B2B companies launch thousands of new products every year. Chances are, you’ve already launched one, or you will before year end.
Perhaps you’ve experienced a common launch challenge: Getting your reps to sell it quickly. This post is about how to drive new product success through sales coaching.
Download the Coaching for Results Case Study. Learn how a $6B company used a better approach to get results.
A Common Approach
Many companies enable sales to sell new products in some form of the following:
- Training curriculum is developed to train reps to sell the new product
- A training event is conducted (at sales kickoff, or maybe regionally)
- Reps are sent on their way to go sell the new product
Studies have shown people forget 70-80% of training content 30 days after training events. Your reps won’t retain information about the new product. You pull everyone out of the field, disrupt productivity and miss the goal.
This happens because there is a vital step missing in this approach: Coaching.
Sales adoption doesn’t happen in the classroom. It happens in the field. And it doesn’t happen by itself. It has to be driven by your front line sales leaders. In order to do this successfully, they need an execution plan.
3 Steps to Sales Coaching
There are 3 steps to sales management coaching:
- Get Feedback
Much like the event, your managers won’t simply be ready to just start coaching. This requires preparation and communication.
Here are several items to consider:
- What are your goals of the coaching program? This includes both metrics and desired behavior changes. Examples are:
–Number of new product sales calls manager attend with each rep
–Leading indicators like new product opportunities created, or deal advances
- How do you want your sales managers to spend their time
- How much time gets spent with A/B/C players?
- What coaching activities should be conducted (virtual, in person, etc.)?
- How much time should managers spend on the new product?
- How often should these activities be conducted? Daily? Weekly?
- What is the plan to communicate progress about new product sales?
- How will communication take place?
- What additional information/training will be communicated about the new product?
- Will it happen on calls? Meetings? Email or on social platforms?
A final point to consider is how this gets introduced to your sales leaders. They’ve got to know what the expectations are in order to succeed. You’ll need a rollout meeting with everyone in attendance.
You’ve established and communicated your coaching goals. Now, your leaders need to do it. This is the most important phase, as it’s all about execution. Some examples you might consider to help your team:
What deficient areas should sales managers look for? Here are examples of gaps they might look for with their reps:
- Not connecting buyer problems to the new product
- Struggle to explain the difference between your product and the competitor’s
- Cannot overcome the buyer’s statement of “doing nothing”
What action should the manager take to improve performance? Can the manager articulate a clear action plan to his/her reps? Examples of progress here are:
- Together, rep and manager set clear actions and timelines for improvement
- Dates are set to close the loop on the improvement areas
- Behaviors are changing in live sales calls
What tools are at the manager’s disposal for coaching? Consider a few of the following job aids:
- Field ride along evaluations
- Guidance for setting action items
- Managing rep resistance
If this phase succeeds, real change will happen in your sales force. Your managers now know what to look for. They have guidance on how to take action. And, they have tools to help them make it happen.
You’ve set the objectives of your coaching program with your leaders. They’ve spent time in the field working with reps on development and actions. So what happened? This phase is about summarizing the following:
- How’d you do? – Measure the results of the initiative
- What changed? – Key learnings from the managers and reps
- What next? – Recommendations for future improvement
This is the closed-loop portion of your coaching process that shows you what happened. Because you Prepared, you can tie results back to your objectives. Your managers Executed, so you know what worked best. You can look back to the interactions, tools used and action taken. From here, you can take away the positives and improve upon the negatives.
Sales coaching will increase your chances of success when launching new products. Following these 3 steps will help you:
- Establish clear and obtainable goals for your team
- Provide them tools and guidance to execute in the field
- Deliver feedback and results to improve each time
See how a $6B company improved their results using this approach. Check out the Coaching for Results Case Study.