3 Steps to Data-driven Sales Coaching

Christoffer Bergstrøm, Sales Director at House of Control, discusses the impact of data-driven sales coaching.

More than 100 people recently registered for our webinar ‘How to sell more with data-driven sales coaching.’

Since this topic was so popular, we’ve summarized the webinar ‘take-aways’ into 3 steps. Each step includes a list of key sales reports to help you guide coaching meetings.

Why data-driven sales coaching?

‘Data-driven’ means having a systematic approach to sales coaching based on quantitative sales metrics. Rather than starting coaching sessions based on a personal understanding, each session starts with clear, measurable expectations that both parties agree on. From there, you systematically review what’s happened and plan next steps, developing one area at a time.

From a coaches perspective, a data-driven approach makes coaching easier and more effective. Not only will you help reps hit their targets in the short run, you help them develop a better understanding what they can do, on their own, to be more successful in the long-run.

For example, sellers may be clear they have a monthly budget, but do they know exactly how many new opportunities this means?

From a sellers perspective, data-driven sales coaching is easy to understand. There’s no ‘fluffy’ terms or uncertainty. Every goal is measured and sellers can take control of their own development, without being forced to rely on anyone else.

Keys to success

Data-driven sales coaching employs well-known, but sometimes overlooked techniques:

  • Base coaching on measurements and actions that increase sales
  • Recognize sale performances to reinforce desired behaviors
  • Coach often – set fixed times for meetings

Before you start, it’s important to clearly define your sales process and ensure the process is set-up correctly in your CRM system. There should be one process per sales type.

If your sales data is inaccurate or poor quality, don’t worry. As you and your teams use data, the quality will improve because all the parties see its advantage. It is a ‘win-win’ situation.

Step 1: Determine what is required to reach budget

A good starting point for coaching discussions is to agree personal target revenue with sales reps. This is usually a breakdown of your company or team budgets.

From here you can reach a common understanding of sales pipeline requirements and ensure targets are realistic.

This includes reviewing:

  • How much (# opportunities and value) needs to be in the pipeline in order to hit monthly target?
  • How many new opportunities (# cases and value) need to come into the pipeline (refill)?
  • What is the difference between actual and required?

The pipeline requirements, are calculated based on a person’s 4 key sales velocity metrics. These include: number of opportunities, hit rate, average deal size, and lead time (also called ‘sales cycle’).

In the example below, John has a budget of 100,000 Euro per month. Based on the last 6 months, he has 44 opportunities per month, a hit rate of 55%, an average order size of 17,707 Euro and lead time of 65 days (2,18 months). Assuming these factors stay the same, he needs 181 034 Euro in new opportunities per month.

Example: Pipeline Requirements Calculator

If a person joined your team 6 months ago, they might need a ramp up time. In this case it might make sense to base pipeline requirements on their sales velocity for the last 3 months rather than all 6.

Once pipeline requirements are established, each sales rep has their own roadmap. This makes it easier to control and change what’s happening. It’s much better, for example, to know there are too few new opportunities before the end of the month, so there is time to do something about it.

Using the same calculations as above, you can stretch the limits and test different scenarios. What happens if hit rate increases 2% or lead time decreases by 1%? Which one of the variables gives the greatest improvement? Even a minor improvement can have a major impact. Maybe you want reps to focus on one of these KPIs for the next 6 months?

Step 2: Secure movement through the pipeline

Coaching sessions should include a look at activities. Without a planned activity to move cases from stage to stage – they risk being lost or forgotten.

One challenge, however, is sorting our the cases that are moving as planned, from those that aren’t.

In this case, the following reports are useful:

  1. Cases past the decision date.
  2. Cases without a planned activity. e.g. email, phone call, new meeting
  3. Cases that have an activity planned, but the plan hasn’t been followed.

With this information it’s easier to spot potential issues. At meetings, you can discuss ways to solve them.

Step 3: Evaluate the sales process and plan ahead

The final step is to evaluate sales processes and analyze data. The analysis gives deeper insight about what you can do sell more effectively.

Different views of sales data are needed to analyze results. A single view of the pipeline doesn’t give a clear picture.

Key reports used in analysis include:

  • Forecast and sold versus budget – review current period and discuss upcoming forecast per month and accumulated
  • Pipeline requirements report – gain visibility into status and spot variance from target
  • Open opportunities by stage and close date – manage opportunities and evaluate
  • Win/loss report – understand win/loss rates and reasons
  • Lead source report – review the best source of leads
  • Sales per segment or product – see whether reps are working strategically towards the right customer segments
  • Activity reports – spot trends and make comparisons

These reports provide valuable information about sales processes. While there is certainly a mix of skills that are important to being a good sales coach, using data to understand performance is always a good start. As the amounts of sales data increases, the more insight that data gives us.

Get your sales coaching reports

Interested in calculating your pipeline requirements or learning more about how Business Analyze can help you coach reps to success? Contact us here