Mark Boundy

By Mark Boundy

Sales Culture, Elevated.

Sales Culture, Elevated. 150 150 Mark Boundy

This article is part three of a three-part series on the future of sales performance.

In parts 1 and 2, I wrote that:

  • CRM alone not enough; in fact, many companies have found it’s the tail that wags the dog.
  • Process, and even more importantly, methodology are real difference-makers. Coaching process and methodology makes performance improvement sustainable.

In this article, we’re going to dig a little deeper into the coaching that drives long term sales success. Sustaining world-class performance is about sales culture; culture that ingrains process into the operating rhythm of the organization. Process and methodology do no good unless they are internalized by a sales organization, and the process of internalizing establishes a strong sales culture. When a methodology becomes the default go-to-customer approach for your organization, it enables the three goals of a sales system:

  1. Drive deal-winning behaviors, not simple activity-based measures.
  2. Re-vector at-risk deals, identifying and mitigating risks with opportunities.
  3. Replicate winning across, raising the performance of all sellers in the team.

Dynamic coaching culture

CSO Insights has conducted extensive research supporting the value of a dynamic coaching culture.  The research shows that companies whose coaching culture captures analytics from successful sales, refines sales data into define winning sales behaviors – then supports sales leaders as they coach those behaviors across the sales force outperform their peers.  Dynamic coaching culture is different than simple coaching:  there is a closed loop between results and how process and methodology is emphasized by the organization.  This loop drives self-sustainment and continuous improvement.

Dynamic coaching cultures experience far superior outcomes than average sales organizations:

  • A higher percentage of these companies meet revenue plan.
  • More reps make quota. The gains come from across the sales force, not just a few high performers
  • Win rates are higher. This means forecasts are more accurate
  • Late loss rates are lower. Fewer of those resource-sucking late losses that ruin sales productivity
  • Staff turnover is lower. Lose fewer of the people you want to keep, rehab more of the marginal performers, converting them to keepers.

A robust self-sustaining coaching culture builds the foundation for two things:

  1. Sales performance. The outcomes above are worthwhile goals in themselves, but…
  2. Self-sustaining culture (manager bench strength, coaching acumen, leadership succession/career path). Building a sales culture to last means building sales careers worth having.

The Past, Present and Future of Dynamic Coaching

Let’s look at where we’ve been, and where we’ve led our industry: coaching on CRM-resident tools.

I’ve worked with Miller Heiman Group (and its predecessor, Miller Heiman) tools for almost 30 years. Success in my business is all about delivering outcomes for clients. The reason Miller Heiman Group is the largest in the B2B space is that we’re the partner sales organizations keep engaged with longer…we have the least leaky bucket…growing our clients is how we grow.

Based upon thousands of client engagements, I can tell you with absolute conviction that the key to long-term success is in not conducting training events, but executing long term change in selling behavior organization-wide.  A successful engagement is almost universally the one with a robust component of sales manager coaching, where front line managers become the primary change agents.

The gold standard of coaching is personally diagnosed and delivered by the front-line sales manager (FSM).  This kind of coaching is high-touch, requiring not only discipline by the FSM, but a corporate capability in developing coaches and prioritizing coaching activity over the many other demands on an FSMs time.

While manager-delivered coaching is preferable, it is not always available at the right time for every deal.  We have also noticed that a large proportion of coaching is on a core set of selling behaviors.  That is, managers tend to diagnose and coach the same behaviors over and over.  With the right methodology and the right CRM system (one that helps track deal-moving behaviors, not meaningless activities), an intelligent coaching platform is possible.

Where you can go:

  • Instead of manager-initiated intervention, how about system-led?
    • Not today’s activity-based prompts. Selling behavior-based prompts…seller actions that moves deals, not activity that occupies selling time
  • A rules engine, based upon 40 years of Miller Heiman Group expertise, which can diagnose those repetitive selling
  • AI/big data capabilities which can take it even further.

Where are You?  Where Do You Want to Go?

When you’re tracking and managing to activities, today’s CRM can work just fine.  On the other hand, when you’re trying to establish a rigorous selling culture with a consistent management cadence, you can more efficiently accomplish the three goals of a world-class sales system::

  1. Drive winning selling actions. This means actions, not activities.
  2. Change deal outcomes more rapidly identify at-risk opportunities and figure out how to re-vector them toward success.
  3. Replicate success. Learn what behaviors predict success in your business, and turn them into a rules engine for your sales tool to automatically recommend.

We Can Take You There

Miller Heiman Group has leveraged over 40 years of sales performance expertise into a powerful set of tools.  They have bundled methodology with a dynamic coaching application, which can be freestanding or integrated with a CRM system. It helps front line sales leaders by lightening the routinized part of their coaching load, allowing them to concentrate their time on higher level opportunity strategy.  Sellers become more effective by building sound selling behavior habits.  Finally, senior sales leaders see improved results, and have insight-producing analytics into how to improve sales even more.

I’m excited about this new capability, and am thrilled to offer it to clients. Contact me to discuss whether we might drive winning actions, change deal outcomes, and replicate success in your organization.

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