How Salesforce Coaches Its Sales Leaders

Congrats. You’ve successfully brought in a sales leader who is going to propel your sales team to greatness. Not so fast. You’re job is not done. As I’ve learned firsthand in my dozen-plus years in the Salesforce sales organization, it is essential you continue to coach your hire on the characteristics they need to develop and the expectations you have of them.  

Below I’ve broken out the 10 categories I emphasize when coaching my direct reports:

Win Hearts and Minds

We ask every sales leader to immediately and consistently meet with each of their team members to understand their core values, motivations, strengths, areas of development, and career aspirations.

Our leaders should aspire to be great listeners and seek to understand before trying to be understood. And they need to lead from the front by rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in the business. This includes regularly hitting the road with account executives.

Get Good at Forecasting

Our sales leaders must take responsibility for their team’s pipeline and coach the sales process around it. I encourage my hires to live, breathe, and eat our next-steps-driven culture. This encompasses proactive, mutually agreed upon actions we are working on with our customers to earn their business.

Own It

“Owning it” takes on a variety of definitions when it comes to our sales leaders. It starts with setting the bar high and building a team of proactive, solution-oriented, strategic, driven, motivated, and accountable people.

They are also expected to encourage collaboration that makes everyone better at what they do. Leaders need to execute today and plan for tomorrow, while also thriving and excelling with change. It’s wise for them to get comfortable with shades of gray.

Real time... All of the Time

If it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen. This means sales leaders must make known that app and operational rigor is the expectation, not the exception.

Leaders should also manage a 60-day rolling pipeline and make sure marketing generated leads are followed up on in 24 hours. They need to understand pipeline gaps and have a plan around them.

Get Comfortable Having Uncomfortable Conversations

It’s vital sales leaders are transparent with their salespeople and give them specific, actionable, and measurable feedback, with no surprises. Career conversations should not be outsourced to other parts of the business. The competency of their salespeople should determine promotion readiness, not their tenure.

Sell Them... Don't Tell Them

When our sales leaders are coaching their team, context has to be king. Using stories is a great way to accomplish this. They must also explain the “why,” coach on the “how,” and focus on “us” and “we,” not “them” or “he/she.”

What's the Challenge that We're Trying to Solve?

This comes down to being solution-oriented. We coach our sales leaders to look for the root cause, support observations with data, and then follow through with outcomes and actions. While some challenges are outside their control, they should focus on what they can impact.

Get it Done and Do it Right

Ours sales leaders are expected to be 100% focused on success and on what’s best for the business. It’s also hugely important for them to put themselves in our customer shoes as much as possible.

Recruit Top Talent

We hire sales leaders that people will fight to work with again in the future. At the same time, they need to be experts at recruiting. Candidates are qualified based on their competencies, not their resume. As long as they have a handful of key characteristics, they can be developed into the best salespeople in the world.

Celebrate the Journey

As a cloud-based business, Salesforce has 12 quarter ends. It’s especially important for our sales leaders to celebrate the successes and opportunities each month brings with their team. They are encouraged to also use these monthly reviews to learn from past experiences and prepare for future instances where they may be running their own company or sales organization. 

We hire sales leaders that people will fight to work with again in the future.​”

Mike Wolff | SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce
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