The Data: What Percentage of Salespeople are Really Coachable?


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Dennis Connelly, Derek Baer and I were sharing our experiences coaching salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders, and comparing those who were and weren’t coachable.  It wasn’t personal.  It wasn’t about whether we liked them as people.  It was about those who did or did not make changes and improve.

When it comes to coaching up salespeople, there are many conditions that must be met.

Let’s begin with the coaching environment itself.

  • Salespeople must have a relationship with their sales manager that is strong enough to withstand constructive criticism
  • Salespeople must trust their sales manager’s intentions
  • Salespeople must respect their sales manager’s coaching

If those three conditions are in place, we have an environment that is conducive to coaching but in order to make a difference, sales managers must be effective and consistent with their coaching.  The data from Objective Management Group’s (OMG) assessment of 2.5 million sales professionals shows that sales managers who coach consistently realize a 28% increase in revenue from their coachable salespeople and when they are also effective with their coaching, the revenue increase is 43%.  Unfortunately, only 7% of all sales managers have the capabilities to coach effectively and consistently.

Next, let’s look at the salespeople.

OMG provides a score for Coachable, however, out of the 250 or so data points that OMG provides, Coachable is the one finding that requires some nuance.

On its face, salespeople may respond to coaching in any of these ways:

  • They agree with the coaching and apply it to their selling (score of 100 on Coaching)
  • They agree with the coaching but don’t apply it to their selling (score 75 on Coaching)
  • They disagree with the coaching and don’t apply it to their selling (score of 0-25 on Coaching)
  • They disagree with the coaching but apply it to their selling anyway. (score of 25-50 on Coaching)

The following Sales Core Competencies provide additional nuance on the degree to which a salesperson is coachable:

  • Relationship Building – When sales managers and salespeople both have Relationship Building as a strength, they can protect each other’s feelings as they proceed through a coaching conversation.  When one or both has Relationship Building as a weakness, the relationship may not withstand constructive criticism and reactions.
  • Doesn’t Need Approval – When salespeople score 100 on this Core Competency, they don’t have any need to be liked, and can come across as arrogant and unkind, especially if their Relationship Building score is less than 50. In the context of being coached, a sales manager may find the salesperson being nasty, but when the salesperson’s score is less than 75, and they need to be liked, they may patronize their sales manager.  In an ideal world, the salesperson needs their sales manager to like them  and an ideal score on this competency would be 88.  Turning the tables, when sales managers need salespeople to like them, sales managers may fail to provide truthful coaching, fearing that salespeople won’t like them if they provide constructive criticism.  When the sales manager scores 100 on Doesn’t Need Approval, and they have Relationship Building as a weakness, their coaching may come across as overly critical, causing salespeople to run from coaching.
  • Responsibility – When salespeople score 100 on this Core Competency, they are more likely to follow through on changes they agree to.  The lower their Responsibility score is, the more likely it is that if change fails to materialize, they could make an excuse to justify the lack of action.

We have discussed whether or not salespeople are coachable, but we haven’t yet discussed if they are trainable.  While coaching is private, training is more public as it usually takes place in front of others.  Salespeople who have the greatest incentive to change are those who are the most trainable.  Those salespeople have high scores in Desire for additional sales success and Commitment to additional sales success.  When a salesperson scores below 60 on Desire and/or Commitment, you aren’t likely to see much of a change in their effectiveness or performance.  If they are already generating acceptable results and more of the same would be OK, then it doesn’t matter.  On the other hand, if their performance is lacking, and more of the same would not be acceptable, then a salesperson lacking Desire/Commitment would be a great candidate for replacement.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies and most include several attributes.  You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here, look at the scoring ranges, select your industry, and even see how salespeople at your company compare.

It can be difficult to fully comprehend the implications of Coachable and Trainable but it isn’t possible to set proper expectations without understanding how these Sales Core Competencies tie together.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.


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