The real cost of weak sales coaching - and how to avoid it

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Creating the right field sales team is the biggest and most important factor in terms of the success of your sales organization. 

If you have a few weak performers in your team, you know how hard it can be to turn their performance around, if you don’t have the right set-up to support you. 

A weak sales rep comes down to one of two things: either poor inherent attitude/aptitude or poor sales coaching. The former we can’t really help with, but great sales coaching can help turn weak performers around by supporting them with what they need, when they need it. 

Do you need to upgrade your sales coaching, are you finding it tough to implement sales coaching across the board? Wondering what’s the point of having a sales coaching solution at all? This article is for you.

Here, we will address the scenario of having an average sales performer who just needs a bit of help, push in the right direction, with the right knowledge at the right time. How can we do this in a way that helps both the business goals and the rep? 

But first, what is the cost of not doing this? 

 

The cost and impact of a weak sales performer 

Sometimes it’s better not to know (as with a lot of things in life). Calculating the cost of a bad hire or weak sales rep will hurt. So much. 

Doing the math on costs surrounding: recruitment, annual salary, onboarding, equipment, benefits, and expenses - it all adds up. The sum of all of these costs are your annualized costs of replacing a weak sales performer. 

Then, looking at loss of productivity costs, this is where it gets very expensive. The calculation here is to add up what we expected versus what we got, that is: 

Quota attained – (minus) Quota Expected.  

In dollars this might look like: we expected $2M from the bad rep, and got $250K, our loss of productivity is $1,750K.

Now, as mentioned, if we just had a bad hire, who we don’t see any potential for improving any time soon - it’s probably better to bite the bullet and cut them off before they do any more damage. Sad, but true. As ruthless as it sounds, the reality is that a weak rep takes up the space that could have been filled by a higher performer. 

Why? Your nightmare scenario is that you have good leads going through to a weak sales performer. The leads are simply wasted, and may even be driven out of the funnel entirely. Those leads may even have a bad experience with us, and that’s it. We all know how hard it is to find good, qualified MQLs and SQLs these days. 

In addition, consider the negative effect on other team members when supporting a weak performer. Usually there are team goals and quotas to uphold. And, let’s face it: low performers mean lower morale. A-players usually have low tolerance for weak reps and will sometimes even leave the company if they see good leads handed to low performers. 

But - if you have real potential in your team; average reps who just need the right attention and knowledge, good reps with the right attitude who just need to up-skill and learn about the newest products and sales engagement and interaction methods - you need some solid sales coaching to get them to cross the finish line. You reach your sales coaching goal with a mutual (between coach and coached) agreed action plan, which is owned by the coachee.

 

The impact of poor sales coaching 

Not only weak reps, but also weak sales coaching can massively lower morale in a company. This can lead to people leaving, causing higher expenses for onboarding and training, which, if we have a high staff turn-over, is a repetitive and costly cycle. As sales leaders know, it can take several months of training for a sales rep to become productive. 

The answer then, is solid sales training and coaching, delivered just in time and providing the right type of coaching. Good sales coaching helps reps boost their confidence to apply best practices, gives them the right knowledge to be more credible and shows them how they can personalize their sales/engagement approach in the right way for different types of customers - based on data. 

 

Up-skill your team with the best sales coaching 

It’s just not enough to have an old-school way of selling these days. Even though we tend to romanticize the “good ol’ days” of only face-to-face meetings and long client lunches, it's not as effective anymore. 

Today, sales enablement focuses on providing sellers (or other other customer facing functions) with the right resources, content, processes, and tools needed to be successful. As we know, post-pandemic and all, we must embrace virtual selling in order to connect with decision makers today.

As most sales meetings are virtual today, we need a new set of skills to be great in this environment. It’s more challenging to maintain buyers’ attention, establish trust, and communicate value. Thus, sales organizations need to create training and coaching that equips sellers with virtual selling best practices and skills to overcome these new challenges. 

Reps also need to sell in a personalized way, to connect better with buyers and deliver highly relevant content at the right time in the buyer’s cycle. If you are a part of a large organization, it means leveraging a sales enablement a.k.a revenue enablement solution that lets sellers easily personalize content at scale, also interactively. 

As we exist in the era of virtual selling, the constantly changing buyer behavior means that new sales enablement tools are fundamental for sellers - it's not a choice or a “nice to have” anymore. A one-platform sales enablement approach includes everything from CRM and content automation to training and coaching, and are smoothly integrated with your current tech stack. And they impact the positive revenue growth of your company immensely. 

 

How top sales coaching and onboarding works today 

Sales coaching within a sales/revenue enablement solution is available for existing team members and also when onboarding new ones. You may have found that gathering a large, varied salesforce in the same room for onboarding is inefficient and difficult to scale. 

Not only that, the time it takes to plan and implement traditional training and coaching programs is huge and can lead to what is known as knowledge waste, if the insights and learning isn’t directly applied to the job. 

Sales organizations need to move to a strategic, intuitive and data-based sales coaching tool that is integrated into your sales/revenue enablement solution, such as Pitcher.

Why? The integration is crucial - so that you can track rep performance, learnings, training needs and useful data and it is all collated within your sales enablement tool. Sales training and coaching software makes it easy to deliver onboarding in a more repeatable and scalable way that is suitable for your business needs. 

 

5 benefits of integrated coaching platforms 

The benefits for these types of platforms are huge, Some of them are: 

 

1. Coach and onboard any time, anywhere

Thanks to it all being integrated into your sales enablement tool = online, sales coaching and onboarding can help you deliver coaching anywhere and any time, meaning reps can use their time more effectively. They can revisit lessons or individual programs as needed, and don’t have to wait for a live coach or a scheduled training session. This means that reps can learn at their own pace and fit training into their busy day.

You can vary the training modules to take many different formats, including videos, articles, and quizzes. Since it’s all embedded into your enablement solution, it will track and measure progress over time.

For large companies, sales training and coaching solutions make onboarding new reps much easier and quicker than ever before. When you take expensive travel and scheduling live events out of the equation - you’re saving a bunch of money. Not only that, as you’re employing a sales training platform, you ensure that all your reps get the same high-quality training content.

 

2. Coach when/where needed

It’s easy for reps to find their coaching content based on a specific scenario or sales stage on their own. They don’t have to rely on an instructor or peer to guide them through it. Coaching sessions are launched when needed, just-in-time, which is more effective than traditional training. It provides reps with relevant information within the exact context when they need it.

This approach also scales with the company, and the offered products and services. The business can quickly update content with new product information and according to any changes in the sales process. Thus, reps always have access to the latest information.

 

3. Deliver a more personalized approach for customers  

Providing better coaching within your sales enablement solution, which also focuses on consultative and guided selling, can help sellers understand what content to provide to customers and when, track previous data to understand what has worked and what has not, for similar types of customers. 

 

4. Engaging coaching that reps remember

If you use a sales training platform, it makes it much easier for coaches to create engaging, relevant coaching by using different formats including videos, written tutorials, quizzes and practice scenarios. When offering lots of different types of formats, you can accommodate different learning styles, thus delivering engaging content for all participants. 

 

5. Provide feedback and continuous learning 

Sales enablement software facilitates leaders to deliver feedback and coaching regularly as well as an easy way to identify and share best practices. Since learning, training and performance is always being tracked within the same software,  analytics help leaders track progress and identify areas for improvement. 

It’s crucial to give feedback to your reps for them to know what they’re doing well and where they need to improve. A software can help deliver much needed feedback, even when you don't have enough time. It will make this process easier by providing tools and templates that make it quick and easy to deliver feedback.

Also - teach your reps to ask. Often, reps think they can just assume what a customer wants, but that is why discovery calls are so important. All of this and more needs to be baked into your sales engagement solution. But wait, that's not all. It also needs to be based on previous learnings, and to intuitively be able to anticipate the customer’s next move and needs. And this is where a machine learning driven tool is invaluable. 

 

Why software for learning is a perfect solution

Since sellers are mostly all operating in a virtual world these days, it makes sense to also deliver their sales coaching virtually. Don't worry, you can still make it engaging and fun. 

The crucial bit is to have coaching software that is integrated into your sales enablement software, so that your organization will have a more holistic view of every part of your sales enablement program. 

No more boring and lengthy sales training modules and dealing with the inefficiency of poor sales coaching. Instead, get your reps clued up and ready for success with the right sales coaching strategy that uses conversation intelligence software. Of course, it’s not enough to rely on the software - there is a human factor involved as well. Sales leaders need to hold reps and managers accountable and equip them with proven strategies to drive long-lasting change and improve sales performance over time.

See some of our previous blogs on coaching here and here. 

To learn more about how sales training and coaching tools can accelerate the sales cycle, get in touch.