Sales training and enablement professionals who effectively build an internal sales coaching capability help sales reps overcome complexity and sell more successfully. According to the sales enablement professionals we interviewed, building an internal sales coaching capability has two major components: strategic architecture and effective enablement.
The strategic architecture is built from thoughtful design, implementation, and reinforcement of sales coaching initiatives. Effective enablement comes from using sales coaching conversations as the design point while making sure coaches have the right content, skills, and tools to do tailor those conversations.
Unfortunately, most of the sales coaching programs we see lack the tools and methods to do just that.
So what is an enterprising sales training or sales enablement professional to do?
Join me for a Forrester workshop on sales coaching
To understand the state of sales coaching today, Forrester interviewed sales enablement professionals at 35 technology vendors. They universally agreed that achieving the goals of the sales leadership team, including selling at higher levels, often requires a change in salesperson behavior. This workshop provides sales enablement professionals the strategies and tools needed to create effective sales coaching programs at their companies to more effectively support their sales initiatives in the field.
Many sales enablement professionals we talked to have looked to sales coaching as a key enabler to salesperson success. So we built the workshop to
Help you plan a more effective sales coaching program
Provide a methodology for prioritizing, facilitating, and continuously improving individual sales coaching conversations
Why does sales coaching continue to be an important sales enablement trend? Perhaps it's because salespeople learn new skills through mutually beneficial relationships with individual coaches. If you think about it, sales coaches can come from many parts of the organization and include sales managers, sales trainers, sales engineers, and in some cases from product marketers. When sales enablement professionals effectively support tailored sales coaching conversations between coaches and reps, salespeople learn faster, converse more confidently with their customers, and achieve specific sales objectives, like gaining access to the right buyers or building a winning business case.
If you think about it, the role of a sales coach is challenging. Sales coaches must process many different content inputs from across the organization, package those inputs (in their head), and then deliver content through an effective sales coaching conversation to one salesperson at a time. And, sales coaches must make sure they treat everyone uniquely, so they maximize their sales coaching impact. Sales Enablement professionals need a strategy, a methodology, and tools to effectively enable their sales coaches to implement and sustain high-quality coaching conversations that help salespeople achieve sales objectives.
In order to make sales coaching successful, Sales Enablement pros need a clear definition. The definition should drive specific sales coaching behavior while at the same time clearly defining the business reason why sales coaching is important. The definition should serve as a clear design point for sales coaching success.
Over the past several months, I’ve had conversations with a lot of technology vendors about "overcoming sales training challenges." While all of the people I talked to fall into the Sales Enablement function, (meaning they come from product groups, marketing groups, and sales groups and are working to support the conversations that salespeople have) only 2 of those people were actually from within the sales training function at their company. In other words, there seems to be a lot of concern about sales training and a lot of work going on in the name of sales training but the discussion is happening outside the sales training group!
This finding led me to ask, "Is sales training strategic or tactical?" over on LinkedIn [check out some of the answers]. Taking a step back and looking through those answers in light of the conversations I've been having, I found an interesting pattern emerging.
Most of the people involved in sales training initiatives have a specific view on the role, scope, and value of sales training. This view biases the ways these people approach solving these sales training challenges or leverage training for solving the sales challenges their organizations face. At a macro level, these differing views, or paradigms, can be broken down into two camps which are often in direct conflict with one another. These competing mindsets can end up pulling in opposite directions, creating a sales training stalemate with noting really being solved and lots of money being wasted.
Here are a few examples of these different, often competing views: