Coaching - Who really cares about it the most in your company?

Last week I spent some time with a Senior Head of Enablement at a Fortune 500 company, understanding their current approach to sales coaching. I went through some key qualification questions such as who is ultimately responsible for coaching reps in the business, how their managers get an insight into capabilities of their reps, and importantly - how frequently they coach. The answers to these were the three key responses I seem to hear on a somewhat ever increasing basis:

"My managers"

"We look at how many calls/demos they make and how much revenue they bring in"

"I have absolutely no idea"

Analysing these answers further, I come up with the following opinions:

"My managers"

- makes sense. In fact, recent studies have shown that 3/4 of companies believe coaching and mentoring reps is the SINGLE MOST important role a front line manager plays. When considering that sales coaching can increase sales rep performance by up to 20% (with obvious variables factored in here), the case is compelling when benchmarked against investing in things like one-off training or sales acceleration tools.

"We look at how many calls/demos they make and how much revenue they bring in"

-Ahhh, hold your horses a minute there. Let's really look into that further. Your assessment of the capabilities of your reps is not based on how they prospect, the quality of conversations they have, the way they handle the sales process, or even the closing techniques they leverage. Your assessment of capabilities is down to looking at baseline metrics and how much they have closed. The question I have therefore is how do you make decisions on helping to improve your reps who aren't performing or who aren't closing as much as they should be? Are your managers simply spending too much time coaching the deals rather than skills? Are your managers actually leading blind?

"I have absolutely no idea"

-This is not surprising. Indeed especially with companies of such a size both in employee numbers and locations, tracking the amount of coaching that's happening can become challenging. Is this really an excuse though for what is deemed to be a manager's most important function? Would such a laid back approach be extended if for example there was a lack of insight into how many calls or demos were being conducted on a weekly basis? Forward thinking companies create managerial KPI's for coaching and utilise sales coaching tools such as Refract to actually measure coaching quality and consistency.

Discussing quote three further with the prospect, and how much of a problem they deemed this to be- the feeling was that this was accepted to be a company issue which 'comes up time and time again', but ultimately is something which comes down to the managers desire to address it. This was not looked at as a priority problem to solve, but was simply something which 'comes up quite frequently'.This left me with the following questions:

  • Who really is responsible for implementing a coaching culture within an organisation? Leadership? Management? Reps?
  • If coaching is deemed to be the most crucial part of a sales managers role, then why is there no measurement of how often it takes place and/or how effective it is?
  • Why do leading companies accept that not having an insight into the quantity of coaching is an issue, but ultimately don't prioritise solving it?
  • Should we be concerned of the delusion around what coaching actually is and that 'coaching metrics' is so heavily ingrained in our sales teams?
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