Why a Downturn is a Good Time to Invest in Coaching for Your Sales Team

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A colleague of ours was a young Account Executive (AE) working for a tech agency when the dot-com bubble burst. The ensuing recession hit the tech sector hard. Clients were breaking off their agency relationships to save money and the leadership was working on a plan for layoffs.

This AE’s manager took some creative liberties to protect our colleagues’ job at the time: he was assigned to a pro bono project for a local technology association. The project didn’t bring in revenue, but it gave that AE a chance to work independently and put him in touch with well-connected leaders in the local tech sector. 

One such leader was a founding partner for a local venture capital firm and an active association volunteer. That leader took a special interest in the AE, and over the course of the project, this evolved into a coaching relationship.

Later, when the economy picked back up, the agency gained a more qualified AE with stronger business relationships. In turn, that would produce several business development opportunities. In essence, one daring manager had taken a risk that not only shielded a team member from layoffs but also invested in developing him into a more capable professional.

 

Why is a downturn a good time to invest in coaching sales?

With talk of a looming recession on the minds of business leaders today, we’d posit it’s a good opportunity to invest in your sales team. A sales team in a competitive environment may not have the option to assign individual contributors to pro bono accounts, but they can still find ways to sharpen their skills and build resiliency. 

Even if layoffs aren’t in the plans, it’s unlikely a business will add new salespeople in a recession, so leaders need to squeeze every little bit of talent from their existing team. That means helping the team to improve conversion rates, workflow and productivity. Coaching is an economical and savvy way to help do just that.

 

The hesitancy some leaders have about sales coaching

“Some sales leaders hesitate to invest in new or expanded coaching programs because they worry it’s one more thing on their plate,” says Jiminny Founder and CEO Tom Lavery. “Many are already mentoring team members in some capacity – and given the hard times are choosing to spend more of their time striving to close deals.”

He points out that with a conversation intelligence platform like Jiminny, sales leaders do not have to do it all. This is because there are three types of sales coaching: self, peer and leader-led.

“Among our most successful customers, 80% of the impact comes from self-coaching individual sales reps playing back their own call recordings, listening to calls from their peers, and giving each other feedback and tips,” Tom added. 

Consider that from a leadership perspective: 80% of sales performance improvement that comes from coaching can be done without the direct intervention of a sales manager or the leader. 

This all makes sense when you think about it. Sales has always been a game of effort and numbers. The more you put into it – the more you get out. Effort doesn’t always have to be poured into volume because quality counts too. If you give your team the tools, techniques and the space to make themselves better, you will invariably end up with more productive individual contributors.

 

Advice for making a business case for conversation intelligence

Sales leaders benefit from the visibility and analytics a conversation platform provides into performance. We've seen a direct correlation between the adoption of Jiminny and an increase in pipeline and revenue among our customers. There’s third-party research that points to this link as well

This is the key to making a business case for such an investment even as budgets are being slashed. The ROI is clear and tangible – and the path to that return is short (often six months or less). When conversation intelligence is properly implemented, can have a rapid impact on overall sales performance.  

“Every sales leader knows surviving a downturn requires increasing pipeline, conversion rates and ultimately revenue,” according to Tom. “An investment in coaching, supported by tools like Jiminny, will invariably lead to insights and performance improvements that drive increased sales.” 

 

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Jiminny was recently named the #1 conversation intelligence tool on G2 for their Summer 2022 report. Take a tour on your own, book a demo, or try a free trial of Jiminny here.

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