Expanding Sales Managers’ Coaching Skill Set

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Case Summary

The client was the financial and risk division of a top-tier, $13 billion leader of the financial software market. Customers that used their solutions knew more and made smarter decisions about the companies in which they invested – through more accurate analytics and valuation, financial news, and information on cross-asset class indices. The company touched every facet of the global financial markets: commodities, equities, fixed income, foreign exchange, hedge funds, investment banking, investment management, research and trading, venture capital and private equity, and emerging markets. The company wanted its sales managers to coach their sales people consistently and regularly, and engaged the Symmetrics Group to up-skill the first-level sales manager team.

Business Challenge

The division had a pool of extremely talented and smart sales professionals, many of whom had been promoted through the ranks of the organization and now managed their own sales teams. They faced a challenge common to many sales organizations: their sales managers had not been trained to coach their front-line sales people. Given the global and virtual nature of most sales teams, simply modeling good behavior was not cascading effectively to the front line. The amount of admin work with which sales managers were tasked also limited the amount of time they could allocate to sales coaching and development.

Symmetrics Group Approach

  • Sales Management: Symmetrics Group’s goal was to provide coaching opportunities “in the moment”, when a manager could coach the sales person in real time for the maximum learning. Working with the Sales Enablement team and top sales managers throughout the company, Symmetrics Group identified the eight skill areas that required the most coaching attention: pipeline and forecasting, territory planning, account planning, opportunity management, pre-sales call prep, sales call execution, trials, and renewals. Each “coaching moment” first diagnosed the sales rep’s competency, from learning to mastering. Then we gave the manager steps to advance the rep’s skill level (based on current competency), trends to watch out for, and best practices and existing tools that managers could use to quickly up-skill their teams.
  • Sales Coaching Skills: Knowing that tools and coaching were not enough to develop sales talent, Symmetrics Group used the coaching moments to facilitated Coaching and Leadership sessions for first-level sales managers in the US and Europe. We also led train-the-trainer sessions for the sales manager audiences in Asia and Australia. These highly-interactive, day-long sessions gathered a cross-functional set of sales managers to discuss and workshop how the coaching moments could be applied to their teams in the short and long term. Managers walked away with a personal action plan that guided their coaching and development efforts for the next quarter.

Results

We worked with more than 100 front line sales leaders through experiential sessions to develop and practice their ability to apply coaching concepts to key selling moments. In each session, sales leaders indicated that this was the most relevant and valuable sales training that they have attended.

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