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.

I think three quarters of organizations will openly tell you that the fundamental role of a sales manager is to coach and improve that team. On that basis, why is the most important function of a sales manager not getting the priority that it deserves? You were listening to bb revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be to beewer of a new acceleration. My name is already in with you and I'm yet today with Richards. Me Go from done ed of sense as refracts. How are you today, Richards? I'm very well, reliant and yeah, really appreciate you having me on your show. Very much looking forward to the discussion, and me too, and me do because it's about seals, couching and I love since cotching. Lots of different methodology, also different way to go about it, but so as an interesting topic. But before we go into theaters of the conversation, Richard, would you manage producing yourself in a little bit more details, as well as giving an idea of what your company, refract does for your clients. Yeah, certainly so. Yeah, I'm the one of the CO founders in the the head of sales here at refract, where a UK technology company based in Newcastle. I've been in sales personally for about ten years. Started off as an stare straight out of university, really with in a situation like I think most people find themselves are not really knowing where what I wanted to do with my career and seemingly felt that my kind of behaviors and personality and kind of career desires we're nicely aligned with the profession of sales. So I worked in the Software Rena all of my career so far. As I said, started as a nest all, literally picking the phone up, booking appointments for sales people of kind of progress and develop really doing almost all parts of the sales process since then and now of a very grateful to have been founded a company and had the chance to build out my own sales organization here. I guess that the reason why we built refractor was all through my own personal experiences of trying to figure out this whole sales thing along the way. The challenge that I had early on in my career is is actually a challenge that I think is more universal. I seriously believe that my success in sales has been very significantly hammered by the lack of coaching and development that I received early on in my career. How much of my early part of my career was was was really about, as I said, kind of figuring it, figuring all out by myself, making the mistakes and really not benefiting from that continuous, important feedback and mentorship from sales leadership on on how I can improve. I think there's lots of lots of challenges as to why that didn't take place, which I'm sure we're going to we're going to get into that on the show. But this problem of sales people not regularly being improved and not having the coaching that that's going to set them up for successes is a is a problem being faced across the world and I think is a is a cause of many sales people not hit in quote Nott, not staying around at their companies for as long as they should and, ultimately, the the impact that has on the bottom line for any, any business out there. Yeah, okay, that makes sense. So refract he's basically what he's is it the company it does, since coutch or themation. What would you give the exactly? Yeah, sure so, in a nutshell, refract analyzers conversations that sellers are having with their prospects and customers and really unlocks the black box of those conversations and surface molliple in sights to sales leadership, but maybe even wider across the organization, about what's happening in those conversations, the topics...

...that are being discussed, the competitors that are being mentioned, the questions and objections that seals people are facing, and really surfacing that data and making that more accessible for sales leadership so they can have a tighter grasp about which conversations they should be paying most attention to. But also leads sales leadership to coaching opportunities by pinpointing where those defining moments in those conversations are taking place and really taking the heavy lifting out of what has been perceived as quite a time consuming task in sales managers. Really a coaching and improving those conversations to have more successful outcomes make sense. So I'm recently came across one of your article, Richard, and and that's probably state that sends people will own coach. Our twenty seven person more likely to meet for that. So that's kind of a quarter or smaller sells than the one that I'm being coushed. So why do you think companies still don't see the value investing sales coach? It's a great question and I think the key point they're really in the keyword that you use phrases don't see the value. And it's interesting because when I speak, I spend my days speaking with sales leaders and sales managers and I very rarely come across anybody who says that they don't see the value and coaching. Everybody, everybody talks very openly about that. They they know that coaching is very valuable, that they should be doing it, they should be doing more of it, and that the problem is is that there's one thing about seeing something and there's another thing about actually doing it. And the reality is is that most companies will point to the fact that coaching is such a valuable activity that they know that it really moves the need in their business, but when you actually look behind the scenes, the reality is that it's still not happening or isn't happening as much or it's not as effective as it should be. So there's this big sort of dichotomy between what people are saying, what companies are saying, versus what's actually happening. And we're actually we're actually seeing this happen on the sales rep level as well, where most sales people say they don't receive any coaching whatsoever, yet their sales management are saying the opposite, that they're saying that they coach regularly. So I think actually a lot of it is the fact that sales management, what they believe they're doing is coaching, is not being is not being seen as that by the actual sales that their sales people. There's a big disparity there and I think the reasons why coaching is maybe not taking places is, if I'm going to be brutally honest, it it comes down to excuses. I'm not saying those excuses are all non valid, but you know people who will say that the it's a time consuming exercise, they don't know how to coach, they don't know where to get started and ultimately all these things, I think, are these things should be fixed. These are these excuses which can be addressed and I think when you when you actually consider the the the revenue impact that good, effective, quality coaching can have, then it's company should be should be really using less of those excuses and pay more attention to it. That makes sense. That makes sense. And another push I want you to to twist. He's around the managers. Actually, you spoke about them, manager, and and and we when you manager said is think you've got to manage a number. You've got to manage the people with both you. You've got to manage the people on the side of you see to work with your bus, you to work your CEO, CFO, you've got to walk with marketing, you what need to walk this finance, but you also have to manage your team and manage down number. So you know experience one of the main reasons why 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 falls into two book it's first of all, it's it's a perceived lack of time that they see it as a time consuming exercise, and the other is that actually the majority of sales managers get to that position because they were just actually really good sales people. That they were high performers and by nature of them being high performers they were promoted to being...

...sales managers. But actually the best, the best professionals don't always become the best, the best coaches. You know, we see this in the will in the world of football all the time. There's been some world class coutball, world class footballers that have been at the top of their game that when they have given their chance, their armor football management, they fail spectacularly. And because it's it's not because they were actually that they were actually poor footballers, that that wasn't the case. It was just that they didn't have the skills and capabilities to be able to lead a team. And they're very two, two very separate skills. And if I just address both of those individually, so that the time aspect, this one really frustrates me because it's not about a lack of time. It should actually say it's actually a lack of prioritization that I think three quarters of organizations will openly tell you that the fundamental role of a sales manager is to coach and improve their team. On that basis, why is the most important function of a sales manager not getting the priority that it deserves and we have to look at what are all the tasks that are managers doing that's actually stopping them all that, that is taking up their time, which is preventing them from doing that really crucial activity. And the realities that managers are spending too much time looking at boards, they're looking at CRMS, they're looking at activity metrics, they're in meetings, you name it, but they're being good and down with all is essentially admin which is taking them away from actually doing the things which is which are really going to improve the performance and move the needle. You know, I most managers will spend coateless amounts of time looking at stats and dashboards and talking about those metrics to their sales people. Yeah, they don't need to do that because those metrics are actually openly available for sales people to to see anyway. You know, I don't need to be told what my activity metrics will last week because I can just log into the crm and actually see them. I don't need my manager tell me tell me those things. What I what I want for my manager is I want my manager to say, okay, you know, you those less deals last week. Are You boot less meetings last week. Then then your peers. You actually you actually made a similar amount of calls or you know, you you've got a similarmount of pipeline and I want to understand, well, how come this person over there is actually what? What is he doing differently in his conversations and what is he what is what the behaviors that he has that that's making him more successful? And this is what coaching should be. It should be analyzing the why versus the actual, the actual outcome. So I think ultimate is about with prioritization, I think, and I think that stems from the top down as well, or Allian I think. I think I'm talking about the seat the C suite here and activity which drives the needles so significantly as coaching. They should be the top down should be actually telling their managers, you need a fine time and your calendars to to be to Ti to coaching and we're going to make sure that's prioritized. So that's that's kind of covers off book at Number One. I means that the second book it was around managers not knowing how to coach, and this is maybe a bigger issue in a very much more real issue and real excuse, because coaching is not a skill that everybody just learns overnight. You have to be trained how to coat, you have to learn how to give feedback in the right way. You need to know who you should be spending most time coaching in your sales team. And again, I think a lot of managers are just promoted to those positions and they're just told Okay, go ahead and coaching improve your team, but they don't know where to begin. And I think companies need to take more seriously about enabling their managers, giving them the tools and the the education on how to actually coach their reps. and I think when we do that, managers get more confident about coaching and they get more serious about what to do it too. Yeah, that makes sense. And for the first for the first element of your young something your previous question. I would you think the use of technology is actually changing the seals, couching, the management of resources? Do you think it's actually confusing things? Do you think it's something, because there is always at that saying...

...of either even fish to a man every day and you will come back the day a dozen the day after to have a fish. You know from you or teaching out to fish and you will become a Fisher Manu you can go when they will be. So do you think technology can actually help you to not just give you the numbers and give you that, but also give you the fundamental as to the why you could change, what needs to be done, what needs to be cush so basically doing the end then he's in the number of really on dust on the areas of improvements. All is that the GLOGIA actually do that. And you think the ends and do think that being deployed sufficiently to support to support sens leaders? Yeah, it's a good question. I think before we look at the technology 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 be valued as not going to be used. So companies have to make sure that they've actually got that culture of coaching, that they've got people in the business who want a coach, who wants to improve. People are sales people and they have to also have a culture again, from the top down, understands the the value of coaching. You know, if we dedicate serious time at this, then we've seen the the impact on quote retainment. We've seen the impact on staff retention. We've seen the impact on, you know, keep keeping a hold of our top performers. So once you've got that, that that culture, then technology just becomes the enabler in helping make that an effective process. And coming back to the challenge of time reliant is to probably one of the the number one factor is too why I year sales sales managers aren't coaching and I'm not seeing that people don't have time. Sales managers are some of the busiest people out there and we have to be finding ways to actually well, if we need to, for them to see that coaching is is not an audious process, and technology can help with that. So when we look at how tools like refracted being utilized, you know we're telling sales leaders which are the conversations that they should be pay most attention to. He is a thousand sales conversations over the past two weeks. Out of those conversations, which are the ones where there is the most coaching opportunity? Where the missed opportunities? Where are the conversations that that managers should be spending and making the most of their coaching time? So and in that regard, where technology is helping managers understand where they should be applying their their limited coaching time. But there's also benefits here, not just young I'm talking a lot about managers here. The Benefits of coaching can actually be seen on the REP level, and what I mean by that is we're seeing a huge trend of things like peer to peer coaching, where and sales people are actually can become even more effective at giving their peers feedback and helping to support their peers then as much as their managers can. So you know, as in a sales team, we're all having the same sales conversations, were all facing the same objections, we're all dealing with the same situations every single day and oftentimes just being able to give embrace peer to peer feedback give our colleagues the chance to give a secondary perspective. We're seeing that that approach being used more and more in businesses and it's actually taking a lot of the responsibility a way from from managers, and technology is just becoming a way to make that process easier for for sales people to give each other feedback, to to get insights and what the conversations that their peers are having. So and the other key thing about why technology is helpful in driving that culture is one of the Big Fall Downs of coaching is that coaching isn't tracked as not measured. If it's not if it's not measured, then it's not going to be effective, and technology has the ability to actually track outcomes of coaching sessions and gives very real metro tricks about is the is the sales person actually changing their behaviors? One of the things the salesperson is to work on, and how can we actually make that a measurable activity? So yeah, I think fundamentally it's about culture, but then secondly, the technology is there to really drive...

...that change and really make that processes as simple as possible. And speaking about culture, because I think it's kind of my last question is probably wide brought upon question, but I think when your sales manager and sometimes individual many difficult to kind of clean that from the so if you go to them and say hey, you're managing a team, can you get them to do that? Why are you not them boring to do that? And you can be called in. Everyone ability to manage team's very easy to be called from the outside and particular if you've got a bit of experience, is also very difficult, I think, for the individual managers and and particularly they being promoted from with it, which is something that you mentioned only on. You know, a good footballer or Good Soccer Playoff or American audience may not be a good coach. You know, they may be a great individual and the May have front the stick skills, but they conty don't have the people management skills. And and unfortunately we all have to deal with that, you know, and we all love the promotion from within, because that's is building a culture from a perspective. Now, sometimes it's difficult to get people to change and it's difficult to get people to realize that, you know, they are babies are in a way, so which is a which is which we should seven things true and and and the quish that I wanted to rescue is based on that. So we see, it's kind of an open native question, I think. Would ask you, do you think he's better to get this as coaching done internity or getting done externally and basically having it does up all ways, which isn't young internal team who get what you're doing, when power people and eventually direction is to what you should do. Yeah, great, great question. I think when we look at some of the big challenges that companies have in creating coaches in their in their team, it's because they are not they're not arming their managers with the actual skills and capabilities to be effective coaches and oftentimes businesses they don't even have the expertise and house to be able to teach to coach managers to be better coaches. And in those situations I'm an advocate of looking for outside support, for finding people who can actually develop the skills of managers. And I do believe they're and we work with organizations who are essentially there. They're providing coaching as a service. And you know what, we partner with about a hundred sales coaches and consultancies who are doing that coaching as a service on behalf of clients who don't have the resources or the time or capacity capacity to be able to do that coaching on a regular on a regular basis and actually the that that's that's I believe that's a really great solution for companies who just don't have the infrastructure, the the persona's internally to be able to do that themselves. That being said, I don't think businesses can grow just being reliant on external providers to do that. I think, I think companies it's a great way to start and I think over time to become selves to sustainable, they have to at some point, you know, create that coaching culture because it's going to be more cost effective as an overhead in the in the long run, but it's also going to I think, when we when we when we make our own people better coaches, that builds better relationships with the sales reps. and when we have better relationships with the sales reps, they're typically going to be bet more motivated, they're going to be more driven and that has huge impact on on staff retention. So yeah, I think I think there's a place for both. But I think I'm a, you know, big believer in looking at for outside support 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 the market of companies investing in things like coaching as a service without outsource providers. But I think for long gevity, like with anything else, they need to they need to create that coaching culture, because that's the thing that's you know, they're going to become more sustainable in the long run. Yeah, and I'm going to get carried away...

...another so this is this is my last question, but that this one is definitely my last one. You know, I'm a big believer in self coaching. I've been promoting code a few few people in my teams of other as few years and and I've always looked at people who can who can adapt, you know, that chameleon in the team, someone that will rate somewhere, will listen someonees, will get into a podcast like the one who are recording just now and try to get some perspective from the outside and adapt that in that day to day walk. I'm a big BILLIV in self coaching and I've got a lots of respect for people actually take a good look at themselves in the mirror every day, try to on those more the gap in their skills are and go and try to get the information themselves that just wait for the manager to give it to them because, yeah, I don't think I's felt if you know you what your your issues are and what you need to walk on because you've been told you should do whatever I text to go and get that information. You should do whatever I text to go and develop that skip that. That's why perspective on fact. Now, how do you get people to do? I guess it's too to side the question, but how do you get them, first of all, to realize what the other gap induskill seties without without without upsetting them in a way? And also how you encourage people to go and self teach themselves, because there is lots of resources out there. You got all your books, you've got methodology, you've got lots of podcasts likely to be a rover, you acceleration, that you can listen to. But how do you actually get people to get auto motivate them to adapt a time to go and sell coachself? Yeah, so, you know, you said it yourself, a reli and being a big believer in self coaching, and actually I completely echoed up, because sometimes the best, best coaches are actually ourselves, and I'll give a great example of this. I see it frequently in businesses and I've had this myself with a we do you know weekly coaching sessions here a refract and I do want the one coaching sessions. What I'll do is I'll get one of my sales people for examples. Example, let's just take an SD on this. This happened very recently and they had a had a sales call and they felt they had that had a good conversation with the prospect. The conversation was about six minutes long, but the conversation didn't convert with an appointment under the the SDR kind of came off the course. I don't know what happened, just it all seemed to be going so well, had a good conversation, but the prospect was completely noncommittal. They didn't want to they didn't want to get demo. Can you listen? Can you listen to the call and tell me what what I could have done differently? And I said, okay, before I do that, why don't you just listen back to that conversation yourself and I want you to tell me what you think you could have done differently in that situation. So they said okay, so they listened back to the conversation and learn behold, they came back to me and said, rich is, here's four five things in the conversation I think I could have done differently in that situation and you know, they picked out points where they did missed out some key signals from the prospect which they could have picked up on. They identified they've just been talking a bit too much on the on the sales call. They felt that they closed the try to go for the close too late. All of these things were absolutely bang on the money. Like these are that these are the same things that I personally would have given feedback on. But the the yes, you are actually had identified those things themselves without me having to even point them out. And it's amazing what happens that when we self reflect, when we listen back, when we take a look at ourselves, it's amazing how much we can actually identify and course, correct our ourself. So I think any company could should be embracing that of don't just get managers to give all the answers, because that's not always the most effective way of coaching. Often get get sales people to just try and figure out the answers themselves. In ninety percent of the time they'll be able to bill be able to figure it out. And how can we encourage that more to happen in organizations? I think key part of this is is still ash share what what top performers do differently, being able to share conversations or opportunities or experiences or stories from our top sales people. What are those conversations sound like? But why is this person...

...who's constantly top with the leaderboard? What are they doing differently? What are they saying? What are the questions they're asking? How do they handle objections? Start to expose that more across the business because, guess what, sales people are the very competitive that they want to they want to know why they're not top of the leaderboard. They want to know why this person who sits across the room or in another office gets so much better results than they do. So that's just just let's start exposing that and sharing that and let's start trying to take those take those examples of what those are doing and starting to learn off others. And I think when you get that culture of collaboration where you're sharing what, just simply what the top performance are doing differently than sales people are going to start to ask and start to seek out that information more and more and I think that's where we see again that that culture of coaching and a culture of self improvement really building and businesses. Yeah, completely agree with you. We thank you very much for us, Richard. So at the age of the conversation, because we need to close up, always as a question to to our guests, which is, if someone wants to carry on the conversation with you, take it of fly, but actually look at at what's refract could do for their business. Because, let's say, see the reason why we speak, it's because we look at freefract as a solution for varieties and we think it could be a great and for us, and I think you years of actually done a great job in the in the approach, in the demon creation or that. So I the believe that your since training is on point. But if anyone wants to want to follow up with you, get in touch, go through the conversation, speak about what freefract could do for their business. What's the best way to get rid of your richards? Yeah, the the best way really and is just to connect with you on Linkedin. I'm quite active there a I'm even if somebody just wants to have a conversation about coaching, know about refract. 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 have you to share any ideas, success stories, best practices of what we see working. If you are, you know, looking to build that culture, you feel like you're the something missing in Your Business, which is which you think, or you just feel like you could be doing a better job as a sales monitor, all sales leader, you know, just just drop me a message. I'll be happy to have a very informal chat. And, yeah, Linkedin Richard Smith refract, you'll be able to find me as the best way to contact me. The stuff what we twas great to Agin the short reach out. Thank you very much, floming today. Yeah, appreciate thanks very much. You. ratant. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening. To be to be revenue acceleration, to ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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