While many sales managers know “coaching” as a buzzword, they don’t truly understand why it’s important. And when they don’t understand, and/or when the organization doesn’t take the time to measure the effectiveness of coaching, they’re not doing themselves or their organization justice.
Sales coaching has increased exponentially in the last 15 years, and with good reason: Meta-analysis research has found that coaching has “significant positive effects” on a variety of outcomes. What’s more difficult to ascertain is how sales managers can quantify and measure the effectiveness of their coaching of team members. Here are six key metrics and behaviors you can use to determine how well you or your sales managers are doing in regards to coaching.
The simplest and easiest way to determine effectiveness is to look at the return on investment. Indeed, ROI has traditionally been the method used to determine whether or not sales coaching is working. While it is a useful barometer, it doesn’t provide a complete picture and is only a surface-level measure. Furthermore, there are many factors that influence sales outcomes – not just coaching. Trying to isolate outcomes in a direct cause-effect relationship with coaching is too difficult a task. Therefore, we need to dig deeper and look at other possible assessment sources.
2. Mutual Manager/Employee Self-Assessment
Follow-up meetings can involve the use of various assessment tools, such as a self-reporting form that asks the employee and manager to rate their perceptions of how the coached skills have improved (or not). By comparing and discussing the results, the sales rep and manager together can identify what areas have been strengthened by coaching and to what degree. This process also provides an opportunity for diagnostic work: Does the rep need additional coaching in the original areas, or have new areas come up that they need to address?
3. Earlier Recognition of Problem Areas
When sales coaching is effective, sales reps have a greater appreciation of and respect for their managers. As a result, there’s a climate and culture of trust. In this type of culture, team members are both more likely to recognize situations they’re struggling with (because the process of resolving issues through coaching has given them the experience to see earlier when they need improvement) and to approach their manager for help and more coaching (due to the atmosphere of mutual trust and respect).
4. Measuring Productivity Through Leading Indicators Analysis
Often, organizations and sales managers focus primarily on lagging indicators, such as measures of success and effectiveness. While that approach certainly has value, for a more holistic view, and arguably an even better sense of sales coaching’s effectiveness, consider leading indicators – for example, numbers of prospects, conversion rates of prospects to leads and leads to opportunities, and length of sales cycle. Examining productivity through every step of the sales process provides the most complete picture possible of the results of sales coaching.
5. Retention of Top Performers and Faster Onboarding of New Employees
Stepping away from the micro-level of individual employees to focus on the macro overview of the team as a whole, sales managers can determine whether coaching has improved both the retention of their best members and whether the acclimation period of new hires has shortened. If those parameters have shown improvement, the sales manager has succeeded in making his or her star sales staff feel valued and in integrating new employees more quickly – which, in turn, will lead to increased sales and deeper, more meaningful relationships with clients.
6. Fewer Sick Days and Less Stress
When sales reps receive quality coaching, they not only feel appreciated, but they’re more productive and happier in their jobs. That leads to decreased stress levels, fewer cases of burnout (always a concern in the grinding, demanding world of sales), and less time taken to deal with health issues. While this particular measure isn’t traditionally considered in terms of determining coaching effectiveness, it may, in fact, be one of the key indicators.
Though the prospect of measuring the results of sales coaching may seem daunting at first, there’s several simple ways to give your sales organization an excellent idea of how it is doing. Studying these areas will present a clear, specific view of coaching effectiveness, leading to a more productive, better sales team that consistently hits targets.