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Data-Driven Sales Coaching: How to use historical data to drive better sales conversations?

8 minutes read

It’s not a surprising fact that the companies that provide quality coaching are capable of reaching 7% greater annual revenue growth. As a sales manager, you must be aware that effective sales coaching is the key to maximizing your team’s potential.

But the problem is that for too long, sales managers have relied on a one-size-fits-all coaching playbook and hoped for the best. With sellers entering more competitive markets now, it’s time for you to hit the reset button.

In today’s day and age, taking a data-driven approach to sales coaching is vital. This means that you can use metrics to help improve your sales coaching conversations.

We use data to personalize the buying experience, so why not apply it to coaching? Performance data provides you with concrete facts by which you can identify improvement areas and personalize your coaching efforts.

In this blog, we are going to discuss,

  • The benefits of adopting a data-driven coaching
  • And the metrics that you should measure in order to extract data that will help in coaching

5 ways in which a data-driven approach improves sales coaching

1. Data makes finding areas of improvement easier

You must be familiar with the Magic Eye images. To see the picture, the viewer needs to stare at the image long enough (preferably without getting a headache) for the picture to reveal itself. Finding coaching opportunities can sometimes feel like staring at a Magic Eye image. Only when sales leaders look closely at the performance data of each individual in their team, they will be able to identify,

  • The areas which require the most attention
  • And create personalized coaching programs accordingly

This helps greatly in making the best use of both the manager’s and rep’s time. No one wants to sit through training in an area that isn’t a weakness. Coaching is only beneficial if it is relevant and positively impacts an individual’s performance.

2. Data provides historical context

Having a historical context of a subject

  • Helps in understanding the bigger picture
  • And helps put events and behaviors into perspective

So, you must use data to look at performance over an extended period and identify if an issue is a regular occurrence or a one-time event.

For example, in an sales rep’s performance records, if you notice a pattern of meetings resulting in no-shows then you’ll know that this is an area that requires your attention. You can then provide training to that individual on the importance of sending reminder emails and confirming appointment times with the customer. If the no-show is just a one-time event, then you can focus on other coaching priorities.

3. Data provides visibility into activities

Data gives you insights into which tasks each one of your rep is spending the most time on. This enables you to redirect their focus if necessary. When you analyze the time spent on small activities, it all adds up.

The amount of time a rep spends talking during a sales call influences results. Top sales performers listen to their prospects more (with a 46:54 talk-to-listen-ratio). As a sales manager, you can utilize conversation intelligence data to analyze the amount of time a rep spends talking and provide coaching on active listening.

Pro Tip: Making performance data available to reps is equally important. People are visual by nature, and the ability to track and monitor their personal metrics can be a strong motivator to improve performance. It also allows a rep to track their progress and know where they stand

4. Data helps facilitate timely coaching

You need to hit the iron when it is hot and the same applies to coaching. Timing is everything in sales coaching. Once the moment is passed, your coaching might not be as impactful as it could have been. So, you need to rely on real-time data to get visibility into coaching opportunities as and when they arise. And facilitate coaching immediately.

For example, if you notice that one of your reps recently made a high volume of phone calls without leaving a voicemail or following up with an email, you can correct this issue before it develops into a bad habit. Seeing the data in real-time means that you don’t have to wait until the next 1:1 to address a behavior. You can instantly analyze a sales conversation and understand if a rep is clearly stating the next steps or not.

The lack of real-time data can make it very difficult for you to reinforce important lessons from time to time to your reps. And regular reinforcement is absolutely critical, especially when Sales Performance International warns that employees forget approximately 50% of training within five weeks. Therefore real-time data is the key to providing timely coaching.

5. Data helps maintain objectivity

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Using data to coach allows you to remain objective when addressing improvement areas. A sales rep might take feedback personally, as a critique of his or her personality. But by using data you can provide proof about how a behavior is impacting their performance. It’s easier to prove a point when there are facts and figures to support your claim.

What metrics can you use to extract data for data-driven coaching?

To adopt a data-driven coaching approach, you must start by clearly understanding the key metrics that you should track. The metrics that you track should help you to gauge the overall success of your sales force. They should also allow you to dig into the individual performances to fuel more impactful coaching conversations.

Below we’ve highlighted some key criteria that you should evaluate in order to gather crucial data that helps your coaching.

Product knowledge: Assess and certify sellers on their product knowledge by conducting quizzes of different formats like,

  • Multiple choice quizzes
  • Checklists
  • And written tests

You can set a proficiency threshold score in the quiz to measure your reps’ knowledge of your products.

Reps can also be assigned role-plays to see if they can demo the product, describe what it does and accurately express the value of the product. If you’re using sales readiness technology (like SmartWinnr), all of this can be easily reviewed and scored through artificial intelligence (AI).

Selling Behavior: Evaluate how articulate and enthusiastic a rep is on a call, voicemail, or presentation. Evaluate their tone and the pitch of their voice as well. You can also keep track of the number of filler words that they use. This will help you gauge their overall confidence in selling your solution.

Selling Skills: Evaluate your sellers selling skills by keeping a track of their sales conversations. This will get you data on each rep’s

  • Ability to demo
  • Their usage of sales methodology (e.g. MEDDPIC) on a call
  • Their way of challenging competition
  • Their way of handling objections
  • And if their message is correct or not

Real-time data from conversation intelligence gives visibility into how to move deals forward.

Message consistency: To evaluate your reps’ message consistency, you need to analyze their sales calls. While analyzing these calls, you need to see, If your reps are using the right keywords at the right time If they are able to efficiently answer the questions that they get asked And if they are able to efficiently push closing of the deal

Pro Tip: One best way to analyze sales calls is to use AI-powered keyword analysis. This helps you to get quick and better insights into individual competencies and needs based on live interactions during the selling process.

This way when you analyze the consistency of messaging of your reps in their sales calls, you can immediately identify their shortcomings and provide coaching to cover knowledge or skill gaps.

Technology Skills: How well do your reps use sales tools? Assess sellers on their knowledge (and correct use) of sales stack tools like Outreach, Ring, Zoom, and Salesforce to see how effectively they’re being put into action.

Pro Tip: By using screen recording tools, your reps can actually record themselves using the tools, which can then be evaluated and scored. This will give you visibility into any challenges or inefficiencies amongst your team members.

Competitive Knowledge: Gauge how well your sellers understand the competition by rolling out quick updates followed by quizzes that test their knowledge on your competitors in the market.

Sales Process: Evaluate how well your sales team understands your organization’s sales process. You need to see if your reps know what they are expected to do at each stage.

With a sales readiness platform, you can have this information available as an on-demand resource for your reps. You can then use virtual role-plays to further evaluate and improve your team’s understanding of your sales process.

A word of caution

With so much being said about the usage of data in coaching, it is important to ensure that you don’t drown in too much data. Data certainly provides insight into performance patterns and behaviors, but it doesn’t paint the complete picture. You should use data as a coaching tool, but should not rely entirely on it.

Think of data as a guide that compliments your coaching process. Data helps you to identify patterns, reinforce training, and identify areas that need the most improvement. But relying solely on data, takes the person out of the equation and treats the rep as just another metric. So make sure that you use your human observation and intuition as well to make better coaching decisions

Want to create an impactful coaching culture at your organization?

Read: Creating a Sales Coaching Culture with Impact

Want to know how to strike the right balance between your role as a coach and your role as a manager for your team?

Coach or Manager? What does your team want?

Check out this template which helps the sales managers to carry out employee coaching efficiently

Sales Coaching Template for Managers

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Delivering Innovative coaching programs in 2021

Learn how to coach your sales reps into sales champions

How to coach your salespeople into sales champions

Published on Sat Oct 9 2021

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