How Top-Performing Sales Managers Coach Differently

November 12, 2019

Sara Howshar

So you’re a sales leader tasked with building out a new team. If you’re like me, you probably join starry-eyed and ready to introduce the “best sales process ever.” You spend time getting to know customers, hire your people, and stay up all night refining the pitch.

In the early days, you’ve got time to coach, and you obsess over it.

Sales leaders live to onboard their first hires.

Discovery is one of your favorite things to coach - and - “the most important part of the process!”

To bring it to life, you slap prospects’ LinkedIn pictures on slides so you can preach about personalization and qualification. You share some of your favorite engaging questions and maybe even invite customers in to let reps get to know them over wine.

It works! Suddenly pipeline builds and reps start pulling you onto calls for support. For most sales leaders, 60% of those calls will take place in late-stages, such as negotiation or procurement calls.

You know. The fun ones.

The ones that aren’t discovery calls.

Sound familiar?

The Thing Is: Top sales leaders use discovery to coach differently #

Rather than focus on late-stages, they spend 63% of their time coaching on discovery calls, and their teams see a 30% higher win rate.

But why does coaching on discovery calls work so well? #

Let’s explore what we know intuitively (but rarely practice) when we’re coaching our sales teams.

Discovery call coaching is THE best way to develop widely applicable sales skills #

Reps need to do discovery throughout the entire sales process. There’s almost always more they can learn about the customer, their buying process, and ongoing organizational change.

Top managers don’t let skill-based coaching fall to the wayside in favor of deal-coaching, which doesn’t scale.

Closed Won deals involve more discovery. Period. #

Discovery tends to take place over two calls. Deals are also more likely to close if another teammate joins a reps’ discovery call, such as a sales leader or engineer.

When you spend more time coaching on discovery calls, you help reps understand just how critical discovery is to revenue.

Top reps also tend to jump into a demo on discovery calls so this can be a good way to help them refine their product knowledge.

Discovery call coaching helps you identify educated prospects early on. #

One of the most important factors to consider when tailoring your sales narrative is your prospects’ level of education. Highly educated prospects do things like bring up discounts and competitors on early calls, but they are also more likely to buy from you.

Conversely, educated prospects get annoyed when reps pelt them with too many questions and fail to take control of calls.

Discovery call coaching helps reps get better at identifying educated prospects.

Discovery call coaching helps you cut bad deals fast. #

Bad deals. They’re the ones that should have been qualified out of the pipeline earlier on, but somehow got through, and now you’re stuck with them. The customer with just enough money who shouldn’t buy and can’t easily adopt or scale your technology.

Sure, you can try to scare them off in late-stages, but you’ve got a rep who has invested a ton of their time fighting to hold on. If you let these types of deals stick around, you’ll only hear more from Customer Success, and (more than likely) witness a drawn-out churn.

Coaching on more discovery calls helps you avoid this problem and get reps out of the habit of having happy ears.

In Sum: Coach Early, Coach Often #

It can be so easy to let discovery call coaching go — especially when there are so many deals to close! But don’t fall into this trap, and especially don’t get caught helping your reps close too many of their deals because you don’t scale. Building a repeatable process and developing reps’ core skills is the only way to truly grow your business. Investing in more discovery call coaching undoubtedly saves everyone a ton of time later on by teeing the deal up successfully the first time around. I’d say that’s the best kind of win — one for you, your reps, and your customers.

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