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Here's What Sales Leaders Need to Focus on to Achieve Next-Level Results New research from 1,000+ sellers and sales managers reveals what sales leaders can put into practice today to increase sales results.

By Andy Springer Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sales leaders are frequently looking for ways to increase sales fast — How can we get more sales this quarter? What can we do that will have an impact now? New research provides answers that sales leaders can put into practice today.

In a study of 1,000+ sellers and sales managers that analyzes the skills and behaviors of top-performing sellers and sales managers — those who are more likely to achieve quota, have higher win rates and maintain premium pricing — we identified the areas where top performers significantly differ from the rest.

To start, 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've shared before, small changes in win rate can lead to big changes in your top line.

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

So, what's one thing you can do to improve your chances of hitting your target? Look at your sales coaching. Specifically, look at the frequency sellers are coached, the skills of sales managers around coaching and the type of coaching sellers receive.

Related: Why More Sales Leaders Are Focusing on Sales Coaching

Sales coaching frequency

Our research found that top-performing sellers and sales teams are 1.5x more likely to receive coaching on a regular, ongoing schedule. Furthermore, sellers who get coached regularly report higher skills across the board — from needs discovery to solution crafting, building relationships, advancing the sale, negotiating, prospecting, growing accounts, virtual selling and more.

Sales management and coaching skills

Managers of top-performing sales teams are more likely to excel in these five areas:

  1. Motivating sellers for high productivity and performance: It's surprising that not only is this the No. 1 sales management and coaching skill top performers excel at, but it's also the No. 1 most separating top performers from the rest. Motivating sales teams for productivity and performance is an area that has received little attention in the sales world. Yet, helping sellers and sales managers be maximally productive is highly correlated with top performance. The teams of top-performing sales managers are significantly more likely to score higher on all nine productivity behaviors and skills studied versus other managers. They get the most done, stay focused, change their habits, are less likely to be distracted, manage their time well, and sustain their energy.

  2. Helping sellers solve problems and challenges: With regular, ongoing coaching, managers are more likely to uncover sellers' challenges and can help to solve them. Sometimes, it's that simple.

  3. Coaching sellers to grow accounts: More on this one below.

  4. Leading valuable one-on-one coaching meetings: Top-performing sales managers are skilled at leading successful coaching meetings. They hold these conversations on a regular cadence, and their conversations have a greater impact. Imagine having a manager who meets with you intermittently or on no regular schedule, and when they do, the coaching isn't relevant and adds little to no value. That's not very motivating (see point 1). Yet, this is what happens in most sales organizations.

  5. Coaching sellers to build selling skills: Forty-one percent of top-performing sales managers focus on building sellers' skills. Sales managers need to develop seller knowledge, skills and attributes to improve performance in the short- and long-term. And top-performing sellers agree: They're 83% more likely to rate their managers as extremely or very effective at helping them achieve strong sales performance.

Related: How to Build a World Class Sales Team

Coaching to a variety of skills

Much coaching focuses on deal coaching — what we can do to accelerate this deal, to win this opportunity, to push a sale forward, etc. While deal coaching is critical and should be done on a regular rhythm, top-performing sales managers also excel in other key coaching areas:

  • Growing accounts: Coaching to grow accounts also represents one of the largest 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 CSOs agree their current key account strategies and approaches are falling short. A key account program that includes regular coaching around account growth and holding sellers 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 help drastically improve sellers' sales conversation skills.

  • Virtual selling: For the past two years, virtual has become the norm. And moving forward, hybrid selling will dominate. The best managers have coached their sellers, helping them adapt to the virtual environment and overcome the challenges virtual selling presents.

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

Top-performing sales managers are more likely to coach their sellers to succeed. To boost your sales this quarter (and in the long-term), look no further than the sales coaching your sellers receive. Set a regular, ongoing rhythm of coaching between managers and their sales teams, ensure sales managers are skilled in running one-on-one coaching meetings, and ensure they're skilled at coaching across different skill areas.

Andy Springer

Chief Client Officer at RAIN Group

Andy Springer is co-author of the bestseller "Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate, and Win Sales Remotely" and Chief Client Officer of RAIN Group, a global sales training company helping clients improve sales results through training, coaching, and reinforcement.

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