A global survey by Forum EMEA and The Sales Management Association has found that a quarter of managers are still not coaching their sales teams despite admitting that coaching is the single most important tool for driving sales performance. The research entitled, ‘Measuring Sales Management’s Coaching Impact,’ represents data from over 200 companies, employing a total of more than 500,000 sales people.
Forum EMEA, experts in leadership development and sales performance training, found that the main obstacles to effective coaching today are: managers were either too busy to coach, they didn’t know how to coach or they weren’t expected to coach or held accountable for coaching.
Those that do coach often do it badly; with little structure, vision or purpose. The report showed that, on average, sales coaching is given more to under-performers, new starters or those that specifically request it, revealing that managers tend to coach more when they have to rather than proactively and as part of their daily management routine. Managers are using coaching to raise poor performance to acceptable levels rather than as a positive management intervention with pre-defined objectives and a focus to elevate performance across all salespeople.
Despite evidence of poor coaching practice, those surveyed admitted that sales coaching was the most important of all sales activities in improving the company’s overall sales effectiveness and therefore, the business bottom line. Coaching was rated ahead of sales training, new customer acquisition and cross-selling/up-selling as being the activity to most influence sales performance. In fact, the findings revealed that high performing companies provide 15% to 20% more coaching than under-performing organisations.
But the report revealed that organisations are failing managers by not providing the basic elements of a successful coaching programme. “Executive endorsement, management accountability, success measurement and pre-determined program objectives are all characteristics commonly found in the humblest of initiatives but we, together with Forum, have found that they remain missing in many sales coaching programs today,” commented Robert Kelly, chairman and founder of The Sales Management Association.
Graham Scrivener, Managing Director of Forum EMEA, added: “The link between coaching and performance has been evident for almost 40 years now but the report shows that organisations and managers are still getting it wrong.
“Coaching should be a core value of the business, built within the company’s culture. It is about knowing how to drive the vision of the business through people so it needs to be driven from the top down and modelled across the company at all levels. Managers are very busy but managers who are measured and incentivised for their coaching success will be encouraged to integrate it into their daily management routine, as long as they’re given the right skills and tools to do it effectively.”
Top tips to improving sales coaching, byForum EMEA
- Coach and train your sales managers to be better coaches
- Invest in both high performers and under achievers to get the best ROI
- Direct coaching toward specific behaviours, competencies and performance objectives
- Quality coaching has a greater impact than just coaching
- Establish a coaching culture and provide structure, accountability and support