B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

63: Why Should You Invest in Sales Coaching? w/ Richard Smith


Like many sales reps, Richard Smith was thrown into the deep end in his first sales role as an SDR. Along the way, he developed his skills via trial and error, receiving little feedback on his performance.


Sure, he made it.


But he thought, “Wouldn’t I have made it sooner if someone had coached me?”


That driving thought has been the engine for confounding Refract — a sales coaching company that analyzes sales conversations and helps “unlock the black box” of those conversations so sales leaders can effectively coach their sales teams.


Richard came on the B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast to share some insights into how sales leaders and managers can rethink sales coaching.


What we talked about:

  • Sales leaders believe in coaching (but they still aren’t coaching)
  • Time & lack of training are the 2 reasons leaders don’t coach 
  • Sales leaders can utilize tech to save time & measure coaching
  • Tech supplements culture, but culture comes first
  • Tech saves time
  • Tech enables peer-to-peer coaching
  • Tech helps measure & track coaching


This is an interview with Richard Smith, Cofounder & Head of Sales at Refract.


To hear this interview, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

II think three quarters oforganizations will openly tell you that the fundamental role of of a salesmanager is to coach and improve their team on that basis. Why is the mostimportant function of a sales manager not getting the priority that itdeserves? You're, listening to be to B RevenueAcceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executives stay on thecutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry? Let's get into the show. I welcome to be to be a Revenou axseneration. My name is OA M T and mmer today, with Richards Ma Cofondoan ADOF,Sens, aste, frank, allow you to day rechard, I'm very well Arrelian and Yeureally appreciate you having me on your show very much looking forward to thediscussion and me too and me to becas hit's, a box, AIS Cotchi, and I lovehis caching lots of different methodologilas on different way to goabout it, but SOWAS aninteresting topic. But before we go to eters of theconversation Richan, would you man introducing yourself in a little bitmore detains as well as giving an idea of what your company refact dors foryour plants? Yeah? Certainly so yeah the one of the cofounders and the theheadofshills here refract, where UK Technology Company, based in NewcastleI've been in sales personally for about ten years, started off anstr straight out of Universy, reallywith in a situation like, I think most people find themselves Ayre, not reallyknowing what I wanted to do with my career and seemingly felt that my kindof behaviors and personality in kind of career desires were nicely aligned with the professionof sales. So I worked in the Software Brena all of my career so far, as Isaid, start as an SDR, literally picking the phoe up bookingappointments for sales, people of kind of progress and develop really doingalmost all parts of the salls process since then, and now of a very gratefulto have been founded a company and of had he chanceter to build out my ownsales organization here. I guess that the reason why we built refractas wasall, through my own personal experiences of trying to figure outthis whole sales thing along the way. The challenge that I had te Onor, myCareeri, is actually a challenge that I think is more universal. I seriouslybelieve that my success in sales has been very significantly hummered by thelack of coaching and development that I received early on of my career. Howmuch of my the early part of my career was was was really about, as I saydkind of figuring it figuring t all out by myself, making the mistakes andreally not benefiting from that continuous important feedback, amentorship from sales leadership. On on how I can improve, I think there's lotsof lots of challenges as to why that didn't take place, which I'm sure we'regoing to be going to get into that on the show. But this problem of salespeople not regularly being improved and not havingthe coaching that that's going to set them up for successis is a is a problembeing faced across the world and, I think, is a as a cause of many salespeople not hit in quote not star not staying around at their companies aslong as this should and ultimately the the impact that has on the bottom linefor any any business out there, yeah okay, that makes sense so so refetis is,is basically what is? Is it a comprattos siticocing? Is it automationWAT? What would you git to exactly yeah sure, so in a notshell, refractanalyzes conversations that sellers are having with their prospects andcustomers and really unlocks the black box of those conversations and servicevoluble insight to sales leadership, but maybe even wider across theorganization about what's happening in those conversations, the topics thatare being discussed, the comperiors...

...that are being mentioned, the questionsand objections that sill people are are facing and really surfacing that dataand making that more accessible for for sales leaderships. So they can have atighter grasp about which conversations they should be paying most attention to,but also leads sales leadership to coaching opportunities by pinpointingwhere those defining moments in those conversations are taking place andreally taking the heavy lifting out of what has been perceived as quite a timeconsuming task in sales managers really coaching and improving thoseconversations to have more successful outcomes. attake sense so so recently,cime across Bot of you, article, Richard and and thethasically statethat sens people will on coach twenty seven person more Liki to Mi Scol Thap,that's kind of a BU quarter or small cells than the one that have beengoughed. So what do you think? COMPANIE? Still? Don't se the value ininvestingin side? SCOSHIP? It's a great question and I think the key point: Thee Arallyin the keyword that you use sor freezes, don't see the value. Am It'sinteresting because when I speak, I spent my days speaking with salesleaders and sales managers, and I very rarely come across anybody who saysthat they don't see the value in coaching everybody. Everybody talksvery openly about that. They they know that their coaching is very valuable,that they should be doing it. They should be doing more of it and that theproblem is that there's one thing about seing, something and th's there'sanother thing about actually doing it, and the reality is, is that mostcompanies will point to the fact that coaching as such a valuable activitythat they know that it really moves the needle in their business. But when youactually look behind the scenes, the reality is that it's still nothappening or isn't happening as much or it's not as effective as as it shouldbe. So there's this big sort of diecoomy between what people are sayingwhat companies are saying. This is what's actually happening and we'reactually we're actually seeing this happen on the the sales rep level aswell. Where most sales people say they don'treceive any coaching whatsoever, yet their sales management are seeing theopposite that they're seen that they coach regularly. So I think actually alot of it is the fact that sales management, what they believe they'redoing as coaching as not being is not being seen as that by the actual silesthat ther there sales people there's a big disparity there, and I think thereasons why coaching is maybe not taking places is, if I'm going to bebrutally honest it it comes down to excuses. I'm not seying. Thoseexecusers are all nonvalid, but you know people who will say that it's atime consuming exercise. They don't know how to coach. They don't knowwhere to get started, and ultimately, all these things, I thinkare these things should be fixed. These are these excuses which can beaddressed, and I think when you, when you actually consider the the revenue impact that good, effectivequality coaching can have, then it's Companye should be Tho, be really usingless of those excuses and pay more attention to it. That makes sense thatmakes sense and Aoor Cusche ta want you to to twit hes aroune the managers.Actually, you spoke about the manager and, and we, when you manag, you SAR tiStev You'e good to manage a non, go you've goot to manage the people withboth you, you got to manage to people on the side of you s, Yo need to gowith your personne to wark with Pu yo C us here for you've got to walk, ismarketing Youwan need to wofk his finance, but you also ave to manageyour team and manage to number so in your expince Ote, of the main reasonswhy manager of cars or don't want to coach yeah. It's a big question to ask,and I think from what I see it: it fallsn't a two bookits. First of all,it's it's a perceived lack of time that theysee is a time consuming exercise and the other is that actually, themajority of sales managers get to that position because they were justactually really good sales people that they were high performers and by natureof them being hyperformers. They were...

...promoted to being sales managers, butactually the best. The best professionals don't always become thebest, the best coaches. You know we see this an the the world of football o thetime there's been some woll class cuport weelclass football es that havebeen at the top of their game that when they have given their trance their armo football management, they felspectacular an because it's it's not because they were actually that theywere actually put a football. As that that wasn't the case, it was just thatthey didn't have the skills and capabilities to be able to lead a teamand they're very too two very separate skills, and if I just address both ofthose individually so that the time aspect this one reallyfrustrate me, because it's not about a lack of time. It Ul actuallyit's,actually a lack of priotization. I think three quarters of organizationswill openly tell you that the fundamental role O of a sales manageris to coach and improve their team on that basis. Why is the most importantfunction of a sales manager not getting the priority that it deserves, and wehave to look at what are all the tasks that a managers doing? That's actuallystopping them that that is taking up their time, which is preventing themfrom doing that, really crucial activity and the real tis that managersare spending too much time. Looking at DASHBOARDS, they're looking at CRMS,they're looking at activity, metrics they're in meetings, you name itbuthey're being burdened down with all this essentially admin which has takenthem away from actually doing the things which is which are really goingto improve the performance and move the needle. You know, most managers will spend copis amountsof time, looking at stats and dashboards and talking about thosemetrics to their sales people yeah. They don't need to do that, becausethose metricks are actually openly available for sales people to seeanyway. You know I don't need to be told what my activity metricks wirllast week, because I can just log into the crm and actually see them. I don'tneed my monaget. Tell me tell me those things. What what I want for my manageris. I want my manager to to say: Okay, you know you close less deals last weekor you boot less meetings last week than than your peers. You, actually youactually made the similar mount of calls or you know, you've got a similaramount of pipeline and I want t understand well how come this personover there is actually t. What is he doing differently in his conversationsand what does he? What is what the behaviors that he has that that'smaking him more successful, and this is what Curchin should be. It should beanalyzing the why this is the actual, the actual outcome, so I thinkultimators about priritization. I think- and I think that stems from the topdownas well- Arelian thin. I think I'm talking about the seat, the Sea Sueithere an activity which drives the needle so significantly as as coachingthere should be. The topdown should be actually telling their managers. Youneed to find time in your calendars to to be Tote to coaching and we're goingto make sure that's prioritized. So that's that's kind of covers off bookat number. One you KNO aathing, but the second boog. It was around managers,not knowing how it occuach- and this is maybe a bigger issue and a very muchmore real issue and real excuse. Because coaching is not a skill thateverybody just learns overnight. You have to be trained how to COT. You haveto learn how to give feeback in the right way. You need to know who youshould be spending most time, coaching in your sales team and again, I think alot of managers are just promote to those positions and they're. Just toldokay go ahead and coach and improve your team, but they don't know where tobegin, and I think companies need to de take more sturitly about enabling theirmanagers giving them the tools and the the education on how it to actuallycoach their rips, and I think when we do that, managers get more confidentabout coaching and they get more serious about one to do it too. Yeahthat makes sense and followhe first fol, the faster ement of of Youryong. so Oyour previous question. How would you think the use of technology is actuallychanging? The sense cocing, the management of resources, O youthink it's actually confusing things. Do you think it's somthing, becausethere is always at that saying of ether,...

...give a fish to a man every day and youwill come back to day afdoesn't the day. Oftor O have a fish, you know from youor teaching out to fish and it will become a fisial Maan. You can go whenthey will with em tat. So do you think technology can actually end you to notjust give you the nombers and give you thats, but also, if you the fundamentalas to the Wi, you could share what needs to be done. What needs to becautious so basically doing the Adelisis geting, the number reallyunderston he areas of improvement art is that eclogiat actually do that andyou think the ad so and you think that the deployed sufficiently to support toSugo sense leaders yeah. It's a good question. I think before we look at thetechnology, we have to just make sure that the culture is right in a business,because if the culture isn't right, the technology is just not going to bevalued is not going to be used. So companies have to make sure thatthey've actually got that culture of coaching. That they've got people inthe business who want a coach who who want to improve PR sales people, andthey have to also have a culture again from the top down understands the thevalue of coaching Ou Kno. If we dedicate serious time to this, thenwe've seen the the impact on quote: Retainment we've seen the impact onstaff. Fetension we've seen the impact on you know, keep giing a hold of ourtop performers. So once you've got that that that culture, then technology justbecomes the ennebler in helping make that an effective process and comingback to the the challenge of time, Aralian is to probably one of the thenumber one factor is to why I hear sales sales managers aren't coachingand I'm not saying that people don't have time. Sales managers are some ofthe busiest people out there and we have to be finding ways to actuallywell if we need to for them to see that coaching is not an arjuous process andtechnology can help with that. So when we look at how tools like refractorbeing utilized, you know we're telling sales leaders, which are theconversations that they should be paying most attention to Yo Hereis, athousand sales conversations over the past two weeks out of thoseconversations which are the ones where there is the most coaching opportunity,wherer the missed opportunities where ar the conversations that th managersshould be spending and making the most of their coaching time so and in thatregard where technology is helping, managers understand where they shouldbe applying their their limited coaching time. But there's alsobenefits here. Not just I'm talking a lot about managers here. The Benefitsof coaching can actually be seen on the ret level, and what I mean by that iswe're seeing a huge trend of things like pnaper coaching, where salespeople are actually can become even more effective at giving their peersfeedback and helping to support their peers, then as much as their managers can. So youknow in a sales team, we're all having thesame sales conversations we're all face, ing the same objections, we're alldealing with the same situations, every single day and oftentimes, just beingable to give Ambris PPR feedback. Give our colleagues the chance to give asecondary perspective, we're seeing that that approach being used more andmore in businesses and it's actually taking a lot of the responsibility werefrom fom managers and technology is just becoming awair to make thatprocess easier for for sales people to give each other feedback to get insightand what the conversations that their peers are. Having so and the other kything about why technologyist is helpful in driving that culture is oneof the big full downs of coaching. Is that coaching isn't tracked as notmeasured? If it's not, if it's not measured, then it's not going to beeffective and technology has the ability to actually track outcomes ofcoaching sessions and gives very real metrics about is the is this salesperson actually changing their behavior is one of the things that thesalesperson used to work on, and how can we actually make that measurableactivity so yeah? I think fundamentally it's about culture, but then. Secondly,the technologie is there to really...

...drive that change and really make thatprocess as as simple as possible and speaking about cur show, because Ithink MEES kind of Ma less question is frob Yo White, Brotu and question, butI think when youarselfis manager and sometimes individual Pany diffical tokind of pin Ta from do so. If you go to them and say, Hey Youare, managing ateam, can you get them Todo? That's why you not imporring to do that and youcan be called in everyone. Ability to Managtit is very easy to be called fromthe outside and particulare. If you've got TA, be Af fix, Pien Nis, also verydifficult. I think for the individual managers and and particularly theyve,been promoted from with it, which is something that you mentioned. Only onyou know a good footballer or Good Socer, playoff or American ogiens maynot be a good coach. You know they may be a great individual. Hee have fontesSIC skins, but they can. They dont have the people, management, kids and, andunfortunately, we all have to deal with that. You know and we all love thepromotion from Wizin, because that's is building a culture from MA perspective.Now, sometimes it's difficult to get people to change and it's difficult toget people to realize that you know the baby is agay in a way Peoo, which is awhich is which, which is sometimess, true and and and the quistion that Iwanted to ask. You is based on that. So this is its kind of an opinionativequestion that will asyuit. Do you think it's better to get the Sertis Cotinthan Internaly or get it done externally and basiallyting a as of theViyes, which is not youing Kinol team to look at what you're doing to empowerpeople and eventially direction is to what you should do? Yeah great greatquestion. I think, when we look at some of the the big challenges thatcompanies have in creating coaches in their in their team, its becausethey're not they're, not arming their maages with the actual skills andcapabilities to be effective, coaches and oftentimes businesses, they don'teven have the expertison house to to be able to teach to coach managers to bebetter coaches and in those situations I'm an advocate of looking foroutoutside support, for you know finding people who can actually develop theskills of managers, and I do believe there and we work with organizationswho are essentially they're, providing coaching as a service, and you know wh.We partner with about hundred sales, coaches andconsultancies, who are doing that. Coaching is the service on behalf ofclients who don't have the resources or the time or capacity capacity to beable to do that, coaching on a regular on a regular basis and actually thethat's, that's, I believe, that's a really great solution for companies whojust don't have the infrastructure or the the persunas internally to able todo that themselve. That being said, I don't think businesses can grow justbeing reliant on external providers. To do that. I think I think companies it'sa great way to start and I think, over time to become self tu sustainable.They have to at some point. You Know Create that coaching culture, becauseit's going to be more cost effective as an overhead in the in the long run, butit's also going to I think when we W, when we make, I will own people bettercoaches, that builds better relationships with the sales reps andwhen we have better relationships with the sales reps, they're, typicallygoing to be more motivated, they're going to be more driven, and that hashuge impact on on staff ortension. So yeah. I think I think there's a placefor both, but I think I'm a big believer in looking at for outsidesupport. If you don't feel like you have those capabilities internally,even at a senior level, and I think we're seeing a real big strend in themarket of companies investing in things like coaching as a service withoutoutooutsource providers, but I think for long Gevety, like with anythingelse they need to. They need to create that coachang culture, because that'sthe thing that's you know they're going to become more sustainable n in thelong run, yeah and I'm Gointa get...

...carried away and earte. So this is thisis my last question, but that this one is definitely my lest you know I'm a big Biy, VERN INSEAD OFCOACHING I've been promoting cuote a few few people in my teams of ootherize few years and and I've always look at people who can wo can adapt. Youknow that Camedyan in the team, someone that will rade somehere wo, listensomeones will get into a podcast like the one who are recording just now andtry to get some perspective from the outside. I doubt that in that day,today, walk I'Ma Bit Bily, VIINSEROF, ceaching and I've got a lots of respectfor people Ho actually take a good look at themselv in the mirrol every day.Try to understand what they get in thei skills and go and try to get theinformation themselv just wait for them anaor to give it to them. Because E, Idon't think I t. If you know you what your issues are and Wat, you need towalk on, because you've been told you should do whatever it text to go andget that information. You should be wherhe. I text to go and develop thatskip that that's my pospective on thing now how an you get people to do. I guess it's a two two sided question,but how do you get in Fostohol to realize what thethe gap in Duscil setheis without without without upsetting them in a way and ten? Also o? Youencourage people to go and self teach themself, because thereis lots ofresuces out thet, you got udyou Gook you get methodology, you've got lots ofpodcastlling Beto, be Roeniou acceeration an you can listen to. Buthow do you actually get people to get Oldou, ativate them twen Ye pe time togo and selv coach themselve yeah? So you know you said it yourself, Aralanbeing a big believer in Solf coaching, and actually I completely echo that,because sometimes the the best best coaches are actuallyourselves, and I give a great example of this. I see it frequently inbusinesses and I've had this myself wheter. We do. You Know Weekly coachingsessions here, a refract and I do want the one coaching sessions andwhat I'lldo is I'll get one of my sales PETL for exam example. Let's just take an SD onthis. This happened very recently and they'd had a they'd have a sales calland they felt like H, t that had a good conversation with the prospect. Theconversation was about six minutes long, but the conversation didn't convert Wanappointment, unthiss this the SDR kind of came off the Corsait. Don't knowwhat happened just it all seemed to be going so well had a good conversation,but the prospect was completely non commetal. They didn't want to hey,don't want to brook a demo like. Can you listen? Can you listen to the calland tell me what what I could have done differently, and I said okay before Ido that? Why don't you just listen back to that conversation yourself, and Iwant you to tell me what you think you could have done differently in thatsituation, so they said okay, so they listene back to the conversation andLon behold. They came back to me and said: Rich is heres four, five thingsin the conversation. I think I could have done different in that situation,and you know they picked out points where did missed out some key signalsfrom the prospect which they could have picked up on. They identified. Theyjust been talking a bit too much on the on the sales call. They felt that theyclosed the tripe to go for the clothes too late. All of these things wereabsolutely bang on the money like these are th. These are the same things thatI personally would have given feedback on, but the the SR actually hadidentified those things themselves without me having to even point themout, and it's amazing what happens that when we selv reflect when we listenback when we take a look at ourselves, it's amazing how much we can actuallyidentify, and course correct, ou ourselves. So I think any company couldshould be embracing that of don't just get managers to give all the answers,because that's not always the Most Im effective way of coaching often get getsales people to just try and figure out the answers themselves in ninetypercent of the time theyw'll be able to they'll. Be Able to figure it out, andhow can we encourage that more to happen in organizations? I think keypart of this is is star to share what top performers do differently, beingable to share conversations or opportunities or experiences of storiesfrom our top sales people? What are...

...those conversations sound like? Why isthis person who's constantly top with the leaderboard? What are they doingdifferently? What are they saying? What are the questions they're asking? Howdo they handle objections start to expose that more across the business,because guess what sales people are there very competitive they want to?They want to know why they're not top of the leaderboard. They want to knowwhy this person, who sits across the room or in another office, gets so muchbetter results than they do so. That's just just tlet's start exposing thatand sharing that and let's start trying to take those take those examples ofwhat others are doing and starting to learn off others, and I think when youget that culture of collaboration where you're sharing what just simply whatthe top performers are doing differently than sales people are goingto start to ask and start to seek out that information more and more an. Ithink, that's where we see again that that culture of coaching, an a cultureof selfimprovement really building in and businesses, yeah compety agree withyou. We than Youbout Forle, Fi Chal, so a defenge of the conversation, becausewe w need to close off always as a question to too guess,which is if someone wants to Carr on the conversation with you. Take it offflying putentially, look at a what refract could do for their businessbecause lespecilly. The reason why we speak is because we look at refractorAsolution for Protis and we think it could be a great and for US- and Ithink you is a actually on great job in the in the approach in the demandcreation or that so do believe that yoursers traning is onpoint. But if anyone wants to wants to follow up with you, get intouch co tothe conversation speak about what refer could do for their business. What's thebest way to get to look you Richard Yeah, the best way really in is just toconnect with you o linked an I'm, I'm quite active there, and even ifsomebody just wants to have a conversation about Coachyoug know aboutrefract, I'm you know, I feel, like I've learned a few things along the way,I'm by no means a coaching expert, but I'm happy to share any ideas. SuccessStories, Best Practices of what we see working. If you are, you know, lookingto build that culture, you feel like you're, something missing in YourBusiness, which is which you think, or you just feel like. You could be doinga better job as a sales manager or sales leader. You know just Jus trop mea message I'll be happy to have a very informal chat and Yeah Lingkedin,Richard Smith. refrack you be able to find me is the best way to contact mewith staff Wot, it twas great to Othe Shor Rethams Lank, you other Shuckingitoday, yeah appreciate thanks Vor y much Ar illiant uper adics has redefined the meaning ofrevenue generation for technology companies worldwide, while thetraditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams in househas existed for many years, companies are struggling with the lack of focus,agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprisetechnology sales see Ow operatics can help your company accelerate pipelineat operatics. Dot Net you've been listening to be to be revenueacceleration to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the showin your favorite bodcast player. Thank you so much for listening until nexttime.

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