How to Prepare for the Future of Sales Coaching

Cutting-edge sales organizations are utilizing real-time feedback and applying advanced sales coaching analytics to develop, retain, and empower their growing millennial work forces.

Millennial Sales Professionals

Currently, sales organizations are losing talent and money because they cannot effectively engage and retain their Millennial employees. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, over the last 20 years, the number of companies people worked for in the five years following graduation has nearly doubled.  This issue requires urgent attention: Millennials currently represent 40% of the workforce, and will only become more common in years to come. To attain success, businesses must drive engagement and loyalty among Millennials to increase sales force retention and productivity.  How can businesses improve these crucial metrics? According to recent Gallup research “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” Millennials want much more frequent feedback, better quality feedback, engaging work, and a coach as opposed to a boss (Crowley 2016).

Consequently, companies are drastically revamping organizational feedback processes regarding sales coaching to optimize millennial performance and engagement.  Millennials want an increased quantity of feedback, but also scrutinize feedback quality (Hernandez, 2015). According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review article, many employees, millennials included, currently filter feedback out of fear of retaliation.  However, filtered feedback does not spark change, and thus does not generate improvement. Millennials need direct, honest feedback to continuously improve and remain engaged.  Lastly, as the most tech-savvy working generation ever, Millennials are comfortable communicating important and even potentially emotional information electronically. Consequently, companies should incorporate technology to enhance traditional feedback mechanisms for maximized performance.

Real-Time Feedback

Many industry leaders, such as General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Adobe, Accenture, and Morgan Stanley, are transitioning towards real-time feedback to improve feedback quality and emphasize coaching and collaboration. We discuss GE’s app-supported shift to real-time feedback, as well as the many benefits of real-time, in greater detail here, but the results are astonishing: overall, the company saw a 5x improvement in performance and is rolling out its pilot organization-wide.  (Baldassarre, Finken, 2015). Our clients have experienced similar gains. For instance, one of our clients in financial services used DevelapMe among their sales managers and sales representatives to drive desirable sales force behaviors.  We found that managers who regularly gave feedback and coaching to their sales representatives on sales-specific behaviors using DevelapMe experienced between 8% and 120% higher team productivity when compared to other sales managers not coaching their sales representatives as regularly.  Utilizing technology and real-time feedback creates a culture of shared accountability, continuous dialogue, and enhanced coaching to drive performance.

Advanced Sales Coaching Analytics

Sales coaching analytics allow leadership to x-ray the sales organization and immediately understand the specific sales techniques managers are using to coach their sales professionals–and to what extent that coaching is driving sales outcomes. Leadership can leverage this information to dramatically improve productivity and reduce turnover. Most top sales companies have sophisticated processes for measuring and managing the sales process, as well as robust sales training programs that give sales professionals techniques to increase sales effectiveness. However, sales coaching analytics on demonstrated behaviors let companies dig deeper. Competency-based analytics enhance coaching because leaders can access comprehensive data regarding sales manager actions to ensure managers develop the right behaviors in their sales professionals.

A Powerful Partnership

Like GE, many companies are turning to real-time tools to gain these analytical insights. The Leadership Analytics Group – powered by DevelapMe, a real-time sales coaching feedback app, is one such tool.  DevelapMe enables sales managers to quickly and easily deliver and track sales coaching, producing a real-time sales coaching scorecard for the sales consultant and sales management, throughout the entire sales organization. The DevelapMe scorecard is unique because it focuses on sales coaching behaviors as opposed to standard sales metrics. For example, most organizations track number of appointments obtained per sales consultant per week. However, these desirable outcomes are only produced through successful development of specific, observable sales rep behaviors.

Observable sales rep behaviors include:

  • Asking needs-based questions
  • Identifying client pain points
  • Generating prospect interest

Similarly, leadership may know which sales force members are not obtaining their target numbers, but this information alone does not help sales professionals improve. DevelapMe applies sales coaching analytics to ensure employees receive tailored coaching to improve based on the organization-specific techniques leadership is trying to instill. Through its real-time dashboard, DevelapMe enables sales leaders to: recognize the best sales managers, train and develop the other sales managers, and understand exactly how to help sales managers who are not exhibiting desired sales coaching behaviors improve.  Ultimately, DevelapMe grants sales leadership clarity into the coaching process, showing leaders exactly how to develop behaviors that optimize sales results.

Want to learn more? Check out this sales coaching white paper on 5 recommendations to drive sales force productivity.