This is what sales leaders need to focus on to achieve next-level results

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Sales leaders are often looking for ways to increase sales quickly – How can we get more sales this quarter? What can we do that has an impact now? New research provides answers that sales leaders can put into practice today.

In a survey of more than 1,000 salespeople and sales managers that analyzed the skills and behaviors of the highest-performing salespeople and sales managers—those who are more likely to hit quotas, have higher win rates, and maintain premium prices—we identified the areas where top performers differ significantly from the rest.

For starters, the average proposal win rate between the two groups is dramatically different. Top performers achieve an average win rate of 72% compared to 47% seen by the rest. As we shared before, small changes in win rate can lead to big changes in your revenue.

Think about your pipeline forecast for the quarter. Even a few percentage points difference in win rate is often the difference between making or exceeding a quota – or falling short.

So, what can you do to increase your chances of hitting your target? Look at your sales coaching. Pay particular attention to the frequency with which salespeople are coached, the skills of sales managers around coaching and the type of coaching that salespeople receive.

Related: Why More Sales Leaders Are Turning To Sales Coaching

Frequency of sales coaching

Our research found that top-performing salespeople and sales teams are 1.5x more likely to receive coaching on a regular, ongoing schedule. In addition, salespeople who receive regular coaching report higher skills across the board — from discovering needs to creating solutions, building relationships, fostering sales, negotiating, prospecting, growing accounts, virtual selling and more.

Sales management and coaching skills

Top performing sales team managers are more likely to excel in these five areas:

  1. Motivate salespeople for high productivity and performance: Surprisingly, not only is this the #1 sales management and coaching skill that top performers excel at, but it’s also the #1 that sets the top performers apart from the rest. Motivating sales teams for productivity and performance is an area that has received little attention in the sales world. But helping salespeople and sales managers maximize their productivity is closely linked to peak performance. The teams of top-performing sales managers score significantly higher on all nine productivity behaviors and skills surveyed than other managers. They get the most done, stay focused, change their habits, are less likely to be distracted, manage their time well and conserve their energy.

  2. Helping salespeople solve problems and challenges: With regular, ongoing coaching, managers are more likely to discover and help solve salespeople’s challenges. Sometimes it’s that simple.

  3. To coach salespeople to grow accounts: More about this below.

  4. Leading valuable one-on-one coaching conversations: Top performing sales managers are adept at leading successful coaching meetings. They have these conversations at a regular pace and their conversations have a greater impact. Imagine you have a manager who meets with you occasionally or on a set schedule, and if they do, the coaching is irrelevant and adds little to no value. That is not very motivating (see point 1). Yet this happens in most sales organizations.

  5. Coach salespeople to build sales skills: Forty-one percent of top-performing sales managers focus on developing sales skills. Sales managers must develop salespeople’s knowledge, skills, and attributes to improve short- and long-term performance. And the top-performing salespeople agree: They are 83% more likely to rate their managers as extremely or highly effective in helping them achieve strong sales performance.

Related: Building a World-Class Sales Team

Coaching on different skills

A lot of coaching focuses on deal coaching – what we can do to accelerate this deal, win this opportunity, advance a sale, etc. While deal coaching is critical and should be done on a regular basis, top performing sales managers excel too focuses on other key coaching areas:

  • Growing accounts: Coaching to grow accounts also represents one of the biggest differences between top performers and the rest. According to Gartner, account growth is often a top priority for CEOs and CSOs. Yet the same report notes that most civil society organizations agree that their current key account strategies and approaches fall short. A key account program with regular account growth coaching and holding sales reps accountable for their account growth plans can help.

  • Leading masterful sales conversations: Sales are won and lost based on the conversations sellers have with buyers. With ongoing coaching, managers can dramatically improve salespeople’s conversational skills.

  • Virtual sales: Over the past two years, virtual has become the norm. And in the future, hybrid sales will dominate. The best managers have coached their salespeople, helping them adapt to the virtual environment and overcome the challenges of virtual selling.

Related: 10 Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Sales Leader Role

Top performing sales managers are more likely to coach their salespeople to succeed. To boost your sales this quarter (and in the long run), look no further than the sales coaching your salespeople receive. Establish a regular, ongoing rhythm of coaching between managers and their sales teams, ensure sales managers are proficient in leading one-on-one coaching meetings, and ensure they are proficient in coaching across skill areas.

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