Here’s what sales leaders need to focus on to drive next-level results

Here’s what sales leaders need to focus on to drive next-level results

Here’s what sales leaders need to focus on to drive next-level results

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Sales managers frequently look for ways to quickly increase sales. How can we increase our sales this quarter? What can we do that will have an impact now? New research provides answers that business leaders can put into practice today.

In a study of more than 1,000 salespeople and sales managers that analyzes the skills and behaviors of top performing salespeople and sales managers – those most likely to meet their quota, have higher achievement and maintain premium pricing – we’ve identified areas where top performers differ significantly from the rest.

For starters, the average success rate of proposals between the two groups is drastically different. The top performers get an average success rate of 72%, compared to 47% for the others. As we’ve shared before, small changes in win rate can lead to big changes in your top line.

Think about your pipeline forecast for the quarter. Even a few percentage points difference in win rate is often the difference between meeting or exceeding the quota – or not.

So what can you do to improve your chances of hitting your target? Look at your sales coaching. Specifically, look at how often salespeople are coached, the coaching skills of sales managers, and the type of coaching salespeople receive.

Related: Why More Sales Managers Focus on Sales Coaching

Frequency of business coaching

Our research found that top performing salespeople and sales teams are 1.5x more likely to benefit from regular, ongoing coaching. Additionally, salespeople who are coached consistently report higher skills in all areas – from discovering needs, developing solutions, building relationships, advancing the sale, negotiating , prospecting, account growth, virtual selling and more.

Sales management and coaching skills

Leaders of top-performing sales teams are more likely to excel in these five areas:

  1. Motivate salespeople for high productivity and performance: It’s surprising that not only is it the #1 sales management and coaching skill that the best excel at, but it’s also the #1 that separates the best from the rest the most. Motivating sales teams for productivity and performance is an area that has received little attention in the sales world. Yet helping salespeople and sales managers be maximally productive is strongly correlated with peak performance. Top performing sales manager teams are significantly more likely to score higher on the nine productivity behaviors and skills studied than other managers. They get the most out of it, stay focused, change their habits, are less likely to be distracted, manage their time well, and maintain their energy.

  2. Help sellers solve problems and challenges: With regular and ongoing coaching, managers are more likely to uncover sales challenges and can help solve them. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

  3. Support sellers to develop their accounts: More on this one below.

  4. Lead valuable one-on-one coaching meetings: The most successful sales managers are adept at leading successful coaching meetings. They hold these conversations at a regular cadence and their conversations have a greater impact. Imagine having a manager who meets with you intermittently or without a regular schedule, and when they do, the coaching is irrelevant and adds little or no value. This is not very motivating (see point 1). Yet this is what happens in most sales organizations.

  5. Support salespeople to develop their sales skills: Forty-one percent of top-performing sales managers focus on building salesperson skills. Sales managers need to develop salespeople’s knowledge, skills, and attributes to improve short- and long-term performance. And top performers agree: They’re 83% more likely to rate their managers as extremely or very effective in helping them achieve strong sales performance.

Related: How to Build a World-Class Sales Team

Coaching towards a variety of skills

A lot of coaching focuses on deal coaching – what we can do to accelerate that deal, to win that opportunity, to move a sale forward, etc. While deal coaching is essential and should be done on a regular basis, top-performing sales managers also excel in other key areas of coaching:

  • Growing accounts: Coaching to grow accounts is also one of the biggest differences between high performers and low performers. According to Gartner, account growth is often a top priority for CEOs and CSOs. Yet the same report notes that most CSOs agree that their current key account strategies and approaches are insufficient. A key account program that includes regular coaching around account growth and holding sellers accountable for their account growth plans can help.

  • Conduct masterful sales conversations: Sales are won and lost based on the conversations sellers have with buyers. With ongoing coaching, managers can help dramatically improve sales conversation skills for salespeople.

  • Virtual sale: For two years, the virtual has become the norm. And in the future, the hybrid sale will dominate. Top managers have coached their salespeople, helping them adapt to the virtual environment and overcome the challenges virtual selling presents.

Related: 10 Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Role as a Sales Leader

High performing sales managers are more likely to coach their salespeople to be successful. To boost your sales this quarter (and long term), look no further than the sales coaching your salespeople receive. Establish a regular and ongoing coaching rhythm between managers and their sales teams, ensure sales managers are skilled at conducting one-on-one coaching meetings, and ensure they are skilled at coaching in different skill areas .

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