Sales Coaching Is Pivotal to Win More in a Post-Pandemic World

By Mert Yentur, CEO, Pitcher
Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C written out and stacked on top of each other, with plans A and B crossed out.

Now that the post-pandemic workplace is starting to normalize, the B2B sales journey is undergoing a number of transitions. Enterprises had already been shifting from a traditional buying model in favor of one including more voices and evaluating value from different angles. According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a B2B solution has moved from a single purchaser to a group of six to 10 decision makers.

The transition hasn’t been seamless, however. In fact, more than two-thirds of those buying groups describe the purchasing process as very complex or difficult. Reps trying to accommodate found that traditional methods like generic slide presentations and mass-produced collateral weren’t proving effective. Instead, they were finding customer engagement lacking, and struggling to create advocates across many departments within a complex buying team. And, especially for younger generations – both buyers and sellers – who have been shaped by the immediacy and personalization of digital platforms like Google, YouTube, TikTok, and more, the traditional sales model seems especially slow and anachronistic.

Add in COVID-19 and the resultant shift to digital models, and the pressure on sales reps to adjust increases sharply. McKinsey quantified the shift from traditional models to digital over the past year, reporting that companies said revenue from in-person visits dropped 55%, whereas revenue driven by digital interaction with sales reps jumped by nearly 70%. With enterprises now seeing clear benefits from a digital model, companies are committed to it – especially given that it removes geographical barriers for reps while simultaneously lowering (or eliminating entirely) the cost of in-person visits.

But how prepared are sales teams and how well are they preparing reps for success in a digital-first sales landscape? There’s certainly room for improvement. CSO Insights reports that, despite the critical nature of sales coaching, most organizations (62.9%) leave coaching up to individual managers or offer coaching guidelines that, while they may exist, they aren’t necessarily followed or implemented.

It’s not just a matter of supporting sales teams; a lack of coaching means leaving money on the table. One recent survey found that 67% of B2B companies that have put a formal sales coaching program in place for at least three years have experienced high revenue growth.

If you’re navigating the shifting terrain of B2B sales and want to ensure your team is trained and prepped for success, consider these three coaching values to get you there.

Make Data Visible and Accessible
Decades of vertical-specific industry experience at big corporations is good, but it doesn’t replace data-driven insights that can help teams iterate on what’s successful and what’s not. Especially now that virtual visits are part of the new normal, data is what can provide acute detail into transactions to better trigger coaching processes and better target feedback.

  • Look for solutions that give instant insight into interactions and historical trends, but that can also provide visibility into trends across your entire sales force (e.g., what content customers are engaging with the most, what resources are being ignored, and what communication tools lead to highest conversion).
  • Make it easy and quick for reps to capture and report data by streamlining the process and giving managers a centralized hub for viewing rep progress.

Data can’t replace soft skills entirely, but leveraging it across your entire organization can lead to field force effectiveness that can’t be achieved through relationships alone.

Use History to Inspire Goal Setting
It’s no secret that arming field reps with solutions that set them up for success translates into individual investment in their own growth and their intrinsic motivation toward mastery. But maintaining and reaching established goals is easier to do when sales managers, trainers, and peers are equally invested in their success.

  • Deploy a data-driven approach that allows for targeted and effective goal setting while also giving acute insight into progress – whether that’s capturing observations from the field, transferring best practices, or providing instant feedback on action plan items, objectives, coaching guides, and more.
  • Make sure you have a coaching plan in place with specifics including baseline measurements, articulated and measurable goals, and regular check-ins.

Personalize Your Sales Coaching Approach
As we saw earlier, much of sales coaching isn’t the kind of methodical, iterative, and effective process that can be easily replicated or organized. For better sales readiness:

  • Create a common coaching model and equip reps with tools that make interactions easy for them to navigate.
  • Instead of a briefcase full of brochures, find digital-first solutions that allow them to customize content easily.
  • In addition to generic coaching mandates, offer virtual personalized coaching based on individual reps’ data. Build an always-available training portal that reps can navigate on their own schedule when it works best for them.
  • Most importantly, don’t make their job complicated when it doesn’t have to be. Streamline technologies so they don’t have to constantly learn new applications or new processes.

Modern B2B buyers do not have patience to wait for solutions to demonstrate their worth – they expect the rep to deliver value fast. This means unique and ready answers to sticky questions. A digital-first approach to coaching offers enterprises the opportunity to prepare sales and marketing teams for the next-gen demands of today’s B2B buyers and the new hybrid workplace in which they work. Businesses can maximize coaching with a laser focus on what’s working – and what’s not – down to each individual sales rep. The model doesn’t just improve the lives of reps; it leads to better customer engagement and better results.

Mert Yentur is the founder and CEO of Pitcher, creator of the SuperApp – a unified, end-to-end mobile sales enablement and content management platform.