Time-Shifting Sales Coaching

Marc Miller Sales Training 7 Comments


The biggest non-secret in sales management today is that little field coaching actually happens in complex sales organizations.  What used to be is no more.   New job realities have overburdened and overwhelmed sales managers.  As a result, field coaching rarely gets done due to the constraints of time, distance, and travel.

The good news is that time-shifting solves the field coaching problem.

Time-Shifting means that sales coaching can happen anytime, anywhere – at the convenience of the coach.  Time-Shifting means no travel required to do actual curbside coaching – a huge expense reducer.  And, time-shifting removes the guesswork out of whether a sales call has coachable moments – every time-shifted sales call is pre-sorted for learning opportunities.

Time-Shifting Sales Coaching brings new possibilities to play such as centralized coaching.  With a database of field sales calls to coach to, feedback inconsistencies from line managers can be eliminated.  That means more consistent feedback for new sales hires – feedback that enables quick adjustments that reduce time-to-quota.

Most important, time-shifting coaching is easy to do, cost-effective, and can be implemented rapidly.  No big IT project here.

Here’s how it works.

Field salespeople use a tablet during field sales call conversations, visually referencing messaging & questions while taking notes.  With the permission of the customer, the entire event is audio recorded (in complex sales, acceptance rates are over 90% – they want you to get it right).  After the call, all data is automatically loaded into CRM and uploaded to a central library of sales conversations for review.

Now the coaching begins.

Every week, Sales Managers review “game film” of actual sales calls – field calls already “pre-coded” by salespeople by skills exhibited.  With calls teed up, it’s a quick process for the Manager to hear the highlights only – new messaging, key questions, problems queried, and objections handled.  As the Manager listens to the highlight reel, it’s a fast process of giving direct feedback via annotation.

What’s the impact?

There is nothing more powerful than direct feedback on actual performance to drive behavior change.  This is the finding of CEB (Challenger training) whose important research proved it best – that coaching has a 20% impact on sales productivity.   Without feedback, salespeople starve and die, repeating preventable mistakes.  But with feedback on actual calls, performance soars.

Complex field calls broken down into essential elements (by salespeople themselves) is a rapid way to fill knowledge gaps – no expensive travel required from sales managers.  And, since every new sales conversation expands the sales conversation library, every sales coach easily curates the “best practices” audio vignettes to be used repeatedly as learning objects.

Sales organizations have always relied on blunt force objects to get field coaching done – planes, cars, hotels, and restaurants.  For all that expense, the traditional and exhausting ride-along nets little seller improvement.   Too much pain for too little gain.  As a result, sales managers do little of it, and salespeople predictably languish in transactional mediocrity.

Time-Shifting coaching is not magic.  It requires serious coaches with a genuine desire to make their salespeople better.  But, the excuses have now been removed.  The new coaching tools have arrived, and they just need to be placed in capable hands to drive productivity improvement.  When that happens, they’ll be no going back to the old ways of coaching.

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