Sales managers have limited opportunities to coach their sales reps in real time. More often than not, coaching is done after the fact and is based on anecdote and the limited information available in one’s CRM. Data-driven coaching can help to overcome this shortfall, as well-designed activity metrics surface problems early and isolate areas of improvement quickly. More than just a fad, data-driven coaching is a new sales paradigm that can have a significant impact on team performance. Below we’ve compiled our top tips for fostering a culture of data-driven sales coaching.
1) Be fanatical about logging activities
When trying to engage in more data-driven coaching with your sales team, it is critical for all sales activities to be in the CRM–emails, meetings, calls, even social media messages (i.e. that pesky LinkedIn InMail) should all be dutifully logged. Thankfully, major CRMs are making this easier and easier, and there are plenty of third party tools to help fill in gaps. However, nothing is foolproof yet, and your reps are going to have to take some ownership over the quality of their activity data. Only once the raw data is in the CRM, can we begin analysis.
2) Check email response rates
How often do prospects respond to the emails your team sends? “Sales acceleration” tools such as Outreach and Salesloft do a decent job of capturing response rates for cold prospecting emails, but we recommend looking at this number in aggregate across all types of prospect emails, whether or not the email is from an semi-automated template. This metric gives a sense of how good your team is at prospecting and following up in general. A number too low means a rep might be spraying wildly or not connecting with their audience. Dive into open rates to check for subject-line issues, but also look under the hood at what is actually said in the emails, i.e. check length, the call-to-action, social proof, etc. On the other hand, a number too high is, perhaps surprisingly, also not desirable. A high number likely means the sales rep is not prospecting enough or not going after enough cold or unresponsive prospects, which can impact future results. As you can probably guess, this is one of those metrics where the “just right” level takes some experimentation to find, but is very valuable once you find it.
3) Monitor meeting no-shows
If the number of no-shows begins increasing, it can be a leading indicator of a coming dip in bookings. All else being equal, sales reps can get their no-show numbers down by sending automated reminders the day before or day of a meeting. Also, calendar tools like Calendly help give prospects easy options to reschedule. While it might seem that reminders and rescheduling links will just give prospects an escape hatch to bail on your meetings, including them actually gives prospects agency over their meetings and almost always increases the number of conversations that happen. Tip: make sure to get phone numbers when possible so you can call if anyone still no-shows.
4) Pay attention to rep response time
This is a bit of a controversial metric, but it can be valuable in the right hands. Research has shown a fast response time to be important in a variety of sales contexts, and that is likely true for your business as well. Prospects prefer fast responses. Additionally, sales rep response time is an indicator of engagement with the job. Reps who are fired up tend to respond quickly, and vice versa. However, note that doing well and having a lot of meetings can decrease sales rep response time, so be careful reading too much into it. Still, this is one data point that can pack in a lot of very useful information for the sales manager.
These four tips just scratch the surface of instilling a culture of data-driven sales management, but they illustrate how powerful such a culture can be for the performance-oriented sales manager. A data-driven approach to coaching can go a long way to helping teams save time and sell more.