IT Staffing Sales Effectiveness
Sales best practices for improving sales win rates, shortening the sales cycle and increasing overall quota attainment. Sales strategies to make revenue growth repeatable, and scalable
Not too long ago I had a customer who hired me to do an assessment of their front line sales managers. The owner wanted me to provide objective feedback on the effectiveness of a few of their Branch Managers including their ability to coach and develop talent. I kicked the process of with an introductory phone call to make introductions and properly set expectations at which time the manager shared with me "I provide coaching all day, throughout the day. My coaching is very hands on and in the moment." I said that is awesome, I look forward to working with you and seeing you in action. When I arrived in the office however I discovered that this manager, like many managers, believed that the purpose of sales coaching was to correct negative behaviors by telling their reps or recruiters what they did wrong, in real time. He would say "do more of X" or "stop doing Y."
Many sales organizations have invested more time, money and effort over the past few years training their managers to improve their coaching skills then they did in the previous 25. This makes perfect sense when you consider a recent report conducted by the Sales Executive Council shows that no other productivity investment comes close to improving sales performance than sales coaching.
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There are managers who coach and mentor their employees and there are those who don't. Sales and Recruiting managers who fail to coach are not necessarily bad managers, but they are neglecting an amazing opportunity and a proven tool for developing and retaining talent and accelerating the growth of their business. I've worked with hundreds of IT staffing leaders over the years and have observed what distinguishes them from managers who fail to coach. What has stood out in my dealings with these leaders who do coach is their attitude and mindset: They simply believe in the value of coaching. They think of their role as a manager as less about managing process, and more about increasing the value and self-worth of their employees. Coaching is a natural part of their "managers tool kit. Keep in mind, these are not professional coaches, they're front line managers who manage a group of sales reps and/or recruiters, they have their own book of business and they're crazy busy, hard-working people like every other manager. So why do they consistently commit to making the time in their daily schedule to coach their direct reports? Here are four reasons why managers should dedicate time to coaching.
Anyone who has been in sales leadership or sales enablement for any length of time knows that the key to transforming average performers into top performers is sales coaching. Yet the excuses for a lack of coaching including time limitations, other competing priorities, compensation plan, or the absence of a formal coaching strategy are just a few of the common excuses for why front line sales managers and recruiting managers don't coach.
Before we dive into the five sales enablement tools your salesforce needs today, we should remind ourselves of what sales enablement is and why it matters. Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales (and recruiting) organization with the technology, tools, processes, methodologies, training, coaching and playbooks that help salespeople sell more effectively and recruiters recruit more effectively. The intention of sales emablement is to provide salespeople with what they need in order to consistently engage customers and candidates in productive conversations at each stage of the sales process. There is a plethora of sales enablement tools available, but I think the examples that follow should give you a good idea of the types of technology on the market including the types of tools your salespeople need and how they can make your sales team more productive.
Before I dive into metrics to track sales enablement effectiveness, we should first take a quick refresher on what sales enablement is and why it is important. Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales (and recruiting) organization with the technology, tools, processes, methodologies, training, coaching and playbooks that help salespeople sell more effectively and recruiters recruit more effectively.
Frequently I get asked by customers and industry colleagues, "Dan, what are the trends you're seeing in the marketplace?" "Dan, what are some of the best practices you see high growth IT staffing firms adopting? "What are the common characteristics shared across high performing sales teams?" While I wouldn't say there is one specific characteristic or best practice, there is however a growing trend. The trend I'm seeing with many of the most progressive staffing CEO's including the fastest growing IT staffing companies is they're adopting sales enablement as a formal business practice. While this has been a common business practice in other industries for years, only the truly commited, the early adopters, seem to be incorporating sales enablement as a formal business practice in their staffing business. As I wrote in a previous blog, there seems to be much confusion over what sales enablement is and why it matters.
If you work in the sales profession than chances are you’ve heard the term sales enablement. While it has been a hot topic, there seems to be a bit of confusion around what exactly it is and whether or not it's a short term trend or a practice that truly delivers results and is here to stay long term.
Film room study has long been a core component to sports training and coaching athletes at all levels including high school, college and professional. Coaches and athletes alike use video to analyze and improve technique, scheme and performance. Video coaching and analysis goes far beyond simply talking about practice or what happened in a game. While sports coaches rely on studying film to improve technique, scheme and performance, staffing and recruiting managers rely on rep-rides, analogies, metaphors, activity reports and rah-rah speeches for motivation and improved performance. From my experience, I have found that many people feel the word “coaching” is awkward. There seems to be an assumption and belief that because we were hired to do a job because of our qualifications, there is no need for coaching. Coaching is for the incompetent. But all professionals, regardless of experience and skill level need coaching. I think the real issue is it can be difficult to accept constructive feedback, and for the coach (manager), it can also be difficult delivering constructive feedback. Some people simply don’t feel comfortable with what coaching entails. But what if there was a way to bridge the gap and make coaching easier and more comfortable for both the coach and student to participate in?
Maybe you have seen this movie before? You hire a new sales rep or recruiter and they breeze their way through new hire on-boarding. They read all of your materials, understand your ATS system and how to enter contacts and job orders and they learn your recruiting process as well as your service offerings and pricing. They start cold calling and connecting with new prospects even land some face to face sales meetings with new accounts. But wait, where are the job orders? Or, maybe the job orders are coming but they're not closing? Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and that once enthusiastic and energetic new sales rep (or recruiter) is now slumping in their chair feeling and looking defeated. Sound familiar?