Why Effective Coaching Requires A Coaching Framework

In sports, athletes and teams often have access to multiple coaches with various specialties to help them reach their full potential. In football (soccer) for example, there are coaches for gatekeepers, defenders and center forwards, additional coaches to develop endurance and overall agility, and special coaches for a club’s players’ different maturity levels.

In business, it’s different. Managing the team is still seen as more important than coaching the team. If we are serious about the term “managing,” we have to admit that we can manage a process, and we can manage activities, but we cannot really “manage” people. It can be a challenge just to “manage” yourself sometimes. People must be led to express their full potential, and that’s called coaching. According to our research data, effective coaching leads to measurable sales performance improvements in key metrics such as win rates and quota attainment.

Coaching: what it is and what it isn’t

Sales coaching is a leadership skill to develop each person’s full potential. Sales managers use their domain expertise, along with social, communication, and questioning skills, to facilitate conversations with their team members that allow them to discover areas for improvement and possibilities, to break through to new levels of success. And here is what it is not: Coaching isn’t just reviewing opportunities based on questions like, “What’s your forecast this month?” or, “You need to build more pipeline.”

Instead, coaching has to cover all main sales areas. Coaching has to be established not only for leads and opportunities, but also for skills and behaviors (especially in times of sales transformation) and funnels or pipelines. Depending on the organization’s sales model, account and territory coaching may also be necessary.

Coaching has to be formalized to drive sales performance: the case for a coaching framework

Not only do these different coaching areas require some orchestration based on a common foundation, but two other vital truths make a coaching framework necessary. First, in all organizations, frontline sales managers (FSMs) have the greatest impact on sales performance, execution and sales force transformation. Second, coaching, as defined above, is the most important leadership skill for frontline sales managers in terms of unleashing a salesperson’s full potential in a measurable way.

Not just any coaching development program will do. In our CSO Insights 2015 Sales Management Optimization Study, we looked at the impact of a formal versus an informal coaching process on win rates for forecasted deals. A discretionary or informal coaching process did not have any significant impact, but a formal coaching process improved win rates from 46% up to 54%. Just calculate this impact of a nine percent better win rate for your organization. The business impact cannot be ignored.

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So, coaching has to be formalized to be effective. And this requires a framework that defines all these coaching areas, based on an organization’s sales system, processes, and methodologies.

Stay tuned: next time we will discuss how to design a coaching framework and how to connect the dots across the different coaching areas.

Questions for you:

Which coaching areas are covered in your coaching approach?

How do you formalize coaching on your organization?

How do you develop sales managers to sales coaches?

Related blog posts:

How World-Class Frontline Sales Managers Coach Differently To Drive Performance

Frontline Sales Managers: Capabilities for the Required Maturity Level

Frontline Sales Managers: How to Get to the Recommended Maturity

Are Your Frontline Sales Managers World Champions?

Frontline Sales Manager’s Mantra: Managing Activities and Coaching Behaviors

How the Frontline Sales Manager’s Mantra Drives Sales Effectiveness and Productivity

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