Your Sales Managers Need an Inspection and Coaching Rhythm—Here’s Why.

You are attending your weekly forecast meeting to hear your sales managers share the opportunities their teams plan to close by the end of the quarter. After the quarter’s end, you face a major gap between the forecast provided a week ago and the achieved revenue, and you ask yourself: How could this have happened?

A CSO Insights’ 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that nearly 35% of organizations like yours leave it up to the sales managers to decide when and how to coach their reps. The number is down from 47% last year,which means that more companies are appreciating the value of a structured approach to coaching. If you have a random approach, your sales managers end up running their 1:1 coaching meetings and building their forecasts based on their sales reps’ optimism to build their forecast.

That same study found that moving away from a random approach can generate a 28% increase in win rates for forecast deals.

Moving from Random to Structured

Your sales ops teams prepare dashboards for your sales managers to understand their pipeline risk, and perhaps you even train them in how to coach the sales team (which, by the way, only a few companies do). Building this organizational habit requires significant effort, and it’s an uphill battle for your managers to naturally alter their coaching styles and establish a clear cadence they can sustain over time.

Initially, they are enthusiastic about the outcome of the training and the beautiful new dashboards, but how you can ensure they execute the practice on a weekly basis after the honeymoon period? Unless you assign personnel to oversee the administrative effort and keep training them in how to interpret the dashboard, the whole venture will lose steam in under a month.

But imagine you can delegate that critical administrative effort to an extension of your valuable CRM so that your sales managers can effectively lead every conversation with their sales reps. They can focus on asking their reps the right questions to better advise them on their pipeline and coach them on the skills to  that they should develop and refine.

If you take an average sales team of 9 sales reps with a $1 million quota, you have two options:

  1. You chose to run numerous random meetings with your sales reps, with no preparation, and only inspect the most important deals for the closing of the quarter.
  2. You schedule a one-hour meeting every Friday with a structured agenda to review various aspects of the pipeline: past due opportunities, pipeline health, coverage for the next quarter, opportunities you can move forward and other key aspects such as skills development.

If you choose option #1, your sales team will be frustrated by the micromanaging culture driven by purely reactive conversations that chase short-term goals and don’t focus on what is important for the organization. If you choose option #2 and consistently use this cadence week after week, you will see a new habit take shape in your sales organization, giving you more control of your business.

Think about the best 1:1 you had with your manager back when you were a sales rep. How would you describe that meeting? I am sure it was driven by powerful questions from your manager that made you consider alternative ways to advance your opportunities toward the closing stage or to uncover areas of professional development for you. They challenged your current approach and sparked ideas with just a few strategic questions—that is real coaching. Now imagine combining real coaching with a strong sales cadence: sales managers and reps will use their limited time more effectively and have more energy and focus to successfully close more deals and improve their win rates.

In Summary

Set the stage for your sales managers to come to you with accurate forecasts and avoid over- or under-forecasting. Your best bet is to establish weekly 1:1s with a structured agenda that your managers can follow and more readily come up with those important questions. They will understand the root causes of lost opportunities and key levers to win deals. At the same time, your sales managers will be more equipped to gauge the risks associated with the closing of your current quarter. Even better, they will be able to give you an accurate forecast for the next fiscal quarter. Altogether, your sales managers will conceive and executive an effective strategy to set the organization on a stronger growth trajectory.

Michele Lanzara is CoFounder of Convercio

Michele Lanzara is CoFounder of Convercio