Sales Coaching and Performance Roadmaps
This is the fourth article in a series related to seven key areas that drive sales and revenue growth performance for organizations involved in business to business (B2B) sales of products and services. These seven articles are intended to drill deeper a few key areas initially outlined in the sales consulting articles entitled “Ten Sales Tips.”
The first article focused on recruiting the optimal company-owned or outsourced sales force. The second article was about recruiting great sales and marketing talent, as well as ensuring that your “Revenue Mechanism”, that particular blend of human and other “go-to-market” resources, is optimized and can indeed propel your company into the winner’s circle. In the third article we looked at the complexity and four principal roles that Sales Coaches are obliged to play if their organizations are to succeed in the race for revenue and market share growth.
In this fourth installment we’ll look at a generalized “Performance or Success Roadmap” for achieving extraordinary success as a CEO, Sales Leader, Sales Coach, Sales Consultant, or anyone with the daunting task of coaching sales professionals in achieving sales performance.
First, I think it will be helpful to draw a distinction between a Success Roadmap (also often referred to as Performance System) and a sales and marketing process. A Success Roadmap is that system of beliefs, goals and objectives, processes, skills and motivation that make individual and company performance possible. Our job as sales coaches at Sales Overdrive is to assist client companies in assembling all of the necessary resources, processes and talent, and then to coach and mentor individuals, teams and organizations toward achieving the company’s objectives. Effective sales and marketing processes are vitally important, but remain parts of a larger system. So when we discuss Success Roadmaps, it will be with this broader view in mind.
The Performance Roadmap for Sales Coaches
Any effective Performance Roadmap for sales coaches will include the following elements:
1. Essential Assets
- Growth Strategy
- Sales Processes & Systems
- Personal Competencies
- Management Practices
- Skills Development
2. Goals and Objectives
3. Core Values and Guiding Principles
4. Reward Systems
Essential Assets consist of all those things against which a sales coach can reasonably be expected to measure and benchmark the skills and effectiveness of individual contributors and that of the organization overall as it pertains to competing in the marketplace. Essential Assets is a large topic that warrants a deep dive. We will devote the last three articles in this series to this area.
Goals and Objectives are common to all organizations. Alignment between individual, team and enterprise goals is essential in order to understand behaviors, measure performance and provide appropriate coaching. Setting and/or validating the appropriateness of company and sales team goals and objectives is a key function for sales coaches, sales and marketing leaders and CEOs.
Core Values and Guiding Principles come to life when communicated across the organization, written and rewritten, and lived out in the language and behavior of the team, especially the sales and marketing team.
But Core Values differ from Guiding Principles. Core Values are those vital few values that all members of the organization are expected to use, live by and demonstrate on a daily basis while executing their work responsibilities. Core Values are the essential and enduring tenets of an organization. Every Sales Coach must live and breathe the Core Values in their all the roles we discussed last week, but especially in their roles as Champion, Mentor and Evangelist.
Guiding Principles, on the other hand are the fundamental beliefs that guide the operation of a sales team or specific program, such as a Tier I pursuit team. As an example, the Core Values developed for a Sales Organization we served recently included these:
Open, Honest Communication – Speaking with one another openly and directly, bringing the hallway conversations into the meeting rooms. Listening intently and encouraging different ideas and opinions.
Teamwork and Collaboration – Working together, with the Company as the priority; even if this means supporting something you might want to do differently. Basing all decisions on what is best for the Company. Making sure that the Company, not the individual, has the biggest ego.
Involving Everyone – Seeking the best information from all sources while supporting decisions made by those closest to the situation. Each person who uses his or her voice to better the Company will be rewarded. Everyone must believe his or her voice will make a difference.
“Boundarylessness” – Sharing knowledge and relationships in a fresh, open environment. Taking the time to share your knowledge with others. Accepting great ideas regardless of their source.
Leaders Who Serve – Leading is not about power or control, but is measured by the success of those on the team being led. Leaders don’t get on the backs of their people – they get behind and push. Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility.
Personal Accountability – Set clear, aggressive goals and deliver on your commitments. Every person keeps his or her word by doing what is promised including showing up for meetings on time. Surely these Core Values would exemplify not only a great sales organization, but the senior sales coach as well.
As you can see, Guiding Principles are the fundamental beliefs that guide the daily operation of a sales team or specific program. They are the standards for behaviors that are more specific and aligned with a particular campaign, sales program or team of sales professionals all pushing to achieve common goals.
The following are the key Guiding Principles we co-developed with a professional services client recently:
Understanding Our Market
- Continuously analyze the marketplace, forecasting future trends and service needs for purposes of investment decisions.
- Know our competition and the relationships they maintain within our existing clients and target clients.
Capturing and Servicing Opportunities
- Protect and nurture existing client relationships, continuously measuring client satisfaction.
- Actively pursue relationships that create profitable business opportunities for us and for our clients.
- Dominate the Dallas/Fort Worth market as the premier professional services organization.
- Develop new practice areas based on anticipated demand, risk profile, and potential profitability.
- Optimize the pricing of our services based on the market’s perception of value.
- Continuously improve the following elements as the foundation of our competitive advantage: relationship management; technical skills and industry knowledge; and technology.
Minding Our Business
- Working as one SBU, meet or exceed profitability expectations of the Firm.
- Proactively manage business risk factors in relation to expected rewards.
- Continuously improve our service delivery system, focusing on the effectiveness and efficiency of both the practice organization and its supporting infrastructure.
Developing Our Resources
- Directly link the office’s strategic goals with performance and contribution goals for individual partners and managers.
- Create an environment that allows each partner and employee to reach their full professional and personal potential, capitalizing on their diversity.
- Support our partners and employees as they expand and enhance their skill bases to ensure success in a rapidly changing business environment.
So as you can see, how your organization defines its core values and guiding principles has a huge impact on the unity, focus and direction of an organization. It also provide a great platform for coaching in some of the areas that are not purely “by the numbers”. I encourage every CEO, Sales Leader and Sales Coach to look at their organization’s core values and guiding principles very carefully to see if they 1) are appropriate for the enterprise in today’s environment, 2) if they align with organizational goals and objectives, and 3) if they can be leveraged for enhanced communication, greater organizational focus and the development of a common language around sales and, finally 4) if they can be used as an effective framework in mentoring your people.
Often referred to as a component of a sales process, Reward Systems are broken out here as a separate element of the Performance Roadmap. I’ve done this due to the opportunity it can provide both for sales coaching, and for its potential impact on organizational success. The best compensation and reward plans are tightly aligned with the business and sales strategy. The worst are causes of dissatisfaction and attrition. Your compensation plan needs to reward (or at least support) the application of your go-to-market strategy and sales process as well as performance against you revenue and/or customer goals.
Too often, compensation plans focus exclusively on the metrics surrounding outcomes such as proposals issued, proposals converted, quarterly closings and the like. While these are important, doesn’t it make more sense in every sales coaching session to look behind the numbers and closely examine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the root behaviors that are the most predictive of success or failure?
Please note that I’m pretty fanatical about the importance of coaching around KPIs and the larger topic of “Predictive Behaviors”. The reason I believe this area should be treated separately from sales process and other Assets is that it’s such an important area is missed so often by so many very smart people.
Frankly, I believe this is one of the most glaring misses for Sales Coaches and it is often missing entirely in compensation plans. Oh, someone in you company’s HR department noticed that rewarding around Predictive Behavior is difficult to measure and somewhat risky to do? So we should dismiss achieving sales excellence and wining the market because it’s very difficult? Of course not!
So let me share just four of twelve KPI’s that seem much more predictive of success than the number of calls we might make per week, for example. These four favorites of mine are adaptability, ability to create value applications in real time, emotional awareness and the ability to create trust. But someone said you can’t teach or coach around these? Yes you can indeed. Most of these can be measured and I can share our tools with you on this as well.
I do hope you have found this article helpful to you and your organization. For more information on sales coaches, follow the link to our services section. Next week we’ll drill down into some of the Essential Assets including the Sales Process. Until then, keep your sales in OverDrive!