What is Sales Coaching?
Sales coaching is the gap between onboarding and, ideally, ongoing sales training. If you’re not regularly training your teams that’s an entirely separate issue and you need to sort that out. Coaching and training are pivotal pieces of successful sales teams and you can’t have one without the other.
Sales coaching should be an ongoing, dynamic process that involves evaluating and mentoring a sales rep. These sessions should be on an individual basis with the goal of enhancing their performance, driving consistent results, AND their personal development. Coaches should be pushing reps to identify and address their performance gaps.
Unlike training or onboarding, sales coaching is a continuous process. The goal is to transform a rep from a salesperson to a trusted advisor for your clients.
Why is Sales Coaching Important?
Coaching is crucial in driving sales performance. While it can be important at times to teach new skills, coaching should be about enhancing existing skills and making sure each rep is on the path to becoming an advisor for your clients.
Without it, you’re hanging your reps and your targets out to dry. Effective sales coaching directly impacts your bottom line by improving quota attainment, deal size, close rates, and most importantly, individual job satisfaction.
Additionally, you’ve probably noticed the high turnover rates in sales roles. Did you know lacking a coaching program could be exacerbating the issue? According to a study published by the Conference Board in 2022, 58% of employees said they would leave their current role if they did not have development opportunities presented to them.
Understanding the two sides of Sales Coaching
There are two key pieces of sales coaching. First is the ability and willingness of the rep to be coachable and second the ability of management to provide effective coaching. A strong coaching platform must have both.
The Salesperson’s Role
Salespeople, obviously, play a major role in effective coaching. Despite their expressed desire for coaching, many still resist it due to the misconceptions about its implications. Suggesting coaching means you’re a bad rep is what makes you a bad rep. It is critical for sellers to embrace coaching as a tool for both skill enhancement and professional development rather than as a sign of poor performance.
On the flip side, sales managers and sales leaders often misunderstand what effective coaching looks like. Coaching should not be performance reviews or criticism. Sales coaching should be a constructive process that focuses on develops and supporting a seller. The goal should be to enhance their skills and foster a positive work environment rather than a reminder of the things they did wrong.
Impact of Coaching on Sales Performance
There’s a significant gap between the perception and actual levels of coaching in sales. Our recent Sales Coaching and Quota Attainment report revealed that 80% of sales managers believe they provide adequate coaching, while less than 50% of salespeople feel they receive it. This disparity highlights the need for a clearer understanding and implementation of effective sales coaching practices.
Coaching and Quota Attainment
The research also reveled a direct correlation between coaching and quota attainment. Sales organizations that regularly invest in coaching not only improve their teams skills but also increasing the likelihood of their teams hitting sales targets.
Maximizing Training Investments
Sales coaching helps to maximize the investment of the sales training. You’ve spent money on training your team, but without consistent reinforcement, there is a high likelihood they will revert back to their old methods quickly. Gartner research indicates that 70% of information learned in a training is lost in a week, and 87% is forgotten in a month. Coaching helps to counter that, ensuring that learned skills are reinforced.
Steps to foster a coaching culture
Sales leaders, managers, and coaches should be trained in effective coaching techniques. Not all great sellers make great leaders or coaches. Coaches must move deeper than performance reviews to effective supportive and developmental approaches.
Encourage salespeople to actively engage in the coaching process. Emphasize self-reflection and being open to improvement. If you get any pushback, you should evaluate for a potential culture fit issue.
Regular feedback and Support
Implement a system for ongoing feedback and support. Limiting coaching to periodic reviews can hinder the traction of your coaching program.
Cultivating a Safe Environment
Create an atmosphere where salespeople feel comfortable discussing challenges and seeking guidance without fear of criticism. Again, the more open to improvement sellers are the more successful your coaching program and thus your teams will be.
Elevating Sales Coaching
We’re long overdue for a revamp to sales coaching. Start fostering a collaborative, supportive, and improvement focused coaching culture and you’ll start to unlock your team’s full potential. Focus on treating each team member as a valuable asset working towards a common goal rather than focusing on the numbers.