Perspectives on Data-driven Sales Coaching from Stefan Funk

Stefan Funk is Program Lead Data-Driven Sales Coaching and Head of Communications, Sales Coaching, SAP Sales Learning.  He joined Britta Lorenz in this episode of Coffee, Collaboration, and Enablement in the DACH region of Europe.

Stefan shared a ton of amazing insights, but the three tips he shared for anyone looking to establish a coaching program or coaching culture are:

1️⃣Determine and define what coaching metrics and performance drivers you will be using and how will you measure each.

2️⃣Bring in the sales managers right from the beginning.  They need to buy-in and drive it or this will not happen.

3️⃣Focus on continuous measurement and improvement of the impact of your coaching program on your business metrics.

So much value within this conversation.

Audio Transcript

Britta Lorenz
Hello and welcome everyone to our new episode of The Duff, Germany, Austria and Switzerland podcast of collaboration coffee and enablement. Today, I’m humbled to welcome Stefan funk from SAP, where he is the program lead of data driven sales coaching, and the head of communications sales coaching second SAP sales learnings. Welcome, Stefan, and thanks for joining us today.

Stefan Funk
Thank you very much, Peter. And, john, it’s really a pleasure to be here.

Britta Lorenz
And thanks, john, also for giving us the opportunity to use this format and also being with us today. Thank you, my

The Collaborator
friends. Absolutely.

Britta Lorenz
Great. Stefan, before we jump into the details of coaching, what today’s talk will be all about, may I ask you to briefly introduce yourself, who you are, and what brought you to the person who you are today?

Stefan Funk
Wow. Great, great question. So as you already saw, so my name is Stefan funk, you’re waiting towards the folks I with SAP I’m not with SAP since 20 years around, roughly the pay the person who I am today, obviously, my three kids that I have at home with my wife, and they bring a lot of joy and, and fun to our life and you learn every day from them, both them and there’s a lot of stuff that you can learn from your kids that you obviously also can bring bring back to, to, to to business. And as you know, I’m really passionate about around coaching techniques, using coaching as a kind of collaboration tool with colleagues and stuff like this. And I’m also trying to use these kind of techniques when I talk to my kids as well because everything that that you can do in business life with coaching you can also do in private life, and it’s the kind of thing that that that really brings value to the table not not only on the business side, but also on the private life. Yeah,

Britta Lorenz
that’s so great to hear that you actually also applied of coating practices with your kids because it’s so impactful. And I hope we dive into that also because they can learn so much out on that may ask just one small side question Are you also coaching your wife carefully

Stefan Funk
I close the door to my tumor up to my home office. Yes, yes. And and and she’s she’s also doing this with me as well. Because I think asking questions and and that’s that’s really a powerful tool that that we are using in coaching is is so it’s so important because you really understand the other side right? their feelings, their emotions, their vicious where they want to be where they are to where they are today right and of course it’s it’s in private life it’s sometimes not that not that easy applying all of the coaching techniques because sometimes you simply need to make decisions and and you cannot argue for for for a long time and asking open ended questions stuff like this but yes of course we are using this technique also also privately because it really helps to yeah be understood better understand the other person’s perspective. And that’s that’s that’s by design, especially in the sales enablement world specifically when and you have coaching with your sales reps or as well as sales managers, I definitely want to include as managers as well in this discussion it’s it’s such a powerful tool, asking powerful questions and really getting behind the curtain right and getting really down to the root cause of certain challenges which is sometimes not not that obvious. So a picture that’s that I like to use very often in my in my in my coaching session and when I do coaching enablement for for other teams, I really like this iceberg model, right. So there’s something on top that is that is pretty obvious, right? But there’s so much underneath the water that you that you do not see when you have simple soda normal type of conversations, right where you can say yes or no to question but using open ended questions. Really using backtracking and and these kind of techniques that really helps deep dive into into the root cause of a challenge and really helping others to become better and and really understanding also better their, their their own situation.

Britta Lorenz
It’s such a powerful when you use the right questions to unlock certain unknown behaviors or thought of thinking sometimes. And it’s really when you see those my mind light bulb moments in the eyes of your coachee, it’s really interesting to see how they actually take it with them as even you don’t tell them it’s a homework, but they take it with them, and work with it even unconsciously. And I think the bottom part of the iceberg is really a lot in the unconsciousness what happens there. And it’s really great to see those things happening. Stefan, but before we dive deeper into the topic, your title says data driven coaching, can you give us some more insights on how you interpret that data driven coaching? And also how you apply it as SAP?

Stefan Funk
Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. Answer we definitely love this this long terms, yet SAP, so yeah, data driven coaching, or data driven sales coaching, as we call this program here at SAP, it combines the power of two things. So we already covered a little bit around around the coaching piece. So via combining the power of coaching, really unlocking the potential of everyone through coaching with data, so with insights, and why we are doing this is basically we believe that in order to drive sales performance, you need your on one hand side need to have this kind of insights on and really unfolding the challenges, right, based on certain KPIs burden based on certain metrics, like win ratio, like closing business, opening up net new customers, opportunity creation and stuff like this, we all know the sales matrix, but we are unfolding them through this insight driven approach by providing data and combining this was the power of coaching, right? So normally, these kind of data driven coaching reports that we are providing to sales reps or to our sales executives that these are really high openness, right? Because they are so stuck in their in their business and then sometimes they simply lose the big picture so what what is happening around them and and and one one element that we are also including this to this insight, concept is that you’re also doing benchmarking still vac Could you be right now, right? So we are comparing really sets executives in in the same country was the same sales back boss the same portfolio in the same industry, but the same target matrix at the end of the day, and really a benchmarking them against each other. And video highlighting this also in the data driven coaching reports in order to highlight Okay, you are not that bad. But you could perform better. And here is how you could do this. Yeah. So that’s that’s the inside prod. And these kind of insights via then take into the coaching conversation, and through questioning and all these kind of techniques there then unlocking the full potential and, and having them to build out their own plan their own solutions, because this is what coaching is all about. People would never come to a coaching session and tell them, hey, according to the benchmark, you should be at X percent of quota attainment this year, this is not going to happen. You should do a B and C. This this is not how coaching is working. So yeah, asking the right question. So where do you see yourself right now? Where do you want to be in three months from now? What are some of the options that you personally see an overview over in order to overcome your current challenges, your current obstacles? Right? And through these kind of question and techniques, you enable your coachee to develop their own solutions, right? Instead of telling them it’s more around guiding them and that’s and this is why I think coaching is such a powerful tool, because it’s completely different than what we see with with traditional sets and Edelman trainings, rights vs. Any folks You have sent folks in the past to five day on site workshops, we death by PowerPoint and stuff like this, of course, we built we built a community was them, which is also a powerful tool. However, in order to sustain performance improvements, I think coaching is the right thing to do. Absolutely, yes, sense executives, and through this reckless because coaching is not a one time thing. Right. So it’s a process, it’s a continuous cycle that you’re doing. It includes hit back in it includes checkpoints. Okay, what what have you learned from last time? Okay, what what do you want to do next. So it’s really an action oriented or solution oriented approach, that you have certain checkpoints where you check back with the coachee and see where he or she is going and down and and really try over time to to improve performance. And we certainly see the service with our data driven coaching program at SCP definitely.

Britta Lorenz
I love that approach. I think it’s wonderful, especially creating the awareness with the coachee themselves. So they actually see what they and identify themselves, what are the next steps to reach the next level, for example, and also underlying their top strengths, as well as that. I like to call them bottom strengths. I never use the word weakness. For me, it’s either a top strength, strength or bottom strength, with fact that it’s really visible, and you can grasp it. So creating the awareness based on questioning with facts. I think that’s great. JOHN, I saw you raised your hand.

The Collaborator
I just wanted to say this is an amazing conversation. Um, I want to ask Stefan real quick, though, Stefan, so when you bring the data to the seller that says, hey, here’s what other people are doing. Here’s where you can be. Do you have any recommendations that you bring to them? Or is it entirely an uncovering exercise with them asking questions and helping them get there?

Stefan Funk
It’s, it’s, it’s both, it’s both. So with these kinds of insights, we also bring any recommendations to the table. So that’s, that’s, that’s part of our so called data driven coaching reports. As we are using also another program that we have within our team, the so called sales skills assessment. So it’s the sales skills assessment, we are rating on the one hand, we are rating our sales executives, so they can rate themselves in terms of certain skill sets, like negotiation skills, sea level, sea level exposure, and stuff like this. And also, the manager has the opportunity to rate their teams as well. So and once the skill gap occurs, the system being highlighted, and certain training and learning recommendations are being provided to, to to the sales rep. And these kind of insights as well, they’re using in terms of generate the recommendations in terms of additional micro learning training opportunities, classroom full of for sure, we are not getting rid of any other training opportunities that we have out there. And, and we are recommending these this type of thing, but we are also recommending to get in contact with highly successful sales reps as well. So via VR, specifically listing them in these kind of reports and say, Hey, of course, you might not be good in terms of the benchmark, but we strongly recommend to reach out to your colleague in the same region and maybe have a discussion around this right in addition to our data driven coaching program, and and learn from them, what have they done differently, maybe it is then more a mentor mentee relationship that that they are building so. So So two, two approaches here. But we are also recommending stuff to them within the report. So it’s not simply unfolding the challenges but also providing clear recommendations that they can then also bring back to the coaching conversation and say, Okay, I think I like to do A, B and C and let’s let’s have a discussion around this.

The Collaborator
My head is exploding guys. This is just a tremendous insight, Stefan, I’m gonna be quiet again. Thank you for taking that interruption, though.

Stefan Funk
I just want to take a step back because that’s that’s always the question by the by via using data. So explain to us a little bit so. So one of the other reasons is that we want to take out the guesswork right because normally in a coaching situation, so in a normal coaching relationship, the coach He would come to the coach and say, Hey, I have a problem in topic. I don’t know, time management, right? And and let’s have a discussion around this. So in order to, and this is really important as we would like to show the business impact of this program and actually show okay coaching can can make a difference in terms of performance improvements, he would like to take out the guesswork and say, Okay, let’s be a little bit structured around this and structure this along the insights that you’re providing. And, and let’s first start with the conversation around the performance issues. If you have other topics you’d like to talk about, right in your coaching conversation, like time management, or my manager so that you can you can absolutely do this now. But it provides kind of framework and it makes a busy sales colleague a little bit more easier to to structure your sales conversation or coaching conversation, because they are not so often experiencing Good, good coaching conversations. Yeah.

Britta Lorenz
So, Stefan, when you go into these conversations, how do you prevent or distinguish between? That’s a mentoring now versus that’s a coaching session. Because in in real def, per definition, there is a huge difference. So how do you actually approach those? Or uncover the misunderstandings or mis expectations from the coaches there?

Stefan Funk
Yeah. So what what did you once once people, so it’s, it’s a complete voluntary program. So that’s not nothing that that that is mandatory for the organization. So this is a completely voluntary program. So I think that’s what’s important to mention. Because otherwise, you would, you would go against the idea of coaching being something that the coachee wants to have, right? If you simply put this over them. So if you’re doing two things, basically, so first of all, before they join the first coaching session, or before they joined the program, they have a couple of enablement. So micro learning assets, where we explain a little bit about what what coaching is coaching versus mentoring versus other professions that we see how a coaching session will look like we have some some some examples recorded, that that people can also watch. And also, once the coach enters the first coaching session with the coach, the coach also gives a short introduction towards what the coachee can expect and what is also expected from him or her right. So that’s that’s, that’s, that’s really key. Because what we have seen in the past is that it’s really important to have autocoat kind of coaching culture within your organization, right. And building a coaching culture really requires a lot of change management, a lot of support from from top down, where managers and the entire organization, the entire sales organizations, in particular in that case, is really living, breathing this this this kind of notion. Yeah. And, but yeah, you’re getting there. And we, of course, we still have folks who come to a coaching session. Now, dear coach, please tell me what should I do with my poor numbers that I’m seeing here on my on my scorecard or on my dashboard? That’s, that’s perfectly fine. And it’s also perfectly fine to to data enter coaching relationship after the very first call, right? Because it really it really needs to match, right? It really needs to match on a personal level, it needs to match on a topic level. So there are various dimensions. And if this matching is not happening, I don’t think it really makes sense to to force people to to continue by for coaching engagement, because otherwise, everyone is frustrated, the coach as well as to coach you, and that that should not happen and it’s really not of the benefit of everyone’s time.

Britta Lorenz
So you mentioned that the program actually is voluntary within SAP. How can the coachee actually select the coach they want to work with? Or do you appoint them to your paradigm? Do we have a matching system there? Or is it also you approach someone and ask them about it?

Stefan Funk
Yeah. So then we look back for three years from today. We still work with both a beautiful solution called Excel spreadsheet and Fantastic, fantastic tool you can do, you can do everything.

Unknown Speaker
So

Stefan Funk
so we did the matching manually so so we had two registrations, we had the coaching pool, right? A coach pool with certain with certain Abby basically said, okay, it should match, at least from from, from from a language point of view from from from original point of view from a time standpoint of you and stuff like that, and maybe our experience we have, we have completely changed us. And we now have a coach data base for for coaches that is available to them. And they can pick and choose their coach, which best meets their requirements. And each, each coach has a little profile, including coach experience certification speed with Erickson Butte with the international coach, Federation, number of coaching sessions, industry expertise, SAP solution expertise and link to the LinkedIn profile. So in order to really make a first evaluation, okay, does this person really fit my needs, but at the end of the day, the coachee is selecting that coach. So you’re not mapping them somehow. Or you’re forcing them to to work with a particular coach. So that’s, that’s completely on the coach’s side.

Britta Lorenz
Great. What I hear now is also you are still in the process of building the coaching culture within the company. What are or what were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome? And how are you integrating management and higher level positions? So they actually support and sponsor and champion it?

Stefan Funk
Mm hmm. So I think about oil, we already have a great coaching culture at SVP since years. So I would I would make a difference towboats all sales organization. And the thing here is that, of course, we have we have great sales managers, they are doing coaching every day. You have sales managers who think they coach, but it’s just another forecast call, whatever. So they schedule calls with the teams and say, hey, let’s have a coaching session. And then boom, boom, boom, what’s what’s what’s your next steps on? On pipeline opportunity? x y Zed? So

Britta Lorenz
that’s hard, powerful questions.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, you can.

Unknown Speaker
Like it.

Stefan Funk
It’s, it’s still, it’s still it’s still a long way. And it’s still, it still needs some some work to be done. So I think it really it really needs to start on top and, and what what the what, I’m a big believer in, you can you can only be a great coach, if you have also experience coaching by yourself. And I think that’s

Britta Lorenz
up to us and all those things. Yes,

Stefan Funk
exactly. So you can you can invest a lot of money in in sales management trainings, and, and, and, and do certifications do enablement for them, what, what, what great coaching techniques are, of course, but you can only you can, you can only do this, from the bottom of your heart, if you if you by yourself have experienced this in the past, and this is something that we will dramatically change. Moving forward that if you want to be a good if you want to be a good coach, in any type of coaching program, right, it doesn’t necessarily only need to be data from coaching, we have tons of coaching programs and organization, you first have to experience by yourself what coaching really means now, and what what are certain aspects of coaching your teams, right? So there’s there’s always the people components, right? How do you want to develop your people, there’s private stuff going on, where you also might need to coach your teams, right? It’s not all always all about performance, then you have a performance component. Of course, because at the end of the day, we all need to make our numbers and it’s really important to to stick to them be successful. And coaching can definitely help here. So So this is one thing to really drive this from top to down. And, and really creating kind of coaching mindset. But since it’s been addressed, and but it’s really important for us to say, of course, you should have coaching conversations with your teams on a continuous basis. But please do not coach someone from your team within our data driven coaching program. Because then there is still the risk that it’s going to be just another forecast, call another performance review call and this should be heightened. So the August try. So once the sales manager wants to join our program, it’s perfectly fine. But then they should they should coach someone else. Because as a coach, you need to have an open mindset. And I’m not sure if this really can be the case. If you coach someone from your own team on performance data, or performance insights,

Britta Lorenz
yeah, that’s a tricky one. Also, to keep the borders I mean, you have to be really strict otherwise, it’s, and it also has a taste to it. Sometimes if you open up as the coachee, you always have Okay, what is my manager gonna think about that? Or? So you always have to think about those implications as well. But thank you so much, Stefan, you can

Stefan Funk
you can still have coaching conversations, right? But but not, but not on the performance on the numbers on the financial side, but maybe maybe on professional development, you can coach your people. That’s that’s a fantastic opportunity for that manager to coach your people in terms of professional development. Where do you want to be in five years from now? Yeah. Perfect example.

Britta Lorenz
So Stefan, to be cautious of time, we have just a couple of minutes left, your three tips you would give anyone out there who wants to establish a coaching program or a coaching culture? What are the top three.

Stefan Funk
So if you if you specifically look at at a coaching program that you would like to implement within the senior sales folks, first start with identifying the right matrix. So start thinking about the insights that you want to provide within within a data driven coaching program. So that’s, that’s, I think it’s key. Because otherwise, you won’t know what what what what people should talk about in a coaching session. So what what are the key metrics? What are the key performance drivers? Right, and how to do the benchmarking, right, really do deep, deep analyzes of how performance is being measured right now in your organization, and it might differ across industries across regions across. So you might have at the end of the day, kind of metrics and and kind of dedicated performance or data insights a model for for some of your for some of your regions and industries and, and other portfolio related topics, then bringing in the sales managers into the conversation at the very beginning, because they need to act as kind of ambassadors for your program, they need to understand the value, they need to embrace coaching as kind of as a kind of tool and technique, that that really can help drive performance within their teams. Because otherwise, if they are not behind this idea of data driven coaching, or at least coaching, they will never send people to these kind of programs. Now. And thirdly, I would say continuous, continuous measurement. So meaning that you really, on a continuous basis measure the impact of your program. Yeah, really on the financial side, in order to prove that the things that you’re doing with data driven coaching or with coaching overall, really works, because this can then be used as a kind of trigger for those who are still asking about the value of coaching, to convince them that this is a good thing to to consider and to move forward with.

Britta Lorenz
Thank you so much, Stefan. I think I love I mean, I love the ambassador aspect, and also the metrics and impact part. I think we can have a whole different conversation one more time about impact metrics, what we should have a look at when we are doing coaching. So maybe we should mark that for another time.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, of course.

Britta Lorenz
JOHN, do you have any questions you want to ask Stephen before we close it off?

The Collaborator
I want to be sensitive to time as well. And I think we should chat with Stefan 30 more times because there was 5 million areas. We could go in. Stefan you can’t hang up. We’re going to keep talking That was a brilliant session, amazing questions and amazing insight. So, no

Stefan Funk
thank you. Well,

Britta Lorenz
thank you Stefan for your time and all your insights and we definitely gonna catch up soon again. Thank you.

Stefan Funk
Fantastic was a pleasure. Thank you so much, guys.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you.

Unknown Speaker
Have a great one.

Unknown Speaker
Bye bye bye