Sales Performance Coaching: Communication Is Everything

Sales Conversation

Sales Performance Coaching: The 80/20 Rule Is Not Enough

The secret to ensuring every sales rep exceeds quota every time? Communication. And, for the first time, sales team leaders can measure every aspect of their reps’ skills during sales performance coaching sessions. Then, they use comprehensive data to drive lasting improvement—and measurable increase revenue.

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle). It’s thrown around a lot in business and entrepreneurial circles. It refers to the idea that, in any given initiative, 80 percent of your outcomes come from just 20 percent of your activities. 

Whether you’re looking at marketing efforts, professional development efforts, or even satisfaction in day-to-day life, just one-fifth of your actions are contributing four-fifths of your ROI. However, when applied to sales teams, 80/20 isn’t doing sales teams any good.

The 80/20 rule in this context is particularly stark. Let’s review in more detail:

  • Say you’ve got ten sales reps bringing in $500,000 per month. 
  • If the rule of thumb is that 20 percent of sales reps bring in 80 percent of the revenue, then your top two reps are hauling in about $400,000 a month by themselves.
  • Below them, maybe you’ve got six who are bringing in the next $90,000. 
  • The bottom two are struggling to find the last $10,000 between them.
  • The top two reps’ performance is stellar. But beyond that, it’s not exactly a pretty picture.

This is where data-supported sales performance coaching in communication skills could save the day and balance out this example for the better.

Related: Leveraging Interactive Sales Training Tools

Existing Methods to Balance out the Rule Haven’t Solved the Problem

As mentioned in the previous example, you have two reps bringing in $200,000 a month each. But what if every rep was bringing in that much? Bringing just three of the bottom 80 percent reps up to that high standard would double the overall revenue on our hypothetical sales team. Once all the reps hit that mark, you’ve quadrupled it.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that the key to increasing sales revenue is to identify what separates the top 20 percent from the rest and make sure every rep develops those critical skills?

A quick Google search for strategies to help low-performing reps improve yields pages and pages of advice, from books by Dale Carnegie and Stephen Covey to remedial training so they can more effectively get past “no.”

But how can team managers be sure the support they’re giving their reps will help them match the standard the top performers have set? An emphasis on communication is everything, proven to improve sales performance coaching. 

The Lynchpin for Sales Success: Communication

No matter how innovative a product or how revolutionary a service, a rep who can’t communicate its value won’t be able to sell it. And even more importantly, when reps are strong communicators, they can build a level of trust with prospects that leads to smooth sales, strong customer relationships, and buyers who become champions of the company. For poor communicators, on the other hand, closing deals is like pulling teeth, and the relationships they forge remain purely transactional. 

Sales leadership invests in a variety of tactics to improve effectiveness and focuses on general sales performance coaching sessions. But when reps actually get on the phone to talk to customers, it’s often a total black box. While most sales managers knows a rep who communicates well with clients when they see one, the ability to measure that effectiveness, much less train it, is highly lacking.

Consider a sales rep who is incredibly driven: they know the product inside and out, keep target buyers on the phone long after the first no, and never let a lost deal darken their mood. But they miss the quota every single month. On the surface, they’re doing everything right—their colleagues love working with them, and their accounts are consistently satisfied. But they’re just not bringing in any new business or able to upsell existing clients.

So what’s stopping them? Often the problem lies in the way they’re communicating with their prospects, and it’s not all just about what they’re saying. When we mirror a conversation partner’s gestures, posture, or language, we build powerful connections with one another. This is true in personal relationships, networking scenarios, and even sales.

H3: Related: The New Science of Training Sales Reps

Communication Sales Performance Coaching: Behaviors to Drive Success

When salespeople mirror customer behavior, they sell more products and foster more favorable opinions of their companies. The key to persuading anybody to buy what you’re selling is earning their trust and speaking their language.

Considering today’s virtual environment, where sales have to happen through a screen, one valuable communication sales skill is speaking confidently and effectively in front of the camera while sharing product information. Taking the time to learn industry terminology, technical terms, and accurate pronunciation is also necessary so that representatives avoid distractions and increase professionalism. 

Your representatives can convey enthusiasm to the prospect through their body language, even via a video conference screen. When trained to use dynamic facial expressions and positive body language, they make nods, smile, and show likable facial expressions. These are all signs of effective body language that demonstrates openness, commitment, and dedication. 

Because the camera needs always to be on, your representatives should not look into the client’s image on the screen; instead, they should practice looking straight at the camera to simulate in-person eye contact. Even these small details are critical abilities to develop during sales performance coaching sessions.

How Would our Low-Performers Benefit from a Communication-Based Coaching Process?

Your underperforming sales reps are likely using data to make their case, but their prospects are really looking for an emotional connection. Or it could be that the rapid clip of the rep’s voice is causing an already-hesitant buyer to falter. 

But effective sales performance coaching can teach them how to really listen to prospects. And when they listen, they get a deeper understanding of not only their personalities but their needs. They can, in turn, tailor their pitches to meet those needs, even if those needs weren’t explicitly stated. 

They can hook an emotionally driven buyer with a powerful story illustrating the product’s value or ramp up the data for targets who respond better to logical appeals. By slowing their speaking rate, they instantly exude confidence and inspire it in the buyer. 

What if this sales rep and the team could receive training to hear the subtle cues in the way prospects communicate, identify and eliminate the aspects of their own communication that are turning buyers off, and tailor their styles to mirror individual prospects’? 

With the proper sales performance coaching, they’d be masters at building lasting, trust-based relationships and communicating the value of their product or service in a way that truly resonates with every potential buyer. Soon, the low performers on the team would rise through the ranks and join the top 20 percent. 

And with everyone on the sales team bringing in six revenue figures per month—from loyal, satisfied customers—the 80/20 rule would become a distant memory as what used to be a middle-of-the-road enterprise sales team becomes world-class.

Artificial Intelligence Gives Sales Performance Coaching a Boost

Artificial intelligence is providing unprecedented data, much of which is predictive to give sales leaders the upper hand. Quantified is a sales coaching platform that leverages AI, behavioral science and a massive database of human-scored communications to give sales leaders science-based and data-driven insights.

With this data, coaches can align sales team members’ quotas with personalized sales performance coaching programs. The technology helps coaches and reps better understand verbal and non-verbal communications that engage customers, increase trust, and improve customer satisfaction. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Quantified can use communication analytics to help your sales reps meet their quota every time, generate better conversations, and better outcomes, request a demo now.