Sales Coaching - 4 Proven Strategies
by Rob Jeppsen
This session will introduce attendees to actionable tactics to become world-class sales coaches. The impact of sales coaching drives every sales metric from quota attainment to intent for a rep to stay with their company. Unfortunately, when salespeople rate the performance of their leader, the skill they most often score as “underperform” in is in coaching. In this session, the 4 laws of World-Class coaching will be introduced with emphasis on how to include social selling to the coaching plans and execution. Attendees will learn how to create leading indicators that predict future performance and how coaching can drive a 4X improvement to sales performance and execution. Participants will be introduced to award-winning tools that have helped average managers become world-class coaches and drive record-setting tools in a number of industries and with organizations of all sizes. Coaching drives culture…learn how to have coaching become your most defensible competitive advantage and join Rob Jeppsen in this entertaining and informative session.
Hi, my name is Rob Jeppsen, and welcome to the Social Selling Summit. I'm excited to talk to you about what I think is one of the most important topics we can talk about as sales leaders, and that's coaching. I believe coaching is a catalyst for greatness in any sales pursuit. But today what we're going to talk about is how you can kill it with sales coaching and include social into what you do. And to introduce myself, I just want to give you just a real quick second on what I am about. I'm a one-trick pony. I'm about sales. I often say that "if it doesn't move the needle, I find it interesting but worthless." And I've worked with companies of all shapes and sizes: big one, small ones, publicly traded ones, entrepreneurial ones that are just getting going.
I've helped several get started and get across the finish line. And most recently, I ran a really large organization in financial services, where I was responsible for $3 billion worth of sales. I've done it as a person working at the organization. I've done it as a consultant. I contribute to university curriculum. I speak about 100 days a year, and it's, frankly, my favorite topic of all topics. Most recently, I've won 15 Stevie Awards from the American Business Awards. I currently hold the Gold Stevie Award for Sales Coach of the Year and Sales Director of the Year. I tell you this because it really is the one thing that I know something about, and I'm really excited to share some things with you today.
I want to start with this picture. I love this picture. This is a picture from the 1928 World Series. The person on his back is the home plate umpire. The person on top is a fan in the stands that's not happy. He's arguing about balls and strikes. Now, back in the day, this was clearly an acceptable way to express how you felt. The reason I know, is I just look at the security guards. What are they doing? They're standing around taking bets. This must be a home game and these officials are in agreement with the gentleman who's on top. Today, this person wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the home plate umpire. He had been tackled and would have been a highlight on ESPN on how this fan was taken down and taken out.
Unfortunately, some of us try to still talk to our sales reps this way. We try and dictate terms and tell them how things are going to go. And sales reps today are in a lot different situation. They're not going to do what we demand that they do. We have to have a different way of coaching so we can get them to want to do the things that will ultimately help them win.
So today we're going to talk about how you can do that. I'm going to give you some tools today that you can leave and immediately start using tomorrow. These are laws that are difference making tactics that absolutely will help you move the sales needle. These are what I call four non-negotiables. And if you choose to use them, you can make how you sell as much a competitive advantage as what you sell. You will also find that your approach to coaching could be quite possibly your most defensible competitive advantage. So you're ready? Let's get rolling.
Law number 1: great coaches have learned that they have to model awesomeness. Inside your organization, you should stop right now and say, "What does awesome look like?" I call this the Law of Insight. Now, I have a real simple approach to sales leadership. We engage in activities that do or do not turn into pipeline opportunities, which do or do not turn into sales opportunities. When I got to an organization, pretty much every organization very quickly can tell me what their sales are. That's not a real hard metric for people to gather.
Eighty percent or more are equally adept to getting me what their pipeline information is. However, when I ask for the information on what are the activities that matter, how many do we need to do, and what are their effectiveness, I usually get a lot of blank stares. Your ability to get to the activity level and understand the impact it ultimately has on creating pipeline and revenue is going to be a really important way for you to start driving the needle as a sales coach. This is even more important when you start to consider how that works in social selling.
At the end of the day, we have to do the right activities with the right people the right number of times. And the only way you can pull that off is if you chose to measure everything you can. Here's one of the things I've learned, and I'm confident that this is a universal truth. The world's greatest sales organizations and the world's greatest sales people run two measurements. They literally try to measure everything. Average sales organizations to poor sales organization, they run from measurements. They go off things like gut and emotion.
If you want to be world class, you've got to be willing to measure everything you can. The reason people don't like to do that, is they think metrics are only about accountability. Now, accountability is a word that people like until it's applied to them. I'm not here to talk about how you use metrics in terms of accountability. What I want to talk to you about, is how we use metrics to turn the lights on with our sales reps. I believe metrics are about insight, and insight is the doorway to improvement. And the only way you can do that, is if you're measuring things.
One of the key reasons this matters so much is because I'm a firm believer that success leaves clues. And as a sales leader, you should ask yourself, "How good am I at finding those clues?" Can you find the clues of what will make the sales needle move in your organization? Because you can't model awesomeness unless you can find those clues. Now, the first place that sales organizations generally want to start in the world of modeling awesomeness, is they model activity data that are traditional sales things. Here's a way that I've done it. This is one of my sales tools. It looks nasty when you look at it, but when you understand what's there, it's really easy. In these circled areas, I can model things like sales calls, opportunity starts, deals that are won and for how much. Now, I can also model things like sales velocity, how long does something take to do and how long will it be stuck in the stage.
These are really important things for us to model, and here's why. I can model wins inside any organization. I don't care how sophisticated or simple a product is, there's generally a tempo to a deal. Even the most complex, lengthy sales cycles have tempos in between stages and for a wholesale cycle. You can model two or three ways to win it, but if it gets outside of that, it most likely is going to look like a loss.
So I'm going to encourage you to use regular sales data like this to model awesomeness. But what I really hope you'll do is take it up a notch and say, "What are the social activities that I can model awesomeness with?" We absolutely need to model awesomeness in social selling. I believe we can do it in three categories. Category one is the activities. How many social connections? How many social shares? What are the social messages that are resonating? Are we getting endorsements or starting social conversations?
We can use these in every single stage, from prospecting, to pursuit, to closing. Absolutely. We need to make sure that as leaders, we have connected the dots between the social activities and the pipeline and prospect movement results. We're going to talk a little bit more about that later in the presentation. But you need to start building score cards and setting expectations for your team around what are the social activities. Social selling no longer should be an optional activity for a sales organization in today's world. I firmly believe that we cannot be a comapany that has social strategy. We must be social companies. And to do that, we must have social objectives, and we've got to model what awesome looks like.
The second area is the influence. After we have activities, then we're going to start creating influence. Easy to measure this too. How many introductions or referrals are we getting? Are we getting intra-network shares? Not just shares within our own network, but are we bridging the gap and jumping into networks that we've never had before because of the influence we have? Inside enterprises are target prospects. What kind of influence do we have there? At HireVue, where I work, we've set a target that we want to have no less than six points of influence inside a prospect company.
Finally, are we seen as thought leaders for industry issues? Look at the industries that you service, and make sure that you're taking the steps to be seen as someone that can be a thought leader, someone that brings information that's valuable, information that's recognized, information that's shared inside your targets. Finally, social needs to be measured in terms of effectiveness. HireVue, we use the three by three in something for every prospect. And by that, we have to have three areas that we can connect with a customer in three minutes or less. That's one of our non-negotiables in our sales process.
We also have everybody's LinkedIn score. For example, at HireVue, our average sales team member scores 77. The industry average for sales people is 29. We use that as a benchmark to make sure that we're creating competitive advantage against the people that we're selling against. Sales velocity is another area that we can measure sales effectiveness and social selling. We found that the social activities and influence are leading indicators for outcomes like how long it takes to move. Finally, we look at conversion rates at each stage. When we see things getting stalled, one of the first things we look at is, "Are we having enough social activities," or "Are we having enough social influence for us to move the needle in both a sustainable and predictable way?"
There's a lot of ways you can model awesomeness. We've talked about data. We've talked about other things, but the most important way is for you to look in the mirror. And you as a leader need to ask yourself, are you the model of awesomeness in social selling in your company? That's a really important question. We can't be the kind of leader that says "Do as I say, not as I do." We have to lead through example. We have to be ones that are always looking for the right ways of having influence, activities, and effectiveness. That's Law 1.
Law 2: we have to be able to separate process from outcomes. If Law 1 is about making sure that we're modeling what's awesome, Law 2 is about making sure that we're not getting caught up with just the outcomes at the end of the road. I call this the Law of Process. This is a mistake that sales leaders make many, many times. And to illustrate it, I want you to ask yourself, which one are you? What you see here is a thermostat, and a thermostat is an instrument that responds to external stimulus, external activities. When it's hot, it goes up. When it's cold, it cools down. It really just responds to whatever kind of situation it's being placed in.
Here's a different device. This is called the thermostat. The thermostat chooses a temperature and just keeps it there. Unfortunately, we have far too many thermometer leaders and not enough thermostat leaders. As a thermostat leader, you set the temperature and keep it there. Thermometer leaders get pressure from CEOs, boards, whatever, and then the heat goes on. And then when it goes away temporarily, they go back to other behaviors that weren't getting it done in the first place. And this kind of a roller coaster ride does not create sustainability or predictability in sales. It also undermines your leadership.
We need you today to choose to be a thermostat leader that says, "I'm going to set the temperature and I'm going to make sure that we stay there." To do that, we have to be able to separate outcomes from process. And here's why. Each of you can probably think of a time that you did everything right but you still didn't win the deal. On the flip side, you can think of a time that you might have made every sales mistake possible but you still magically were able to take that win home. What that means is outcomes are not necessarily the best indicator on if we're doing things right from a process side.
So I learned a long time ago to separate them. Here's how I do it. I measure outcomes, and that's real easy. Outcomes could be good or bad. Are we hitting our quota? I also want to measure process. That's things like opportunity starts. It's things like advancement in sales stages. And on the social selling side, it's things like connects, shares, number of influence inside a target, etc. That makes it so I can have a world where outcomes can be good or bad and process can be good or bad. And it creates four boxes. Down in here on this one, outcomes are bad; process is bad. I say you got what you deserved.
Then we come over to here where outcomes are bad and process is good, and we say, "Hey, you got a little unlucky. Got to be patient. Maybe the big deal hasn't closed. Maybe you're early in the sales process. You have to let it have time to work. But the worst thing that you could do is stop doing the process things. We need you to keep doing it. Be patient."
Up here, you can see our process as "we're not that strong, but we've somehow managed to land some good outcomes." Maybe we had a giant deal hit. Some people don't like it when I say, You got lucky." Other people like it better when I say, "It's unsustainable." And that sets us up for the final box, where outcomes are good and process is good. And in this case, we say, "Congratulations. You earned it." Now, the reason this is important, is it creates a system that you can help self-correct rather than self-destruct. By separating process from outcomes, we know when we should be patient and we know when we shouldn't be. We know when we can expect good things to continue to happen, and we know when we need to make changes in order to make it so successful continue to follow us.
Let me show you how we do this. So, pretend we have a representative that has a goal of $1.9 million. And you can see the cross hairs on the side, the 1.9 is right there. In this case, there are $2.45 million. If I didn't have the process and I asked them, "Hey, did you get lucky? or "Did you earned it?", 100% of the sales people would say, "I earned it. Aren't you lucky to have me?" Well, in this case, he did. You can see that they have a goal of 600,000 in opportunity starts, and they've done far better than that. And by tracking over, I'm able to see that they are firmly in the earned category. It's really easy to back into things once you know what their sales goal is and their win rates are. You can do all kinds of interesting things to measure how much process.
Let me add another process layer in there -sales velocity. Let's pretend they know that they win 75% of the deals that they chase in 90 days or less. Well, you can see here, this is how many days it's taking them right now to win deals, and you can see this is what their current pipeline looks like. They are set up to not only understand why they won, they're set up for wins moving forward in the future because their pipeline is so fresh. In this case, we can say this sales rep clearly has earned it.
Now, this is something that's unique in sales management. I hope this approach is something that you find interesting. For today's session, though, I want you to take this approach not just in your other sales metrics, I want you to add your social selling sales metrics. I want you to add things like new contacts. Let's pretend that the same person that had a goal of $1.9 million needs to have 10 new contacts in a week, or whatever the period of time is. And in this case, they're at 18.
They have to have six relationships inside an organization, but they're at eight, or they have to have five articles get shared into other parts of the network. And you can see that in this case, they would have been there. I show you a positive example. The great thing about this, is when you have someone that's not hitting their number, it's really easy to find out what are the things that we need change in order to start having more success. You cannot do this. You cannot self-correct to this degree if you don't separate process from outcomes.
So I'd like to challenge you to find your social process. At HireVue, we're really lucky. We have a world-class social selling leader in Gabe. And if you haven't had a chance to listen to Gabe, you need to listen to what he has to say on this Social Selling Summit. He is world-class. He is a boss at what he does. This is his process he's brought to us at HireVue. This is his social selling revenue workflow. You can see the six points that we do. This is what we are asking every one of our reps to do, and want to have seven touch points in 24 hours.
Now, sometimes it slips and it's 48 hours, but we're still so much more efficient than our competitors when we follow this process. In the time that we've ramped this in, we've seen pipelines jump, or time to revenue jump, and what we're finding is we have more mastery of our pipeline because we're following a simple process that not only works, that we trust, but maybe more important, it's measurable. And we can lay that into our index and say, "Are we doing enough engagements? Are we doing enough follows? Are we doing enough calls? Are we doing enough connects?" Processes like this make it easy for a sales leader to know how to make coaching be something they can kill it with.
So, I'm going to wrap up Law 2 with this: I want you to self-correct through process, not outcomes. Now, this is different. Most sales leaders coach to outcomes, and it's a mistake. All that does is create a crutch for sales people that they rely on you to continue to win business for them. The only way to create stronger sales reps, is to coach the process instead. If you first have development in people, you will soon have developments in products.
So I want you to leave with this: process always drives outcomes. If you have good process, success is inevitable. If you have weak process, success is unachievable or unsustainable. And to do it, make the role of your sales people, make it be oriented about process. Make it oriented around process, not just outcomes. And if you look at the last thing, it's way more important to know why things are what they are, rather than what they are.
That takes us to Law 3. We have to identify skill gaps. This is the law of learning. So once we know what awesome looks like and we literally have shown them what awesome looks like, then we get into this world where we separate a process from outcomes. We understand how much process has to be done, and it's going to let us have the opportunity to appear into the future and know what the future looks like. Instead of being a magician that's a clairvoyant that hopes that they can read the future, we are executing it in a way that allows us to be [inaudible 00:17:52] and predict the future through our execution. Now we will be able to watch for skill gaps in a real predictable way and we can really have learning take off.
I believe that the identification of skill gaps is the hardest job for a sales leader. The bigger your organization, the harder it is to know what the skill gaps are. Unless you're within 24/7, you're left to gut. Gut is not a good way to scale a sales organization, even if it's a small sales organization. But if you have a large sales organization, gut has no place at all. Let me give you an example. Let's pretend we have sales person A and sales person B. They both have $1 million quota. They both hit their $1 million quota. If that's all I know, I'm going to ask who contributed more in the organization, and you can't answer it.
But if I show you something like this: sales person A loses in steps one and two; and sales person B loses in step seven and eight, now I ask who contributed more. It doesn't take very much thinking to realize that sales person A contributed more because they lost earlier and their cost of sale was lower. The reason is, every single step in your process costs money. So it's very easy to calculate cost of sale that sales person A's was lower. There's also a possible way to calculate opportunity cost that is much higher for sales person A than B. Now, the trick question is, which one has the most potential? And that answer is sales person B. Because if sales person B hit the same number of sales as person A, they had to juggle two to three times more opportunities than sales person A did in order to hit the same level.
So if we can train them to lose early instead of late, sales person B is going to have two to three times the level of success that sales person A did. Now, we could not have done this if we didn't have process. So we have to stop looking at our sales people by these lines, "Am I at the monthly goal or below the monthly goal? Am I at the annual goal or below it?" We have to start looking at them like this. Here's an example of someone who's in the deserved category. You can see their opportunity starts below where they needed to be. You can see their sales velocity is below where they needed to be. And wherever you see something below the process line, that's an indication of skill gaps.
It allows you as a coach to jump in and say, "What are the activities?" And in terms of social selling, what are the social selling activities that can help you move from having not enough opportunity starts, to getting back to the middle at 603? Oh, well, you don't have enough connects," "Oh, well, you aren't at three by three," "Oh, well, you aren't at six inside a target." So of course you're not going to be able to have the velocity that you need to have, because you don't have influence. Social selling matches at every single stage of your sales process. If you haven't matched social skill in activities to each of your sales milestones, you are missing an opportunity to figure out how to throw gas on a fire and move faster than those who don't social sell are able to.
The second place that I like to look, is at loss rates. This is an example of a sales person's loss rates. You can see that we want to lose early and not late. Anytime in the sales stage that we see losses spike back up after it should be a nice gentle bell curve that comes down like this, if it ever spikes up, like in this case, you can see a 10% going to 30%, that's indication of a skill gap. So us as a coach need to say, "What do we do from getting this submitted for approval, that got approved? How come we're losing 30% of our approvals?" What are the skills? Well, maybe we don't have enough influence. Social selling will work at every single stage, you just need to have tools and metrics to help you have ideas where to look for the skill gaps. The bigger you are, the harder it is to do. And that's why metrics will be a secret weapon for you if you want to be able to do this.
Now, I'm going to wrap up Law 3 with a real simple statement. We don't want to change your sales team, we want to transform them. Skill gaps are the doorway to performance transformations. The reason I don't like change, change assumes that if you don't like it, you can go back to where you came from. We want to transform and make it so we are different tomorrow than we were the day before because we are doing these things. If we learn from losses, that's the doorway to learning. Most people don't really evaluate losses. They just want to forget about them.
Great sales organizations say, "That is my doorway to learning." Then learning is the doorway to insight. And as we've already said, "Insight is the doorway to improvement." The world's greatest sales leaders are committed not just to creating insight for clients, but it's just as important for us to create insight "aha" moments for our sales people. And if we aren't making social part of the arsenal that we have, if it is not one of the key arrows in our quiver, we are asking them to fight a 2015 battle with 1995 weaponry.
That takes me to the last tactic. As coaches, we have to create cadence. And this is the law of the coach. I hear a lot of people talk about sales culture. I've been hired by a lot of companies to build sales culture. I've helped really political, stodgy companies change their sales culture, and it's just as hard to help young so-called fast moving companies change sales culture. It comes down to how good are you as a coach. So I want you to look at two mythological creatures and ask which approach do you use.
Here's the first one. This is Medusa. In Greek mythology, if you look back at Medusa, you would turn to stone. Nobody wanted to look at Medusa. It freezes you in your tracks. The Romans, of the greatest of all their gods, their mythological creatures, was this person named Janus. And Janus had this amazing power to look at your past and then wouldn't predict your future. He could create whatever future you wanted. While no one wanted to look at Medusa, people came running to Janus and would give freely of all they had: their first born child, the best of all their flocks, money, anything they could give in hopes that it could get them better than what they were.
This is what you should ask yourself right now, "Am I using data to look backwards and beat my sales people and get frustrated they aren't social selling well enough? Or am I able to model awesomeness and find skill gaps to help them look forward to the future and see that something can be as far greater?" Here's how you know. If all you get from your sales team is what you ask, it's very likely that you have a Medusa approach.
However, if they come and they are excited to meet with you and you're having standardized scheduled meetings where they're telling you what they want to get better at and you're engaging with them to help them get there, it's very likely that you're having Janus-type leadership. The best catalyst of all is, which way are you looking? Are you looking backwards or forwards? My advice to you as leaders, look forward and help people get better at what they do at social, rather than tell them all the things they did wrong in the past.
Here's why. I believe there's two kinds of sales organizations: those that take what they want, and those that take what they can get. I want you to ask yourself, which are you? If you're not sure, it means you are take-what-you-can-get organization. Because by definition, if you don't know who the targets are you want, you're just going to take what's left. Social selling helps you become a take-what-you-want organization, because you target them and have influence in them faster than you ever could in the past. So you ask yourself, "What is coaching really?" Here's what I believe it is. It's a process of inquiry that allows your team to articulate what they want, not comply to what you want, and then access their own energy to get it. So as a leader, if you want more social selling to happen, we need to have them understand how it's going to help them achieve what they want.
Here's why: Coach is the catalyst. If you train them on social selling, you'll get a little lift. But if you can train them and then coax them on it, you'll get four times the lift. These are stats from one of our business partners, CEB. And CEB showed that not only do we get the lift from this, but the scary thing is, if you look at the second chart, coaching is usually the biggest weakness for a sales leader. We do well in product knowledge, market knowledge, etc., but when it comes to coaching or finding creative ways to improve performance, those are the two areas that we score the worst. Social is a way to help change that very, very quickly. We need to start coaching on the tools that will give them creativity on improving performance and then helping then benchmark where they want to be. And it's more than short term outcomes.
My favorite stat from CEB on this is, they looked at intent to stay with the company. So this is the intention to stay with the company at every performance bend. So you can see star, average to star, average, low to average, and low. Those that had good coaching are 60% more likely to stay. Those that had poor coaching, they're looking to leave. It's not how much money they make or any of those things, it's the quality of coaching and relationship they have with their leader.
So if you want to not only drive outcomes but hold onto your best people, become a world-class coach and develop a world-class team. I want to give you a simple formula to help do it. Here's my favorite revenue formula. The number of opportunities you chase multiplied by the deal size, multiplied by the win rate, divide it by how long it takes to get there. Now you'll notice these are easy metrics to have. Any sales tool will help you track these. By the way, social will help with every single one of these.
If you follow this and say, "I'll get 10% better at each of them," so instead of having 10 people in my pipeline, we'll find 11. Instead of chasing $100,000 average deal size, we'll make it 110. Instead of winning a third of what we chase, we'll win 33%. Instead of wining in 10 days, we'll get 10% faster and win it in 9. If we could do that, if we could have targeted coaching to help us do those four things better, and you do that math, you'll find you'll grow by 48%. I give you that with a challenge that I helped many companies achieve that kind of growth. Measure those four things, socialize those four things, and you'll find you can grow by half without having to increase your FTE at all.
Finally, I give you this as the last thing to show that you can operationalize how you coach. This is how we do it in sales force; we pick coaching goals. So you can see that we have a tab of coaching excellence. We have dropped downs of what are the things that a coach and a sales rep want to get great at? We can choose regular sales activities or social sales activities. We can create coaching goals. We can put values on the goals. And then we have best practice libraries where we can click on this, and in a second, see videos of the very best people inside our organization discussing how they do these things.
Finally, we'll have reports. So, historically, they can see are they meeting their coaching goals or not. And what we do with this, is we create cadence on getting better and better and better, and achieve a slow methodical well-identified ramp. And then we take it back in here and we look at these things. You'll see that my chart down here at the bottom, we operationalize. Are they on the deserve box or are they in the lucky box? Or are they in the earned box? And the second thing you see down there is we're tracking "What's the coaching goal that we're chasing?"
I want to finish with this quote: "A good coach will make people see what they can be, not what they are." Are you that kind of coach? Are you focused on what they are? Or are you focused on what they can be? You're going to achieve cadence through coaching. And my thing I want to leave you with, is what direction are you going? So to summarize this presentation, and I hope you've liked it, this is the story of the tortoise and the hare. We know the moral of it: Slow and steady wins the race. Well, I'm changing these off fable. It's going to be steady wins the race. And in the world of social selling, steady wins the race. It's not something we do once or twice, it's something we achieve cadence in every single day.
Here's the four law: model awesomeness and make sure the right things are happening; separate process and outcomes and self-correct before you self-destruct; identify skill gaps so you could open the doorway to improvement and transform how you sell; and finally, create cadence and help your team realize what they can be, not just who they are. And not only will you have results that you've never had, you'll become legendary in the minds of your team as a coach. You'll find that you are Janus and they bring you freely the best of what they have. They will lean on you and look to you for things that they might not have been able to do any other way. And if you build social into this, not only will you find that it helps you do it faster, but it's going to give you tools that make it even more fun.
I hope you've enjoyed the presentation. I hope you can kill it with coaching and social this year. If you have questions, reach out to me at HireVue. I would love to connect with you. You can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me on Twitter. That's my email address. We are committed to being part of this social community that helps everyone make how they sell way more important than what it is they sell. I wish you good luck and happy selling, and thanks for participating in our meeting today.