As a sales manager, your ultimate goal is to boost your sales team's performance. However, sales managers unknowingly set themselves up for failure. In their desire to improve sales performance, they make the mistake of managing numbers AND managing salespeople.
The best sales managers recognize that you manage numbers. You lead people.
This leads me to address a common coaching mistake made by sales managers. They confuse deal review with deal coaching, impacting their ability to improve their sales team's performance.
Deal review is analyzing sales numbers, managing the numbers. This involves analyzing the number of opportunities entering the sales pipeline, number and average deal size of opportunities in each selling stage and close ratios.
It’s critical to understand and manage your sales numbers.
Knowing and understanding the sales numbers doesn’t CHANGE the numbers!
Deal coaching is where the magic happens because deal coaching changes the numbers. Deal coaching is where you lead your sales team to master positive mindsets, habits and improved skill sets.
According to Gartner, the highest performing sales managers place a high priority on sales coaching, which can increase business win rates by 28%. My guess is that these high performing managers engage in a combination of deal review AND deal coaching.
Effective sales managers analyze the numbers to determine where a salesperson is getting stuck. THEN, they move into deal coaching, preparing the right questions to uncover the root cause of stalled deals.
Let’s look at an example of deal review and deal coaching.
A sales manager is meeting with a salesperson who is struggling to fill the top of the sales funnel. The data from the CRM tool clearly shows that there are not enough new opportunities entering the sales pipeline.
It would be tempting to take the easy and quick path of coaching, “Well, looks like you need to do more activity in order to fill the funnel.” Effective sales managers avoid prescribing a quick fix. They prepare and ask thoughtful questions to understand the underlying issue fully.
How are the targets you are pursuing aligned with our ideal client profile? Have you conducted a win/loss analysis to ensure that our ideal client is STILL our ideal client?
Help your salesperson avoid the working harder not smarter trap. A salesperson can’t sell to prospects that are not willing or able to buy.
What is your sales message when reaching out to these prospects? Are you solving an old business pain or a current business pain?
Change is occurring faster and faster in business. A salesperson that is not frequently updating their sales messaging might be reaching out with a value proposition that isn’t relevant. It’s yesterday’s news, not today’s challenge.
How many contacts are you reaching out to in this opportunity?
In tough economic times, decision making moves up the ladder and around the ladder. A salesperson may not be achieving top of the funnel sales numbers because he or she isn’t deep enough or wide enough in the account.
When you connect with a prospect, what is the biggest objection you hear? Let me hear your response to this objection.
Salespeople often get emotionally triggered by objections and aren’t able to deliver an appropriate response. They end up stumbling and bumbling trying to overcome the objection, which doesn’t create trust or a further conversation with prospects. Invest in drill skills until your salesperson demonstrates the ability to give a smart response while sounding confident and relaxed.
To drive sales performance, remember that you manage numbers. You lead people. Deal review is knowing your numbers. Deal coaching changes the numbers.