Here’s what sales leaders need to focus on to achieve next-level results

Here’s what sales leaders need to focus on to achieve next-level results

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Sales managers are often looking for ways to increase sales quickly – How can we get more sales this quarter? What can we do that will have an impact now? New research provides answers that sales managers can put into practice today.

In a study of more than 1,000 salespeople and sales managers analyzing the skills and behaviors of top-performing salespeople and sales managers – those who are more likely to achieve quota, have higher win rates and maintain premium rates – we identified the areas where top performers significantly differ from the rest .

For starters, the average proposal win rate between the two groups is dramatically different. Top players achieve an average win rate of 72% compared to 47% seen by the rest. As we’ve shared before, small changes in your win rate can lead to big changes in your top line.

Consider the pipeline forecast for the quarter. Even a few percentage point difference in win rate is often the difference between making or exceeding your quota – or falling short.

So, what is one thing you can do to improve your chances of reaching your goal? Look at your sales coaching. Take a closer look at the frequency with which salespeople are coached, the skills of sales managers around coaching and the type of coaching salespeople receive.

Related: Why more sales leaders are focusing on sales coaching

Frequency of sales coaching

Our research found that top-performing salespeople and sales teams are 1.5x more likely to receive coaching on a regular, ongoing schedule. Furthermore, salespeople who are mentored regularly report higher skills across the board – from need discovery to solution design, relationship building, sales promotion, negotiation, prospecting, growing accounts, virtual selling and more.

Sales management and coaching skills

Leaders of top-performing sales teams are more likely to excel in these five areas:

  1. Motivate salespeople for high productivity and performance: Surprisingly, this is not only the best sales management and coaching skill that excels, but it’s also the #1 thing that separates the best from the rest. Motivating sales teams for productivity and performance is an area that has received little attention in the sales world. However, helping salespeople and sales managers be maximally productive is highly correlated with peak performance. The teams with top-performing sales leaders are significantly more likely to score higher on all nine productivity behaviors and skills studied compared to other leaders. They get the most out of it, stay focused, change habits, are less likely to be distracted, manage their time well and maintain their energy.

  2. Helps sellers solve problems and challenges: With regular, ongoing coaching, managers are more likely to uncover salespeople’s challenges and help solve them. Sometimes it’s that simple.

  3. Training salespeople to expand accounts: More on this one below.

  4. Lead valuable one-on-one coaching sessions: Top performing sales leaders are adept at leading successful coaching sessions. They hold these conversations at a regular cadence, and their conversations have greater impact. Imagine having a manager who meets with you on a regular basis or without a regular schedule, and when they do, the coaching is irrelevant and adds little or no value. It is not very motivating (see point 1). Yet this is what happens in most sales organizations.

  5. Training salespeople to build sales skills: 41 percent of top performing sales leaders focus on building salespeople’s skills. Sales managers need to develop sales knowledge, skills and attributes to improve performance in the short and long term. And top-performing salespeople agree: They are 83% more likely to rate their managers as extremely or very effective in helping them achieve good sales results.

Related: How to Build a World-Class Sales Team

Coaching for a range of skills

A lot of coaching focuses on deal coaching – what we can do to accelerate this deal, to win this opportunity, to push a sale forward, etc. While deal coaching is essential and should be done on a regular basis, top performing sales leaders also excel at other important coaching areas:

  • Growing Accounts: Coaching to grow accounts also represents one of the biggest differences between top performers and the rest. According to Gartner, account growth is often a top priority for CEOs and CSOs. Yet the same report notes that most CSOs agree that their current key account strategies and approaches fall short. A key account program that includes regular coaching around account growth and holding sellers accountable for their account growth plans can help.

  • Lead masterful sales calls: Sales are won and lost based on the conversations sellers have with buyers. With ongoing coaching, managers can help drastically improve salespeople’s sales conversation skills.

  • Virtual sales: In the last two years, virtual has become the norm. And going forward, hybrid sales will dominate. The best managers have coached their salespeople, helping them adapt to the virtual environment and overcome the challenges virtual selling presents.

Related: 10 Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Role as a Sales Leader

Top performing sales leaders are more likely to coach their salespeople to success. To increase your sales this quarter (and long term), look no further than the sales guide your salespeople receive. Set a regular, ongoing rhythm of coaching between managers and their sales teams, ensure sales managers are skilled at conducting one-on-one coaching sessions, and ensure they are skilled at coaching across skill areas.

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