Sales managers have limited opportunity to observe sales reps in real-time. We don’t mean
creeping looking over their shoulder, but rather observing reps to identify coaching opportunities. Managers have a busy schedule. Between running a sales team, reviewing metrics, and other daily tasks it’s not uncommon for coaching to take a backseat. That’s why taking a data-driven approach to sales coaching is vital. A manager can use metrics to help improve sales coaching in order to develop their sales team.
We use data to personalize the buying experience, so why not apply it to coaching? Performance data provides managers with concrete facts by which to identify improvement areas and personalize coaching efforts. We’ve detailed below the benefits of using data and how to apply it to sales coaching.
1. Data makes finding areas of improvement easier
I’m sure we’re all familiar with Magic Eye images. To see the picture, the viewer needs to stare at the image long enough (preferably without getting a headache) for the picture to reveal itself. Finding coaching opportunities can sometimes feel like staring at a Magic Eye image. Data helps sales leaders see the big picture and provide insight into which areas require the most attention.
Knowing which areas to focus on makes the best use of both the manager’s and rep’s time. No one wants to sit through training on an area that isn’t a weakness. Coaching is only beneficial if it is relevant and will positively impact performance.
2. Data provides historical context
If you look at the entire history of the Earth’s existence, humanity is barely a blip on the timeline. Understanding the big picture helps put events and behaviors into perspective. A manager can use data to look at performance over an extended period and identify if an issue is a regular occurrence or a one-time event.
For example, if a manager notices a pattern of meetings resulting in no-shows, they’ll know that this is an area that requires attention. The manager can provide training on the importance of sending reminder emails and confirming appointment times with the customer. If the no-show is just a one-time event, the manager can focus on other coaching priorities.
3. Visibility into activity
Did you know we spend a combined six months of our lifetime sitting at red lights? When you analyze the time spent on small activities it can add up. Data gives managers insight into which tasks a rep is spending the most time on and redirect their focus if necessary.
The amount of time a rep spends talking during a sales call influences results. Top sales performers listen to their prospects more, with a 46:54 talk-to-listen-ratio. A sales manager can utilize meeting intelligence data to analyze the amount of time a rep spends talking and provide coaching on active listening.
Making performance data available to reps is equally important. People are visual by nature, and the ability to track and monitor personal metrics can be a strong motivator to improve performance. It also allows a rep to track their progress and know where they stand.
Bonus fact: We spend 44 months (on average) consuming food and beverages throughout our lifetime. At least we’re spending more time eating burritos than sitting at red lights!
4. Timely coaching
We mentioned that managers have limited opportunities to observe reps in real-time. Lack of visibility can make reinforcing coaching techniques and ensuring reps are practicing what they learn challenging. Reinforcement is critical, especially when Sales Performance International warns that employees forget approximately 50% of training within five-weeks. Real-time data can enable leaders to provide timely coaching. Technology like Live Call Studio allows managers to provide coaching in the moment.
If a manager notices a rep recently made a high volume of phone calls without leaving a voicemail or following-up with an email, they can correct the issue before it develops into a bad habit. Seeing the data in real-time means the manager doesn’t have to wait until a 1:1 to address the behavior. The manager just needs to listen in on a call to understand if a rep is clearly stating next steps.
5. Data helps maintain objectivity
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Using data to coach allows a manager to remain objective when addressing improvement areas. A sales rep might take feedback personally, as a critique of his or her personality. Data provides proof about how a behavior is impacting performance. It’s easier to prove a point when there are facts and figures to support the claim.
A Word of Caution
It’s possible to drown in too much data. Data provides insight into performance patterns and behaviors, but it doesn’t paint the complete picture. A good manager will use data as a coaching tool, but won’t rely entirely on it. Think of the data as a guide. Getting to the bottom of an issue requires exploration beyond pulling stats.
Data should compliment the coaching process. It allows a manager to identify patterns, reinforce training, and identify areas that need the most improvement. Relying solely on the data to coach takes the person out of the equation and treats the rep as just another metric.
A data-driven approach to coaching allows a manager to track performance without having to look over their sales reps’ shoulders throughout the day.