Navigating the Shift

Navigating the Shift to Data-Driven Sales Coaching: An Interview with, Price Burlington

BCI: In the ever-evolving landscape of sales, the balance between art and science has been a perennial topic of discussion. With advancements in data analytics, the scales have tipped significantly towards science, revolutionizing the way sales leaders and coaches operate. We had the privilege of sitting down with Price Burlington, who retired from SAP, to discuss his insights on the transformation of sales coaching into a data-driven discipline. Price, you've had a distinguished career, particularly at SAP. How have you witnessed the transformation of sales coaching during your tenure?

Price Burlington: Thank you for having me. Over the years, I've seen a remarkable shift in the sales coaching landscape. Traditionally, it was more art than science, with intuition and experience guiding the process. However, with the advent of advanced data analytics and sophisticated tools, we've seen a drastic change. Now, science plays a more dominant role, with sales leaders armed with precise data to tailor coaching conversations to an individual's behaviors, skills, strengths, and weaknesses.

BCI: Can you elaborate on the tools and data that have played a crucial role in this transformation?

Price Burlington: Absolutely. We've seen a convergence of various tools, from sales assessments to behavioral assessments and performance KPIs. This data-driven approach allows sales leaders to move beyond basic metrics, providing a more nuanced understanding of each salesperson. Conversational intelligence platforms have further amplified the impact, fostering tailored and prescriptive coaching conversations. At SAP, we integrated these tools into our coaching program, recognizing the power of individualized coaching in creating elite sellers.

BCI: Setting goals is a fundamental aspect of any coaching program. How did you approach this at SAP, and what outcomes did you aim for?

Price Burlington: It's crucial to align coaching goals with overarching team objectives. For instance, if win rates are low, a well-structured coaching program can significantly impact them, potentially by 25%, according to studies. We aimed for improvements in quota attainment, win rates, and overall sales behaviors. The key was identifying deficiencies and leveraging the data to address those areas effectively.

BCI: The role of sales managers in coaching is pivotal. How did you assess and enhance their coaching skills at SAP?

Price Burlington: We acknowledged that not all sales managers were inherently adept at coaching. Many excelled as individual performers but needed a different skill set to manage and grow their teams. We invested in enabling them to be effective coaches, especially as we brought in early talent through our Academy for Customer Success. Recognizing that managers spend less than 20% of their time on proactive coaching, we integrated coaching skills into leadership training. The focus was on providing a streamlined curriculum that could seamlessly integrate into their existing responsibilities.

BCI: Can you share your perspective on the value of fostering a coaching culture within a sales organization?

Price Burlington: Fostering a coaching culture is transformative. It encourages a solution-focused approach, empowering salespeople to tap into their innate talent and wisdom. Coupled with the right data and tools, a coaching culture enhances individual and team performance. It aligns personal and professional goals, contributing to a more engaged and successful sales force.

BCI: Any recommendations for organizations looking to implement a data-driven coaching program?

Price Burlington: Start by identifying clear goals aligned with broader objectives. Leverage data and tools to understand individual strengths and weaknesses. Invest in coaching skills for sales managers, ensuring they can effectively guide their teams. It's a holistic approach that, when executed well, can significantly improve sales performance, increase revenue, and enhance customer engagement.

BCI: Thank you for your incredible insights, Price.

Price Burlington's insights provide a roadmap for organizations looking to embrace this transformation and leverage the power of data in shaping a high-performing sales team.

Want to Read More?

Price Burlington is one of 18 contributors to share their expert insights in our new book, A Field Guide to Data-Driven Sales Enablement. This field guide helps sellers and sales teams address the top three challenges in sales:

  • High sales turnover rates which currently average 34.7% across all sales organizations;
  • Low quota attainment rate which currently averages 43% of the sales organizations; and
  • The time and cost required to get individuals and teams to peak performance.

Hear from industry experts on how they were able to reduce sales turnover by 62% and increase the number of reps making quota by 88%. This book will show you how to substitute data for opinion.

Grab your copy today!