How to Implement a Coaching Culture

Coaching is certainly a popular management term in business today. Every company says that they have a coaching culture, but many times it is fiction and not fact. In my consulting practice what I see is a lot of talk about coaching, but not a lot of action. If a sales organization is really serious about coaching, it will have a metrics-driven process that reinforces the company’s cultural vision. Coaching is not a once in a while event, but an ongoing process that should be a top priority for a company and its managers. A metrics-driven coaching process is rooted in senior management meeting monthly with field managers and discussing specific coaching plans for each originator based on sales metrics and personalized action plans.

The coaching process should focus on a selling skill that the originator works with his or her manager to improve upon. The originator and manager develop a customized individual coaching plan that targets the specific selling skill.

When coaching is a serious priority, companies require the second-tier-level manager to submit coaching plans to senior management for review and input. When it is not a priority, senior management allows the manager to be haphazard with the coaching approach and they don’t measure and inspect it.

For coaching to work, the originator must have monthly one-on-one conversations with his or her manager. The manager provides input on the originator’s performance and discusses next steps. The originator must be an active participant in analyzing his or her own results and diagnosing skill deficiencies. Through the discussion, a mutually agreed upon approach to improvement is determined. Too often, the employee’s part is ignored which can lead to lack of progress. The evaluation by the originator increases the likelihood of self- improvement. Obviously, a good manager will have an idea of which skill needs improvement, but without the buy-in of the salesperson, it is impossible for any real change to occur.

So where do the metrics come in to play? While the answer varies from company to company, Mark Roberge suggests the following in his book, The Sales Acceleration Formula:

• The first pass of sales metrics should be to use the high-level metrics that are already tracked. Volume is not a metric, but an outcome of a set of activities that the person should perform. Managers should be looking at their sales funnel or the activities.

• It is recommended that a manager select four or five metrics that all salespeople will be measured on. Then all salespeople can be evaluated to determine a pattern that identifies the top and the average producers.

• “Peeling back the onion” is the process of determining the areas of concern for each sales person and his or her skill deficiency. Looking at low volume numbers does not tell the manager where the real issue is that can addressed with coaching. A more in-depth review of the individual’s sales sequence needs to be performed.

In my experience, a lack of prospecting is a core issue more so then closing and overcoming objectives. But each person is different and needs to be evaluated by sales metrics before starting a coaching effort.

Do you have a sales metrics coaching process? If the answer is no let’s discuss how you would implement one.