You’ve tried team meetings, and you’ve assigned reading. You’ve developed and tracked goals. You’ve tried everything you can think of, and you still feel like your team isn’t living up to its full potential.
Sales coaching could be the answer.
Let’s take a look at what effective sales coaching is, how it differs from traditional sales training, and explore some sales coaching tips that work.
What Effective Sales Coaching Is
Sales coaching is the process of working with a sales team to improve their performance to deliver consistent results and success. Effective sales coaching is individualized and designed to create a mindset shift for each person — one that embraces the pursuit of excellence, the achievement of individual and organizational goals and an outcome of more frequent and higher-value sales conversions.
When you intentionally focus on coaching a sales team, you will see a boost in productivity and a strong ROI. More importantly, when you leverage sales coaching best practices, you will develop a sales leadership pipeline that will contribute to team consistency, motivation and results.
What Effective Sales Coaching Is Not
Using sales coaching tips that truly work can be transformative as long as you avoid these misconceptions. Coaching should embrace the whole team, not just low performers or recent hires. Including everyone — with programs suitable for each individual’s experience level — can increase motivation and improve culture as the entire salesforce rows together. This focus on motivation and culture means that coaching should be supportive and not confrontational.
Coaching a Sales Team vs. Training
Training and coaching are two different sales improvement strategies that are most effective when used together. Sales team training focuses on tools, techniques and skills that will improve performance in a specific role. Coaching sales teams, on the other hand, involves personalized work for the unique needs of each salesperson.
When you combine training and coaching programs, you upskill your team with the tools and tactics they need while also maximizing the potential of each person.
5 Proven Sales Coaching Tips
1. Get Team Buy-in
Whenever you are managing organizational change, getting team buy-in is critical. When those changes involve learning new skills or changing mindsets, failure to enlist your team will undermine any results you had hoped to see.
Before starting a coaching program, meet with your team for an open discussion. Start with the why behind your decision and then explain how the program will work and the reasoning behind the methodologies. Next, share the ideal outcomes.
Finally, ask for feedback and listen. Allowing your team to raise concerns, provide suggestions and simply share how they feel about the idea allows them to be contributors to the program.
2. Ask Sales Leaders How They Feel They Can Improve
Getting team buy-in also happens at the individual level. As a precursor to launching an effective sales coaching program, meet one-on-one with each team member and ask them to evaluate their skills and knowledge — remembering to discuss both strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that this is not a performance review but an evaluation of how coaching can help them leverage their strengths and improve their weaknesses to benefit the company and themselves.
3. Set Goals and Maintain Accountability
Collaborate with each salesperson to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound)for them based on the expected outcomes of the coaching program. Then, establish accountability methodologies. These can be things your salesperson does themselves or things you can do. For example, they can provide weekly reports on their progress or you can monitor their performance and improvements in your CRM. This data is also very helpful during ongoing coaching conversations.
The best sales coaching programs will include accountability homework assignments for the student to complete and return. Journaling, self-surveys, assessments and other exercises provide the opportunity to reflect on what has been learned and create a long-term mindset shift instead of just memorizing facts.
4. Schedule Weekly Coaching Time
Hopefully, you and your team are committed to the process. However, one of the most important sales coaching techniques is for both the coach and the student to schedule weekly sessions. This time should be set in stone and not be canceled or rescheduled except when absolutely necessary.
You and your team should prepare for these meetings. Salespeople should have completed assignments, a list of any obstacles they face and a self-evaluation of what went well and what didn’t during the previous week. The sales manager should keep a list of powerful coaching questions to steer a meaningful conversation.
5. Celebrate Successes
Just as positive reinforcement is important for raising children and pets, celebrating success during coaching is vital. A key best practice to remember is to celebrate early, and small wins and then continue to recognize achievements, wins and successes.
Although you may intuitively know when and how to celebrate success, defining milestones before the coaching journey begins can amplify the impact. With prior planning, you can identify milestones both related directly to the program, such as completing a module and to sales performance improvements, such as holding more sales meetings than the previous average.
Although these milestones will naturally fall around the goals identified at the beginning of the coaching process, larger goals should be broken into smaller or even micro-goals.
Successful Sales Coaching Doesn’t Come Easy
As a sales team leader, you juggle many responsibilities. Even though performance development is important, it isn’t always easy to add effective sales coaching to your already crowded to-do list. You might miss offering the right sales coaching tips at the right time, try to use the same coaching techniques with everyone on the team or find yourself focusing on the negatives.
However, there are resources to help you effectively improve your individual reps’ skills, identify their growth opportunities and evolve your team. At XINNIX®, The Academy of Excellence, we believe that through excellence, there are infinite possibilities.
We want to share those possibilities with you.
- Identify key areas that prevent your sales team from succeeding
- Get insight on sales training best practices
- Learn how to avoid mistakes that hinder your operations
- And plenty more!