.

Integrate Measurement Within the CRM Platform

Integrating measurement within the CRM platform allows sales managers to make concrete coaching decisions. For example, CRM integrated measurements can give sales managers insight into their team’s performance based on a variety of metrics. The metrics include learning, behavior change, and real-time execution of learned skills.

This visibility enables sales leaders to coach to the specific needs of each seller in timely situations. They can schedule a coaching event while an opportunity pursuit is still in play, improving the likelihood that the coaching will drive meaningful outcomes. Moreover, consistency in coaching makes it easier for sales professionals to see the rationale behind the manager’s coaching decisions.

Some of the most effective sales organizations take this approach even further by partnering with solution providers that leverage a data lake measurement and analysis strategy. This aggregates data from different areas in one place. When selling organizations combine assessment and learning data with workflow, coaching, and support data, they can quickly see what is working and what isn’t. This also helps internal parties understand the numbers and what they mean, leaving little room for disagreement. This kind of integrated measurement approach makes it easier for sales managers to identify the skills that are most correlated with success.

A data-driven sales coaching approach turns insights into impact. When implementing this approach, sales leaders can better address the needs of their sales team through analytical performance data. These analytics show coaches exactly where individual sellers require guidance. By focusing on the core principles of a data-driven coaching method, sales managers  equip their teams with skills needed to move through the sales cycle and close more deals.  

Want to increase your effectiveness, efficiency, and agility as a sales leader? Download Richardson’s Sales Management Curriculum brochure to learn more.

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