Sales managers can take heart in a Sales Management Association study that shows effective sales coaching leads to an increase of up to 23% in rep performance. One would assume with an impact like that, sales managers would commit a significant amount of time to coaching. However, the same study reveals that 76% of sales managers spend too little time coaching. The demands of the job — being constantly pulled into meetings, putting out fires and feeling pressured to meet the short-term quota — make coaching less of a priority.
In addition, some sales managers avoid coaching because they aren’t comfortable doing it. Another concern I hear from managers is that while their sales reps love the idea of professional development, they can’t afford to spend a lot of time away from selling. This is where microcoaching can help.
Microcoaching is short bursts of sales coaching — personalized to the individual’s specific needs — that fill the gaps between one-on-one coaching sessions. The differences between microcoaching and traditional sales coaching are when it occurs and what is covered.
Traditional sales coaching lasts 20 minutes or more, and can take place in one-on-one sessions or during a ride-along to a client meeting. It is often focused on deal coaching or reviewing the rep’s pipeline at the expense of skills building and motivation. Conversely, microcoaching is the delivery of one key lesson and takes just two to five minutes.
In an ideal world, managers and reps find time for traditional coaching on a weekly basis. In reality, only 20% of reps get weekly coaching. SalesFuel’s latest Voice of the Sales Rep research shows that 30% of sales reps would appreciate more coaching. Unfortunately, ATD research shows that 40% of managers do not have time for standalone coaching. This pervasive problem costs organizations money because reps aren’t working as effectively as they could be. And sales organizations suffer when reps (38%) leave voluntarily because they don’t think their company cares about them.
Your sales reps can dramatically improve their performance when they receive microcoaching in between traditional sales coaching sessions. Just like in prospecting, the superpower of an AI-driven microcoaching solution,by SalesFuel for example, is in discovery. The needs assessment part of this sales microcoaching platform is designed to reveal each rep’s strengths and weaknesses. The assessment also goes beyond sales skills. By reporting on a rep’s work style and behavioral tendencies, the assessment gives the managers an in-depth look at the whole person. Managers who have been spending their time deal coaching will realize that approach doesn’t work for every rep.
For example, when an assessment indicates a rep tends to jump into action before thinking about the end result, the manager can foresee the resulting difficulties in a sales situation. This decision-making style could lead to a poor outcome when the rep tries to quickly lead a prospect deeper into the sales funnel.
Armed with this personalized assessment information, managers can engage in adaptive coaching. In the case of decision-making, managers should ask the rep to think through two steps they should take before reaching out to the prospect. Over time, reps will learn how to change to their behavior to effectively close more deals.
While sales strategy discussions are better suited for one-on-one sessions, sales tactics can effectively be addressed through microcoaching. Short, hyper-focused email and text message feeds can help your reps learn something about themselves or selling in each 2- to 5-minute session. For example, reps can get a Slack message with tips on improving weaknesses in their sales skills, soft skills or, most importantly, their sales mindset. Additional feeds address “Account-Based Coaching” — deal coaching for landing B2B prospects or saving existing accounts. The message is reinforced when the rep responds to a poll or a question or engages in a quick game after reviewing the content. Having the rep respond in this way improves upon one of the big weaknesses in traditional coaching:
The manager does too much talking.
Traditional sales coaching doesn’t benefit every rep. We’ve found that the longer a rep is on the job, the less likely they are to rely on a manager for coaching. And because some sales managers use a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching; only 25% of reps believe this effort improves their win rates. However, microcoaching may help these veteran reps. When they receive an email or a text message that contains survey data or proof about effective sales tactics, they are more likely to pay attention. While they may be quick to tune out their managers, they’re likely to reflect on tips from other sales professionals.
During a traditional sales coaching session, plenty of information and advice flows from managers to sales reps.
How much of that information do reps retain? Not enough. One benefit of microcoaching is cadence. When reps receive a text or email message on a regular basis, they can draw on what they’ve learned in previous sessions. The repetition will encourage them to modify their go-to behaviors.
A Boost for All Reps
The bottom line is that microcoaching helps sales managers develop the middle 60% of reps. With the help of frequent microcoaching feeds, reps learn how to develop their skills and maintain awareness of the mindset needed for selling to the toughest prospects.
Managers who use microcoaching don’t need to find more hours in the day. They and their reps will benefit from using microcoaching to supplement the coaching they’re already providing.