Which salesperson would most benefit from a coaching program

By
 |
May 31, 2024

Organizations are ready to invest in sales training and coaching; however, confusion arises over who would benefit most from them. 

A simple rule of thumb is that sales coaching is for more experienced sales reps, whereas sales training is better suited for sales reps who are just starting out.

Now comes the question: which salesperson would most benefit from a coaching program?

Any sales rep who has been underperforming- whether sporadically or continuously- will benefit from a coaching program. It helps revisit the basics, learn from better-performing reps and meet their targets consistently. 

How do I identify the salesperson who requires sales coaching?

Find the cause of underperformance 

First, we need to understand what has caused underperformance. One of the most common reasons is that the sales reps did not properly line up their prospect pipelines. So even if they closed a big deal this month, their next month might be red because they did not line up the right lead for the next deal.

The sales coach needs to gather the sales performance data for at least the previous two quarters or the last year’s data and analyze them to understand the sales reps' performance. 

This includes looking at external factors like the market and region in which the sales rep practices, the segment of practice, the price of the product, and the product that is being sold. 

Group the salespeople based on performance

Generally, targets are set to ensure that they are not too easy to achieve or tough to push through. As such, usually, a 70% sales target achievement is considered satisfactory in most cases. 

In my experience, apart from the average group where most sales reps achieve 70% or more in targets month on month, there are three more groups within the team. 

  • Underperformers - Those who hit lower than 70% in targets monthly. 
  • Overachievers - Those who hit 100% or more consistently 
  • Sporadic performers - Those who overachieve sporadically. 

 A sporadic performer may overachieve one month and have zero sales the next month. Such an inconsistent performance also needs to be flagged and analyzed. It is also critical to note the market performance in which the rep is selling. A bad market condition affected by political or economic issues affecting sales is real.

You can’t ask a salesperson to hit $10 million in revenue from a country going through an economic meltdown, usually!

Identify the gaps

Isolate the market fluctuations and understand why the rep’s performance was below par. Identify the gaps, like whether they lack basic skills, are not aware of the correct actions to be taken for specific scenarios, do not fill their pipeline for next month, or are spending time on things not required of them which is directly affecting their productivity. 

Compare it with what’s working for others

Prepare a consolidated analysis and compare it against the better-performing sales reps. It’s necessary to observe why the top performers have better results. What is it that they are doing differently? How do they know which accounts to target and actions to ensure successfully converted leads?

Based on the differences observed, build a sales coaching plan customized to the sales reps' weaknesses. Having a customized plan ensures that individual sales reps are not performing generic methods and failing repeatedly. 

How to provide effective sales coaching to such underperforming sales reps

Intentional coaching is the best way to achieve the best results from sales coaching for underperforming sales reps. Special attention needs to be provided to them to ensure the best results. Let us take a look at some of the proven methods that help underperforming sales reps implement the coaching tips to succeed:

Building a sales handbook

One of the best ways to coach an under-performer is to teach them the ways and practices of a top performer! This can be done by thoroughly analyzing the strategies used by the top-performing sales rep, understanding why these methods perform better, and creating a sales handbook based on these practices. 

Build a formal improvement plan and implement the sales handbook practices to ensure the best results. Ensure to include goals, intermediate steps, and a fixed timeline. Explain the plan to the sales rep and watch them achieve targets consistently!

Shadow top-performing sales reps

What can be better than reading the theory about how a top performer cracked great deals month after month? To watch them do it live. Assign top performers to underperformers. 

Encourage the underperformers to shadow the better reps' methodology. Watching them put their methods into practice live helps the under-performers better catch onto nuances, understand responses to scenarios, and understand which methods work for them. 

Conduct regular evaluation meetings

Giving the underperforming reps the right resources is important. However, an even more important step is evaluating them regularly. These evaluation meetings should be touch bases where we ask the reps under coaching about their experience with the methods. 

Before going into the meeting, analyze their recent performance reports and prepare your detailed feedback with important pointers to ensure maximum productivity. Record the underperforming sales reps' calls and make notes on their conversation. Highlight specific portions that have improved and those that need rework. 

Tools like MeetRecord can record and make notes for specific segments, cut out particular portions to be perused separately, etc.

Listen to any suggestion that the sales reps have to tweak the customized coaching plans. Let it be a collaborative session. When the communication is two-way, the reps feel more welcome and enthusiastic to perform better.

Conclusion

Every organization will have 20% top performers, 60% middle- and under-performers, and 20% struggling, low-performers. The top performers are already experts at the game and don’t need extensive sales coaching. The low-performers are probably not interested in improving their skill sets and are not the right fit for the sales profile.

The middle 60% of the sales reps are where we need to concentrate. These sales reps are the ones that benefit most from the extra coaching. They need a nudge in the right direction and frequent coaching to help hone their skills. 

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