By Lorna Heynike, Senior Vice President, and Curt Richtermeyer, Vice President, Sales Effectiveness Solutions

After our session at Dreamforce ’11 with Comcast on leveraging Sales Coaching for driving more effective selling, the booth buzzed with conversations as attendees lined up for demos of our MySalesCoach iPad app, and discussed best practices in coaching. The most frequently asked question: How do you know what to coach on? That is, what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that lead to improved sales performance?

Sales Coaching has become one of the hottest topics in CRM. However, in order to ensure your managers (coaches) aren’t teaching bad habits and passing on strange sports rituals that work for no one but themselves, it’s critical to develop scorecards that measure good behaviors – that is, activities that repeatedly lead to real results. Sales leaders often find the task of determining the right set of activities and skills to coach on to be daunting. However, it’s surprisingly easy to build a set of meaningful metrics to coach on that work for your organization. Here’s a high-level process we’ve seen repeatedly work to help standardize on the best practices of the sales stars.

Step 1: Hypothesize

As a starting point, simply build a straw-man strategy map. This helps define your expectations of your reps in clear terms, and lay out your assumptions about the procedures required to meet those expectations. Many of our customers start with the Sales Quota to focus on results (e.g., revenue, subscription value, new customers), and then work backwards, mapping the activities that drive prospects through the pipeline funnel to closure — leads, conversions to opportunities, conversions to sales (win rate, close rate). For example:


For each stage in the pipeline, you need to also think about the sales skills that drive success. Examples we have seen include:

  • Prospecting: generates a higher volume of leads, higher yield opportunities
  • Prospect Qualification: generates a higher opportunity conversion rate
  • Value-Based Selling, Objection Handling: generates a higher win rate and close rate
  • Negotiation: generates an increase in average deal size
  • Closing: reduces average sales cycle time, generates a higher close rate per rep

Note that it’s rarely a one-size fits all process. You will likely develop a different strategy map for your inside sales teams versus your outbound teams, transaction sales models versus solution selling models.

Step 2. Test

Now that you have defined your success factors, you can put the KPIs to work through a scorecard. A sales rep scorecard will give you a snapshot picture of each rep’s performance, and then break that performance down into the key root causes. For example:

You can quickly see who your A, B, and C players are. Similar to a GPA, you get a high level idea of overall health and performance of each rep. This may be all you need and can move on, however…This scorecard works because:

  • You may want to know more about why they are an A, B, or a C. Where are they doing well? Where are they struggling? And finally..
  • You also need to know where the gaps are so you can coach and develop the rep to higher levels of performance.

Step 3. Refine

Scorecards like this one not only enable managers to coach on the gaps in the rep’s performance, but they also test fundamental assumptions about selling, showing what activities and skills really drive performance. After you’ve created a scorecard like this one, you can start to tie them directly to outcomes.
What methods of coaching work best for you? Do let us know—Leave a comment below, or send an email to analyzing your results across your sales team, you can identify the real skills and activities in your team that drive real results. This analysis not only gives you a greater understanding of the factors that make your A players what they are, but also a holistic picture of all the tasks and training that contributes the most to your results. With this information, you can decide where to invest, and refine your coaching program so you can replicate the success of your A-level performers across your B and C players.

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