Category Archives for "Sales coaching"

Sales enablement best practices, #4 – Manager enablement

Okay. This is not completely scientific, but what I am about to say is based on actual research and years of observation.

The most common word you will hear a sales manager say is “help.”

The research says:

  • Over and over, sales managers receive less training than they need (CSO Insights, 2018; Allego, 2019)
  • Coaching technology is woefully inadequate – and even missing – for over 90% of sales managers (Allego, 2019)
  • The most supported service that sales managers receive is “analytics and metrics” – and that is barely over half of the managers out there (CSO Insights, 2018)

My observation says:

  • Sales managers often weren’t promoted for their sales manager abilities; they were promoted because they were great sellers
  • Sales enablement has over-rotated to just one role – the frontline seller (sales managers are often left to create their own solutions for strategic planning, recruiting, driving high-performance, leadership skills, etc.)

And my own experience says:

  • When I get extra busy, I never have enough time to truly oversee what is being done
  • I can still find myself getting sucked into prioritizing based just on what is screaming loudest (and I know better)

I believe with all of my heart that the best enablement that we can provide to sellers is a great manager. And I am going to guess that you agree with me. So, why don’t we see more being invested in sales managers? Why do managers constantly ask for help as they pursue the never-ending quest of trying to help their own teams?

Honestly, I don’t have a great answer. It boils down to the leadership of the organization seeing that helping managers is a priority over all of the other stuff. And that is a discussion about beliefs.

So, if you work with a leader who doesn’t believe enabling managers is a top priority… you have my deepest sympathy.

But if you do have a chance to invest in – and maybe drive – manager enablement with full leadership support, here is what I suggest.

First, design manager enablement solutions that map to the buyer’s problem-solving journey, then the seller’s problem-solving journey. Note that I am NOT talking about how to sell. I am talking about how to maximize team performance as the sellers help solve customer problems.

Too often, we track how managers oversee sales activities. What we need to track is how managers oversee problem-solving activities – then enable them to do more than track. If you haven’t already mapped out the buyer and seller problem-solving journeys, do it before doing anything else.

Second, architect manager enablement solutions that integrate content, tools, and behaviors. No more random acts of sales manager training without providing the technology and the content for those conversations (sales coaching, anyone?).

The key is that it all works together as a single solution that makes a genuine impact. This also means that if you find an obstacle to building that integrated solution (e.g. the CRM won’t incorporate coaching data with sales data), you will need to SERIOUSLY reconsider if the organization is ready for that solution. Launching something that will not be sustainable is called generating waste…

Third, prioritize your manager enablement solutions based on maximum impact with the least amount of time, cost, and disruption. This is CRITICAL to your success.

Manager enablement is always complex. Therefore, you need to generate quick, sustainable wins and not get dragged down by the complexity. Don’t fall into the trap of prioritizing the biggest – and most – complex solutions as the magical fix-all of your manager enablement woes. It just doesn’t work that way. Instead, build the momentum of a flywheel: small steps that generate bigger ones.

If you haven’t noticed already, I just used the best practices of my previous three weeks’ worth of blogs. And I did that intentionally. For starters, I really do believe that these principles drive amazing sales enablement. I wanted to show how to apply them to a real problem. But I also believe that if you are going to enable anything, enable sales managers first.

Just remember: if you do manager enablement in the wrong way, sales results will most likely go down.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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The MOST important thing to know about sales enablement (and I’m not exaggerating)

It’s not often that a piece of research comes out that really shakes the sales game. This month, I believe that CSO Insights did just that.

In their 2018 Sales Enablement Report, a number of really important data points were shared (download it here – and thanks to Brainshark for making it available for free).

Some of these proved what I have been seeing in our consulting practice for years (I will share some of those thoughts in a moment). But the absolute, most impactful data points were this:

Part 1: If you “do” sales enablement correctly, your quota attainment will outperform companies doing nothing at all by 23%.

Part 2: If you “do” sales enablement INCORRECTLY, your quota attainment  will UNDER-PEFORM companies doing nothing at all by 11%.

Go back and reread those stats for a moment. Because they blow my mind.

This means that:

  • Being committed to sales enablement – but doing it poorly – will LOWER your performance.
  • If you competitor is doing it well – and you are not – you now have a 34% performance chasm to overcome (which also means less money to reinvest in your company compared to what the competitor is doing).
  • An increasing number of companies now have dedicated, in-house sales enablement (61% of all companies surveyed) – and some of those in-house teams might actually be doing harm to their own companies.

This is astounding to me.

I have been an advocate for great sales enablement since before it was called sales enablement. And I am passionate about not only helping customers have great sales experiences, but also sellers having meaningful, productive careers. But this data says that, unless you are one of the companies doing it well, sales enablement still has a long way to go.

In other words, too many organizations have just re-labeled their training/sales ops/marketing players as “sales enablement” and are not seeing expected results. The data clearly shows that doing sales enablement in the right way will drive win rates and quota attainment.

We have to change the narrative, folks. The most important thing to know about sales enablement is that you MUST do it correctly – because doing it incorrectly will hurt your business.

So, what does “doing it” correctly look like?

Here are some of the insights from the report that answer this question:

  • Get your executives involved. Companies that have sales enablement set up with a formal approach and charter experience have 30% better win rate. I believe this is because true enablement requires the kind of functional integration that only executives can drive.
  • Align enablement to the customer’s path. We have long advocated that this is a fundamental requirement for successful sales enablement, and I was delighted to see this point validated by the data. Again, quota attainment grows significantly from 44.9% (customer’s path not considered) up to 58.5% (an actual increase of 30%).
  • Sales coaching is still your best way to make an impact. There is a 25% difference in win rate (from 43.9% up to 54.7%) just by making sure that sales coaching is formally defined and monitored (as opposed to allowing managers do what they want randomly). But more importantly, consider how sales coaching will make every sales enablement effort that much more effective. Everything from rolling out new tools and messaging to onboarding new sellers can be improved by ensuring that your sales managers are coaching their people.

There really is much more to say about how to “do” sales enablement correctly, but I’ll let you read the report before going any further.

Let me leave you with this: Selling is a constantly evolving – and increasingly complex – business. As a result, it requires a new approach to making it both effective and efficient. Please don’t leave it to happen organically. Make it a strategic priority to embed sales enablement in your overall strategic planning – because how you execute is as critical as what you execute.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS Want to make sure you are getting the most out of your sales enablement efforts? Schedule a conversation with me now and let’s take 15 minutes to see if we should be working together.

The number one thing that you can do to increase sales in 2019

Let me begin by saying that there is no magical silver bullet for slaying whatever monsters are eating your sales. You will ALWAYS have to deal with:

  • Evolving customer expectations
  • The need to innovate
  • The competition
  • The skillset and mindset of your team
  • Emerging technology
  • And so on…

So, while there is no single solution that will fix everything, there is one thing that will absolutely lift your sales: sales coaching.

Look, is it an old solution? Yep. I actually prefer to call it timeless. But I have to keep talking about it – because IT ISN”T GETTING DONE ENOUGH.

Exhibit A: Look at how sports teams that changed coaches went from middling to excellence. Consider the LA Rams, the Chicago Bears, and my favorite this year – the Cleveland Browns. Coaches matter. They change the culture and get the best out of their players. Even when their players are struggling (Jared Goff), their overall performance is in decline (the Bears), and there is drama in both the locker room and the head office (Cleveland). Is sales that much different than sports? I don’t think so.

Exhibit B: Research consistently shows how much coaching makes a difference. From the formal, academic stuff posted in HBR to the findings of organizations like CSO Insights, the conclusion is always the same: sales coaching matters. Is your company somehow immune to the benefits? Again, I don’t think so.

I could go on with more talking points, but let’s get to the bottom line: What is holding your sales coaching efforts back from driving the surge you need in performance?

Here are the four most common reasons that I see.

First, you don’t coach. You (and your team) do something else. But if you are not (a) observing live, uninterrupted sales interactions (i.e. you are not talking– at all), (b) aggressively tackling the de-motivators that affect your team, AND (c) providing meaningful, developmental feedback to the sales person in a fresh and digestible way, you are not coaching. You need all three of these elements (observation, motivation, and feedback) to be a coach. You may have great human beings in the manager seats, but getting the best out of their people is not happening.

Second, you didn’t promote coaches. You (and your team) have put “super sellers” in charge – and there was little to no attention put into recruiting and promoting great coaches into that role. The impact is pretty obvious – a pedal-to-the-floor mentality about achieving results – and high employee turnover. With inconsistent sales results. This only works if you sell the hottest innovation in your industry. And that’s a short-term win, because even the mighty eventually stumble.

Third, you don’t hold people accountable for coaching. Want to test yourself? How much of a manager’s bonus is attached to sales coaching metrics? If the answer is “uhhhh…”, you should immediately know that you have an opportunity. Because VERY few people do what they are supposed to do without some form of compensation. I know far too many great human beings who will cancel their coaching activities in the name of getting “other priorities” done – because that other stuff has a dollar amount attached to it. And this doesn’t even begin to touch on how the recruiting/promotion/retention cycle of sales managers is affected.

Fourth, you don’t equip your managers to be coaches. By far, the most common complaint I hear (and observe) from sales managers is the lack of training and support they receive to be better coaches. They may or may not be given good training. They may or may not be given good coaching tools and technology. But the greatest asset they need is TIME. And they simply don’t have it. This could be their fault for not prioritizing well, but let’s be honest – go back to point #3. Are they paid to create time? Are they held accountable for it? Sadly, I see many businesses ignore point #3 simply because they don’t want to give their managers time. And if they don’t give the time… it becomes a vicious circle.

So, what is your situation?

Do you have a role that can impact how sales coaching is done – or not done – in 2019?

If you were to diagnose your situation, where is it going well and where is it struggling?

But the real question is not “what do you need to do?” Rather, it is “are you going to do anything about it?”

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.