Sales Manager Coaching Effectiveness - A Lottery For Reps?

Good coaching is the one of the most-important factors in the development of salespeople. Unfortunately, our Benchmark data shows coaching in sales remains low: 35% of salespeople receive zero coaching and only 46% receive coaching consistently. Whilst enhancing the provision of coaching to reps is clearly an opportunity – what do reps think about the effectiveness of the coaching which they are receiving?

Looking across our benchmarking data, whilst there are some great coaches out there, the overall picture is concerning. When assessed by reps - only one-in-ten managers average ‘highly effective’, more than a quarter are scored ‘highly ineffective’. In short, the average manager is not seen as a good coach. Given only 2/3 of reps are receiving coaching and of this around 3/4 receive only 1 hour or less per week – the fact that the effectiveness of this coaching is also highly variable carries enormous ramifications for rep performance.

If we walked into a typical sales business and selected a handful of salespeople at random, the chances of them receiving coaching or agreeing it was effective (let alone both) would be low – a proverbial coaching lottery for reps.

The Coaching Effectiveness Lottery

Why Is Coaching Effectiveness So Variable?

The problem stems from how complicated sales management has become. The typical sales manager remains responsible for growing revenue and hitting the number, but they’ve been lumped with a range of other management and administrative tasks. This increased workload and role diffusion has made it incredibly hard to find the capacity to coach salespeople effectively.

The second problem has been a lack of awareness about the skills it takes to be a good coach. Too often businesses have presumed good salespeople, once promoted, will evolve into good sales managers and good sales coaches. Whilst selling skills and role modelling are important characteristic of good coaches, many of the most-important coaching behaviours are in fact distinct from the behaviours of a high-performing salesperson.

Whilst we observe many organisations addressing the coaching skills problem, results can only be achieved by also addressing the broader issue of capacity – a holistic approach is required to enable sales managers to dedicate more time to coaching.

Individualisation – A Pathway to Enhanced Coaching Effectiveness

So what makes a great sales coach, and how can we empower managers to find more time for coaching? The answer lies in how a manager practices standardised management of their team, freeing up capacity for time-intensive individualised coaching.

Benchmark data shows the biggest contributor to coaching effectiveness is the level of individualisation. Salespeople who agree their manager asks questions about their individual sales problems; gives specific feedback about individual performance; adapts their delivery to suit their individual preferences and learning style; and sets individualised development goals post each coaching session, are much-more likely to agree their overall coaching is effective.

Connection Between Individualisation & Coaching Effectiveness

In addition to the above correlation with rep ratings of effectiveness, individualisation is also associated with performance. The below graph compares high-performing and lower-performing reps based on quota achievement over the past 12 months, showing how strongly each group agree that their manager exhibits individualised coaching behaviours. Significantly, higher-performing reps are more likely to agree that their manager individualises coaching relative to lower-performing reps, demonstrating the substantial impact individualistion has on sustaining performance.

Relationship Between Individualisation & Performance

We believe the data reflects the payoff of personalised development: coaches who provide more individualised coaching are able to spot gaps earlier, work on people’s specific needs, as well as build rep capability more quickly - all of which contributes to setting up salespeople for long-term performance.

Solving The Coaching Effectiveness Lottery: Setting Up Managers To Individualise

While the evidence shows the profound payoff created by an individualised approach to coaching, the difficulty lies in creating the capacity and capability for managers to achieve this. We believe the solution is empowering managers to standardise sales management as much as possible. This enables them to cut through the complexity, bring order to their busy world and dedicate the requisite time for high-impact, personalised coaching.

For greater detail on how to achieve this, be sure to check out our whitepaper Unlocking Sales Manager Coaching Impact.

Or understand how Blackdot’s solutions help your sales organisation achieve an immediate uplift in frontline sales capability and performance