With over 25 years of executive sales leadership experience with Pearson Education, Apple, KnowledgeNet, and Digital Equipment Corporation, Karl Gustafson knows a bit about the industry.
When asked recently to break down his extensive insights, Karl stressed the importance of three areas of management.
“For the past 25 years, I have been leading sales teams. I have always sought ways to make my teams stronger through metrics, training, and coaching of best practices.”
When I inquired which of these approaches produced the most benefit when it comes to building a strong sales team, Karl answered, “Every good sales leader uses metrics to improve his or her sales organization. And training has value; however, its effects are frequently short-lived. Coaching, on the other hand, can be the most effective means of bringing about repeatable and sustainable changes in sales behaviors.”
Karl’s conclusions regarding coaching aren’t merely his own – according to Harvard Business Review, no other productivity investment even comes close to the effectiveness of sales coaching, in regards to improving sales rep performance.
In fact, a classic article on the subject stated that even a moderate improvement in coaching quality can equate to a 6-8% percent increase in performance across 50% of your sales force – and that the best quality coaching can offer impact to performance as high as 19%.
So, what are Karl’s top three tips for team leaders or sales managers wishing to improve their coaching savvy? Here they are:
- The strategy you use is not nearly as important as its execution. Making sure everyone on your team understands the goal and the approach is key to ensuring you’re on the same page – and that your strategy is executed appropriately. Avoid a sales strategy fail by outlining the details of your sales strategy and its desired effects, and enlisting the support of your entire sales team.
- The best managers are excellent motivators. A successful team needs a leader who understands their motivations, lives up to their agreements, and supports and encourages the growth of their team members. The best managers know that improving morale and inspiring their sales team will lead to better sales – and that both require honing their managerial skills.
- If you’re experiencing high turnover, you’re doing it wrong. Recruiting, hiring, and training is expensive – in fact, experts say that replacing one sales rep can cost your business approximately 150-200% of their yearly salary. Strategic hiring and an effective on-boarding process will go a long way towards helping you retain sales professionals – but if you are still experiencing higher turnover than expected, it’s time to explore the reasons – and adjust your management strategy to reduce your exposure to high turnover.
When asked if he had any parting words of wisdom for managers seeking to urge their sales teams on to improved performance, Karl said, “Remember: sales, at its very core, is a process. If you can identify and coach to processes already inherent in your “A” players, other members of the sales team will benefit.”
To read articles written by Karl Gustafson, click here. Or, connect with him via LinkedIn.
To learn more about how the SalesFitRx web and mobile app can help you improve your sales team’s performance, contact Karl today: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com