HR Management & Compliance

‘Sales Enablement’ Is on the Rise: Different Types of Coaching to Better Enable Sales Teams

Sales enablement has gone from being used by 19% of companies in 2013 to 59% in 2017. And for good reason—there’s a direct correlation between sales enablement disciplines and attaining sales quotas. Companies that implement enablement programs reach revenue goals at a rate more than 8% higher than those that do not.

 Historically, leaders believed that successful sale practitioners were more art than science. Today, those successful sales teams will combine sales methodology, robust content, training and coaching services, and technology to meet the needs of current and future data-driven businesses.

Effective coaching services also result in an 8% improvement in quota attainment, while effective training services improve quota attainment between 18% and 22%.

To succeed, the enablement team must collaborate closely with HR, L&D and other supporting departments. To dive deeper, we’d like to share the below book excerpt with the HR Daily Advisor community:

Why Enablement Needs to Offer Coaching Services

First, let’s level set on coaching. Sales coaching is the process by which sales managers and others use a defined approach and specific communication skills, combined with domain expertise, to facilitate conversations with team members to uncover improvement areas and opportunities for new levels of sales success.

On the surface, this is straightforward. Coaching has been a focus for selling organizations for decades. Unfortunately, most sales organizations we work with label coaching as one of their biggest challenges. Managers struggle with finding the time (and making the decision) to prioritize such conversations and they lack the methods, skills and tools for having such conversations consistently and effectively. Filling this gap will take a significant effort by the enablement organization and those with whom you collaborate.

Yet the payoff is powerful. Coaching is the best way to drive adoption and reinforcement of the initial investments in enabling salespeople. Developing coaching skills is also essential for an organization looking to make any sort of significant transformation, such as a move from a transactional, product-oriented approach to one focused on business outcomes.

In fact, the 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that organizations that achieved dynamic coaching maturity by actively targeting sales managers with enablement services and purposefully driving coaching services aligned to an overall enablement framework could improve their win rates for forecast deals by 28% compared to the study’s average of 52%. If you are not there yet, you are not alone. Only 11% of respondents had achieved this level of coaching maturity at this point in their enablement journey.

 There is still much to be gained (14% improvement) from formal coaching maturity where you provide coaching training and hold people accountable for using it. Either formal or dynamic

is preferable to an informal approach with a lightly documented approach and no reinforcement or accountability or worse yet, a random approach where coaching is left up to each manager to do as they see fit.

Coaching services add another layer to our enablement services framework and can help you move from random/informal to formal, and ultimately dynamic coaching maturity. Coaching services are content and training used to develop sales managers so they can coach their sales teams effectively, driving adoption and reinforcement of the initial enablement services provided for salespeople.

As you consider how to incorporate coaching services into your enablement framework, be sure to think broadly about the audiences for these kinds of services. Most obviously, sales managers are the core target audience. However, they shouldn’t be your only focus. Consider:

  • Salespeople themselves. Many tools, especially newer AI-enabled tools that synthesize data and surface insights, are designed to be self-service. For example, a diagnostic tool can use an analytics-driven definition of ideal customer criteria to assess an opportunity and recommend possible approaches and value messages to use. In those scenarios, salespeople will need to be enabled to use tools to analyze their own situations and coach themselves (ideally, in complement to the interactions with their sales managers).
  • Sales leaders and sales directors. Those who manage sales managers must be equipped for their roles in helping sales managers become more effective and leverage the methodologies, skills and tools they are provided. Coach-the-coach enablement services are an area for future growth for most organizations and enablement functions.
  • Coaches without administrative authority. Some organizations have professional sales coaches taking over, or supplementing, direct manager coaching. In others, there may be key leaders outside of the sales team who are in an appropriate position to coach salespeople effectively. Finally, you may implement peer coaching or mentoring programs. All of these individuals should be provided with the services needed to fulfill their coaching roles.

Coaching services reinforce the content and training services provided to the sales team and improve the return on your investment in enabling salespeople.  With an evidence-based case for why enablement should offer coaching services and for whom, it is important to know and understand the types of coaching you will enable. From there, you can lay the foundation for the coaching portion of your enablement charter and assert which types of coaching you’ve yet to define in your sales enablement imperative. It’s also important to understand how to coach – not just what to coach. It is no easy path to reaching full coaching maturity, but a worthwhile one.

We encourage you to explore the world of sales enablement, using coaching as one of the necessary pillars to optimizing its practice. Doing so will allow your organization to realize greater revenue gains, sales quota attainment and effectively sales team retention, to do so.

The above is an exclusive excerpt from Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force” co-authored by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk to explore the exploding business function of sales enablement.