Sales managers can claim to have a healthy sales team when they reach 80% to 90% of their sales team members performing at or above their individual sales quotas. The trouble is, sales managers often have only 30% to 40% of their salespeople at or above quota. That means that on a team of eight salespeople, five individuals could be in danger of either not succeeding or needing to be let go.
Back in the 1400s and 1500s, if you wanted to go from point A to point B faster, you needed to use a new invention called a “coach.” Of course, coaches were horse-drawn back then, but the idea of sales coaching is for you to help your salespeople move quickly from wherever they are today to Point B, where they are performing at or above quota.
How can a sales manager get more salespeople above their quotas? I have two recommendations:
#1- make a daily commitment to proactive sales coaching
Every day, sales managers should have at least one hour scheduled in their calendar dedicated to coaching at least one person on the team one-on-one.
Too often, sales managers are reactive in who they coach. They wait until a salesperson has a lousy month or two, then swoop in and dump a bunch of coaching on them. Guess what message that sends to the rest of the team! “If you’re bad enough, then I’ll coach you.”
Don’t sit back and wait for a salesperson to have a bad month. Don’t wait for a sales rep to say, “Hey, boss, I have a problem here. Can you help me?” Be proactive if you want to provide more effective coaching. Take your coaching to your salespeople.
Another misguided strategy for sales coaching is to spend more time with your top salespeople because they are working the biggest deals. While every salesperson has room for improvement, your top performers will likely close those deals on their own. They are likely near or exceeding their quota, right? So spending too much time with them is robbing the people who could benefit the most and the fastest from your coaching.
If you want more people to perform at or above quota, look for opportunities to coach and develop your salespeople. That is the sales coaching mindset it takes to develop an elite high-performance sales team.
#2 – document and communicate high sales standards
If I were to poll every single one of your salespeople right now and ask them “other than achieving your sales quota, what standards do you have to meet to be successful on this team?” how many different answers would I get? I’m betting every salesperson would have a different interpretation of what it takes to be successful on your team.
You, as the manager have to define the standards—specific results, skills, and attitudes—that your team members need to succeed on your team. And I don’t mean “you won’t be fired if you hit this low number” standard. I mean standards that create a vivid picture of excellence for your salespeople to aspire to. What does sales greatness mean for your sales team? What is the “point B” you can help salespeople reach faster because of your coaching?
Then you need to clearly communicate these standards to each person, along with your expectation that they will work to meet (or exceed) those standards.
Sales managers have no more painful experience than high salesperson turnover. Hiring salespeople takes a huge amount of your time, and then the replacement takes months and sometimes a year or two to ramp up to success.
The salespeople who are below their quota are the ones most likely to either quit or be fired. And the salespeople next most likely to quit are the ones who are successful but who lack a loyal connection to your company.
Proactive sales coaching that helps people reach your standards of excellence can prevent both situations. And that means your sales team survives and thrives under your sales leadership!