6 Ways to Improve your Sales Coaching

6 minute read
6 Ways to Improve your Sales Coaching

If you’re a Sales Coach, you know that the quality of coaching your reps receive can make or break their performance. That’s why it’s important to be intentional about how you coach and what methods work best with your team.

Sales Coaching is an often overlooked aspect of running a sales team, studies show that sales coaching can lead to an 88% increase in productivity and a 17%  increase in close rates.

But  studies show 45% of salespeople say they’re receiving less coaching than usual or no coaching at all since changing to working remotely.

State of Coaching Static- The Keen Smarketer

That makes Sales Coaching the most cost-effective productivity investment, but what is Sales Coaching and how do you do it?

Understanding Sales Coaching

An effective Sales Coaching strategy is a long term, iterative and data-driven plan to identify areas for improvement, prioritise them and implement structured training in a personal and individualised way. There’s no one size fits all approach, the whole purpose is to identify areas of weakness in each rep and build in a coaching strategy into their weekly routine.

"good coaching is a customized diagnosis of where this particular person is struggling and how this person likes to learn"
Mark Roberge
x-CRO Hubspot

Sales Coaching is the formal process that focuses on individual and group training by Sales Managers to improve sales rep performance.

Sales Coaching Activities

Sales Coaching tends to be given a large umbrella of activities associated with it but generally can be grouped into several activities that directly impact performance improvements:

  • Holding weekly catch-ups with reps to discuss any questions or issues
  • Listening to sales calls and discussing what was good and what needs improvement
  • Shadowing sales calls or meetings live to provide feedback immediately after
  • Reviewing email or live chat communications with prospects
  • Reviewing pipeline improvements with the rep
  • Reinforcing positive behaviours
  • Product training

What a Sales Coach does not do:

  • Tell reps to meet arbitrary KPI’s
  • Gives the same cookie-cutter advice to everyone
  • Ignores personal circumstances or experience

Benefits of Sales Coaching

1. Sales Coaching Improves Performance

Companies with a formal coaching process see 91.2% of overall quota attainment, as compared to 84.7% quota attainment for companies with an informal coaching process.

2. Sales Coaching Builds Trust

Spending time with reps to help them grow means they will learn more and earn more. This will improve the relationship between them over time and show the competence the Sales Coach has which in turn creates trust.

3. Sales Coaching Improves Satff Retention

As much at 60% of sales reps say they’re more likely to leave their job if their manager is a poor coach. More than two-thirds of employees reporting to a manager who is not a good coach are considering quitting their jobs.

Spending time developing your coaching ability will pay dividends over time, the more you improve your team the more trust and respect you will garner in return.

Effective Sales Coaching Tips

1. Build Trust

Making sales coaching a safe and welcoming activity for sales teams is crucial to its success. Sales Coaching is not about criticising low performers or enforcing arbitrary KPI’s, it should be about supporting reps to grow and learn.

Trust can’t grow in a vacuum, the old fashioned 1990’s sales manager that sits in his office and only walks the floor when something is wrong, won’t do well in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing sales arena. Spending time with the team allows for idea sharing, on the spot problem solving and a shared sense of accomplishment.

Sharing personal experience can provide context to situations and demonstrate the coaches competence. The best Sales Coaches have a wealth of stories to draw upon to help explain new processes or methodologies.

Setting goals can be a great way to drive performance but equally effective is having the rep set their own goals. Working collaboratively with reps to discuss what they think they should work on shows trust on the part of the Sales Coach and empowers reps to take control of their own learning.

Hold reps to account, setting clear expectations and then reviewing how the reps went shows there are consequences and shows the Sales Coach cares enough to pull the rep up on poor performance.

2. Be data driven

Data-driven decision making is what sets high performing teams apart. Spending time identifying the steps in the buyer’s journey that are important to the buyer allows you to modify your reps behaviour to align buyer expectations and the stages they go through in the buying cycle. Start off codifying the data you have already, like call volume per day, call duration, number of deals, gross conversion rate, number of demos/ pitches.

Data-driven accountability allows you to identify areas for improvement and see where your reps measure up to each other. This not only highlights laggards but often shows areas of excellence that can be shared with the team. Seeing which reps are getting the most appointments or have the best show rate or the highest lead to sale conversion rate will allow you to drill down into data on low performing reps as a comparison.

This will help you identify reasons for changes to deal velocity or close rates in real-time. You should be checking these statistics weekly but also assessing monthly and quarterly. Whilst there may be industry-specific trends or economic impacts, you can find where reps are sliding and bring them back on course before sales decline.

You might see reps responding too slowly to leads or skipping discovery calls or not personalising their outreach. You can compare against historical data for that rep or against historical data for other reps.

Get started by identifying the relevant metrics for your sales team).

3. Use multiple coaching styles

Sales requires a range of techniques and methodologies, so to Sales Coaching benefits from tailoring your approach to the induvidual.

Strategic coaching – this is the big-picture stuff, focusing on pipeline management, product or industry-specific performance and large scale strategy.

Observational coaching
this is the usual observation of reps in action. Giving feedback and suggestions on what to improve.

Motivational coaching – Probably the hardest of the three, motivating an individual or a team has enormous impacts on performance. This can include personal or team goals, rewards or team bonding.

4. Social proof training

How do you sell an idea to a salesperson? Make them think it’s their own idea. No seriously, much like conversational selling, the best way to get your point across is to turn it into a human and holistic discussion.

Salespeople are usually hyper independent, they don’t like being told what to do.

You’ll have much greater success if get their input and that of their peers. Not to say you should air the dirty laundry amongst the team but best practice exercises go a long way to get the message across. Say Sally gets a better discovery to demo rate than John and she has a really good closing statement that she thinks works wonders. John will be far more receptive to hearing that from Sally than from you.

You can create simple best practice sessions and pull in some or all of the team, asking the high performer to discuss what they do and then leading the discussion on how that can be replicated.

5. Create guides

Create resources for your team but be careful, Marketing teams report 75% of the content they generate go unused, so as a Sales Coach you can end up in the same pitfall where the reps either don’t see the value or can’t access the resource easily enough.

You can make your resources more effective quite simply by:

  • Make them digital – Yes, even in this day and age a lot of companies are still making hard copies of documents and sticking them on the rep’s desk. Instead look at tools like Slite, Asana or Click Up to bring a fresh look and make resources accessible from anywhere.
  • Make them relevant – There’s no point creating a resource if you haven’t discussed it with the team yet or got any sort of buy-in. Make sure resources underpin the other coaching activities and reinforce the desired behaviour.
  • Update them – don’t let any resources gather dust, create a review tracker and dust them off from time to time, if they’re no longer relevant then archive them.

There’s a lot to learn about marketing strategies but that’s all part of the journey, remember to break everything down into chunks, focusing on one strategy at a time. Once you understand the basics you can master more advanced techniques and ultimately represent your brand in the best way possible.

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