Why employee coaching is often the missing ingredient in sales success

By Henrik Troselius - October 23, 2017

When we talk about the steps (or Goalplan's ingredients) in the goal setting and sales process that can lead to organizational success, we find that all too often companies feel that they are missing something. Without establishing a set of guidelines or methodology for sales teams to plan and execute, it becomes difficult to see where the pitfalls are, or to place blame on any one thing. But time and time again, one of the biggest mistakes that sales organizations make is not investing time and effort into coaching their staff. Here's why that's a big problem.

The cycle breaks without sales coaching

In most cases, the goal setting, execution, and evaluation process for sales teams is seen as linear. Meaning, a goal is set, effort is made to reach the goal, then the goal is evaluated after to see if it was achieved, or if there were issues along the way. Then the process is complete. But sales organizations should really be thinking about this process as a cycle, where the final step before establishing new goals is coaching staff to avoid repeating mistakes or to improve their skills and tactics.

Let's talk about the four ingredients for sales organization success which are: SMART goal setting, employee acceptance and ownership of the goal, follow up and monitoring of progress, and employee coaching. Of these ingredients that are crucial for creating an effective sales process, coaching tends to be the most challenging for managers and sales leaders. Because of this, it can get skipped over, or underestimated. But think about this: when leaders avoid coaching their staff to improve, it becomes very difficult to raise expectations on staff, continually aim for higher goals, or see increasing improvement over time. Without coaching, the sales goal process doesn't continually work smoothly in a cycle, it breaks down into a repetitive linear process with little opportunity for growth.

How to rebuild your cycle with coaching

Coaching is sometimes seen as the icing on the cake in regards to the four ingredients of sales organization success. This phrase "icing on the cake" typically means "an attractive but inessential addition." But is a cake still a cake without the icing? You need coaching in order to make a complete sales organization, just as you need icing to make a complete cake.

So how can you do this? Streamline your goal cycle by making coaching a natural connection between completing one goal and initiating the next. When the period of time set by your SMART goal is over, use this time to reflect and evaluate. Employees should self-evaluate, and performance reviews should be dialogues between leaders and staff, not a one-sided top-down lecture. In this evaluation, ask employees what they wished they'd known, or tools they wish they had access to that would have made achieving their goal easier, or the process better. Here is where you can glean true insights into coaching opportunities, in order to give your staff the skills, tactics, or strategies so that they can do better next time. Even if your sales associate is a stellar performer, no one in life is ever done learning - there is always room to grow.

Once you've found opportunities for coaching, create a coaching schedule, and devote quality time to it. This can be done individually, or as a team, so that all staff members are benefitting from the lessons to be learned. While coaching is happening, or shortly after, you can set new goals that are based on the topic of coaching.

For example, if you need to coach a staff member on how to better upsell your products or services, make the next goal be a 10% increase in upsells. When you can take the coaching lessons and immediately put them into practice and measure real progress, your team will better retain the information and skills, value the coaching opportunities more, and your goal setting, achieving, and evaluating process will work smoothly, seamlessly and without delays.

We know that sales teams want to see opportunities for growth, and value leaders who can motivate them and manage in a way that truly provides for these opportunities. If you miss the crucial ingredient of coaching in your sales organization success recipe, you're likely to find the sales process doesn't run smoothly. If you're already discovering you're missing something, but don't know what, chances are you will benefit from sales staff coaching.

Want to learn more about Goalplan's four ingredients for sales organizations' goal process? Download our white paper where we go into detail on each ingredient, and why they matter for your success.

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