How Technology is Affecting the Domain of Sales Coaching Among SMEs?


Sales Management is all about coaching. Business Owners are very much like a professor teaching team mates and watching them develop. You have an expectation that everyone from your team will improve each month. Sales Coaching helps to bring out the best in the sales team.

The question every business leader often asks is how do we motivate people to do their best because they “want to” rather than doing only what they “have to”?  How to elicit extraordinary effort from the team?

Without effective performance management and coaching, you won’t experience continuous improvement in the productivity among the team.

What is Performance Management?

An entrepreneur practicing performance management tries to influence the behavior of the team.

You want your team to do either of these 3 things if they are showcasing poor performance:

  1. You either want your team members to do the same things more frequently or
  2. You want them to stop or reduce doing few of the same things that they have been doing or
  3. You want your team members to do new things.

How do you diagnose the right skill to work on?

Just making time for coaching isn’t enough. You must also coach the right way.

Which means you will coach on one skill at a time and not try to do too much at once.

Companies hire people because what needs to be done requires people to do it. Behavior of the people is the only way anything is accomplished.

Bringing out the best in people and achieving measurable superior results requires a clear and precise understanding of human behavior.

Yet most managers understand the laws of human behavior at about the same level as they understand the laws of gravity. They know that gravity keeps them on earth and not to walk on the top of a tall building. But they don’t know enough to send astronauts to the moon and bring them back.

When you work with other human beings, you are subject to the laws of behavior.

So the behavior of the team member should be aligned with the goals.

But how do you know which behavior to zero in?

Well, you need to heavily lean on data. Each rep has different strengths and weaknesses. You need to precisely identify where each needs coaching.

Let us elucidate this with an example. Supposingly an inside sales rep has a target to fix 10 new appointments with potential customers.

You know that this goal can be achieved if the following behaviors are in place.

  1. He has to research 400 prospects on LinkedIn to list out 100 right fit prospects. ( Right fit means reaching out to similar kinds of prospects who are presently a customer).
  2. Customizing the emails that are meant to be sent to the prospects.
  3. Keeping a record of all the emails sent.
  4. Keeping a record on when to follow up next if they don’t reply.
  5. Dialing 30 cold prospects a day.
  6. Follow up those who agreed for the demo and then he didn’t show up.

Now if the behavior of properly researching is ineffective or they are researching less than 400 profiles, the rep will miss the goal of fixing 10 appointments. So on it continues for each of the activities.

Creating this list of behaviors matched with the daily goals is one of the key components of performance management.

To obtain measurable superior results in the workplace , managers must understand why people behave as they do with the same depth that rocket scientists understand gravity. There is about 80 years of research in human behavior. The application of these research findings to the work place is called performance management or behavior analysis.

When an entrepreneur wants to improve certain business parameters like quality, creativity etc , it must ask people to change their behavior. People must then either do the same things they are doing more or less often, or do different things.

Why is it important to work on one behavior at a time?

You will have to hold the temptation of trying to work on too much at once.  This doesn’t work.

In fact you need to work on one bad behavior and convert it into a good behavior and make that good behavior a habit for the rep.

Or you need to develop one new good behavior among the team and make that a habit for the rep.

It is not possible to create too many good habits in a span of 30 to 45 days. Hence it is always recommended to work on one skill or behavior gap until it becomes a good habit.

If you don’t work on habit creation then every time you will be busy in improving the same behavior gap and can’t progress ahead to new gaps.

What to do once you’ve identified one behavior gap?

Most entrepreneurs when they see someone put in extraordinary effort, they  often ask “ Why did the person do that?” Many of them feel the answer lies in what happened before the behavior occurred. They feel that behavior was caused because -he was motivated by some drive, internal force, need or desire.

But  an expert behavioral trained business owner , on the other hand, would respond  , “ A person does that because what happens to the person after the behavior is done.”

Which means the cause of the behavior doesn’t reside on the conditions prior to the behavior , but in what happens after the behavior.

This is very helpful because that means you don’t need to read minds or try to figure people out.

In order to understand team mates, you just need to witness the behavior being performed and observe the consequences of the behavior.

Psychologists study the mind, behavior analysts study behavior and learn how to optimize desirable behaviors.

Hence you need not to bother on what goes on your teammate’s mind. What goes on in other people’s mind is, none of your business.

You rather break down the business goals to a set of behaviors and then watch the behavior gap of each rep from what is required from them as per job description.

How do you train each of the reps?

We often try to train by telling people what to do.

And if they don’t abide by, we try to tell the same louder and louder.

A behavior analyst knows that this doesn’t work.

He also knows why it doesn’t work.

Doesn’t the below phrases sound familiar.

“It would really help if we research 400 potential prospects per day.”

“ How many times do I have to tell you to research 400 potential customers per day?”

“ I’m getting tired of telling you about prospect research?”

“ This is the last time I’m telling you. If you miss now, you’re fired.”

People often don’t do what they are told.  Why?

I repeat what I have said earlier as well:

“ But  an expert behavioral trained business owner , on the other hand, would respond  , “ A person executes a behavior because what happens to the person after the behavior is done and not before.”

Telling is something which happens before the behavior occurs.

If we always did what we are told, then we would have not been smoking or been regular to gyms and always eat healthy food.

Even though we know people don’t do what they are told, we run our businesses telling people what to do.

There are only two ways to change a behavior of a person :

  1. Do something before the behavior occurs ( Telling or ordering).
  2. Do something after the behavior occurs (reprimand and appreciation).

The role of telling is to get the behavior to occur once.

The role of  appreciation after the behavior occurs is to get the behavior to occur again and again.

The role of  reprimand after the behavior occurs is to stop a behavior.

How do you plan a performance management?

Let’s take an example of an employee Rajib.

As the manager monitors the activity reports of Rajib in the CRM system , the manager finds that Rajib has been dialing only 5 potential customers per day.

So the 1st step to the scientific method to manage performance is to ask :

  • What do we want to improve?

The manager finds that the answer is to increase the dials to 30 prospects in a day in the next 30 days.

The manager knows that :

  1. Appreciation increases a behavior.
  2. Reprimand stops a behavior.

The manager also knows that if Rajib is put into the exercise of dialing 30 prospects per day for 30 to 45 days, it will become a habit of Rajib to dial 30 prospects daily.

Once it becomes a habit it will not need any further push.

So he decides the appreciation plan as per the situations that occur in the sales floor:

  • Situation 1: Rajib has made 7 calls but none of the potential customers are interested in the product and services.

This is the time the manager wants to appreciate Rajib with the following message:

“Good to see that you have not stopped cold calling even after so many rejections. That is a mark of success Rajib. Keep it up. From Neha.”

  • Situation 2 : It has been 45 minutes and Rajib has not dialed any prospects.

This is the time the manager wants to reprimand Rajib with the following message:

“Are you in a bad mood? Are you let off? You have neither dialled  nor emailed nor messaged enough prospects. Work is an essential block of our life. It is our identity in society. Our parents feel proud of us, because of our work. Let’s take a 5 min break and bounce back to work with full energy.”

  • Situation 3 : Rajib got his first interested prospect of the day.

Now the manager will want to appreciate his team member:

“This is your first interested lead of today. Great going and my best wishes. You must enjoy this moment. You must feel excited & heroic about yourself. From Neha.”

Modern day managers use the combination of appreciation and reprimand to get the desired behaviors needed from the team.

They chart out a plan to focus on one behavior gap in the next 30 days.

How CRM technology can help in Sales Coaching?

It is not possible for an entrepreneur to be available everywhere at the same time.

Let’s suppose he has 5  team members.

Each of the team members will have their own behavior gaps.

Each of them has to be appreciated and reprimanded based on the actual situation.

Coaching has to be tailored to each individual rep.

This becomes impossible for the business owner to execute.

Modern day technology can help you to rescue this.

A platform that reads your telephone and email lines.

It knows which team member is doing what now, and for the past x hours.

Where the manager can configure the messages and can set the triggers.

Now the technology reads the situations and triggers the message automatically to the sales rep and also sends a copy to the manager.

Technology helps business leaders to manage behaviour effectively at the workplace.

Imagine a workplace where each team member stands excited about work.

Their day to day activities are aligned with the business goals.

Every month they are filling their skills gap and advancing ahead.

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