Improving Sales Productivity | Part 2: Helping Sales Managers Find More Time For Coaching

In part one of this two-part blog series on sales productivity, we looked at how salespeople are spending their time and what sales operations can do to give them time back. Today we’ll take a closer look at how sales managers are spending their time and how sales operations can help them find more time for coaching.

Last week we shared how sales professionals are spending two-thirds of their time on non-selling activities. So how are sales managers spending their time?

Sales managers spend twice as much time on internal navigation and reporting as on coaching their teams. (Click to tweet)

First, let’s look at the time spent on coaching. According to our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, sales managers spend 14.2% of their time coaching their teams. If we do the math, this means 14% of a 40-hour week equals 5.6 hours. For a manager with eight sellers on their team, that would mean 0.7 hours of coaching time per seller, which is 42 minutes per week for all coaching areas (lead, opportunities, funnel, skills, account and territory). Click here to read more on different types of sales coaching.

It’s important to note here that sales coaching should not be equated with time spent managing activities. At CSO Insights, we define sales coaching as a process by which sales managers and others use a defined approach and specific communication skills combined with domain expertise to facilitate structured conversations with sales professionals to uncover improvement areas and opportunities for new levels of sales success.

As sales coaching is considered to be the most effective enablement service, with two-digit improvements in win rates year after year, we should create circumstances that give sales managers more of what really matters. (Click to tweet)

Let’s now look at what they are spending twice as much time on instead of coaching their teams.

When we break out “internal navigation” and “reporting” (totaling 32.6%), we find that sales managers spend around 18.4% of their time on “internal navigation” – defined as advocating and selling internally on behalf of sellers and customers, working with finance, legal and product teams as well as with sales executives. And they spend another 14.2% of their time on “reporting,” which includes pipeline, forecast management and other analyses.

If sales operations can help sales managers be more efficient at these two activities, and help regain even 10% of their time, that equates to 4 hours of their time back that they can redirect to sales coaching. This would take the original 5.6 hours to 9.6 hours. For a sales manager with eight direct reports, this would translate to 30 minutes additional time on sales coaching per person, making it 72 minutes total per week – 36 minutes per person on lead and opportunity coaching and 36 minutes per person on skills and behaviors or funnel coaching. They would be spending 24% of their time on coaching, which is recommended, instead of the current 14.2%.

Here are some ways sales operations can help increase sales managers’ efficiencies:

1.Help reduce time spent on collecting and validating information. Sales managers are spending 14.2% of their time, or 5 hours, on reporting of various types – pipeline reports, forecast reviews, and other analysis. Sales operations can help reduce the time spent on collecting the information, as well as time spent on validating it by ensuring data accuracy on ongoing basis.

Sales managers should spend time reviewing reports and analyses to help make decisions, not pulling and analyzing the reports. (Click to tweet) The first step sales operations should take is to find out if there are standard reports that sales managers are using. If you find that there are more customized reports than standard ones, it is an opportunity to drive alignment on what the standard reports should include. When doing this, it’s important to take into account a certain level of flexibility in allowing sales managers to customize the standard reports as needed. Once there is agreement on the standard reports, reports should be made available through systems such as CRM or sales dashboard technologies that integrate with CRM.

For forecast review reports, it’s also important to set up a cadence around when sales teams make updates in CRM, when sales managers review with their teams and when sales managers review with executives. Without a clearly communicated cadence of who is making what updates where, sales managers will end up spending more time updating offline spreadsheets to reflect the latest deal updates than on providing their sales teams with coaching.

2.Facilitate more efficient collaboration among departments. Advocating and selling internally on behalf of sellers and customers should be the responsibility of sales managers. However, if they are spending more than 7 hours of a 40-hour workweek (18.4%), that’s one full day lost to non-coaching-related activity! If we can reduce this to even half (4 hours), sales managers can apply the additional time gained to coaching instead.

Sales operations can help gain the time lost to internal navigation-related activities by facilitating discussions and building stronger relationships with cross-functional teams to streamline and automate processes. (Click to tweet)

For example, building on existing relationships with finance, sales operations can help reduce the amount of time sales managers spend back and forth with finance on discounting and deal structuring approvals by developing standard discount approval processes and matrices, as well as by setting up a deal desk to manage standard deal guidelines and approvals (Note: where deal desk resides under sales operations or finance will vary by organization). Similarly, in close collaboration with legal, sales operations can help define standard contract terms and exception approval process, schedule regular exception review calls, and automate the process with a CRM add-on technology. For fiscal year planning-related engagements with the product teams, sales operations can facilitate discussions between sales management and product teams to drive alignment on quota setting.

Imagine what sales managers could do if they gained back just 4 hours of their week! For one, they could be coaching their teams (as in not just deal reviews, but actually coaching them) to higher performance! So find out how much time your managers are spending on internal navigation and reporting, and get started on getting sales operations support to help them be more efficient!

 

Questions for you:

  • How much time are your sales managers spending on sales coaching?
  • How much time are your sales managers spending on reporting and internal navigation?
  • Do you know how many customized reports sales managers are pulling on their own?
  • Do you have a standard, agreed-upon process for discount approvals and deal reviews? Is it integrated into CRM?

 

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2 Comments
  • Dave Brock
    Posted at 10:07h, 02 July

    Fantastic article Yuri! Clearly, there is a lot of opportunity to help managers become much more efficient in some of the internally focused and administrative functions of their jobs. Sales Operations can play a huge role there.

    But there’s another opportunity that actually provides both greater leverage and impact in coaching and improving performance. We tend to have a mistaken idea that coaching is separate and distinct from everything else managers do. The better idea is to integrate coaching into everything we do. So as we look at areas like prospecting and selling time with people, sales strategy and planning we do with our people; we should be integrating coaching into every aspect of those opportunities.

    For example, as we prepare to go on the call, coaching the sales person on their plans, objectives and how they might conduct the call (at the same time developing the call plan),. After the call, debriefing and coaching on how they might improve.

    It’s powerful to think, with every meeting we have with our sales people, that we have a business/business management objective and a coaching objective.

    Great post!

  • Yuri Dekiba
    Posted at 12:02h, 02 July

    Love your approach David, of incorporating coaching where it makes sense to do so!

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