No one grows as a leader without the support and mentorship of others. That’s why effective sales coaching is critical to managers and representatives. What defines sales coaching? Sales coaching is the process of developing and accelerating a rep’s performance by incorporating behavioral changes. This practice focuses on helping a rep or manager take their knowledge, experience, and ability to the next level by finding the best ways to enhance that person’s skill, wisdom, and talent. It’s clear that sales coaching is a ‘must-have’ activity in any organization’s arsenal.
The purpose of sales coaching is to maximize the performance of sales teams by leveraging tools, messaging, training, and overall attitudes. The Corporate Executive Board Company explains that reps who receive just three hours of coaching a month can exceed goals by 7%, boosting revenue by 25% and increasing the average close rate by 70% The numbers don’t lie!
How can you tell if sales coaching is necessary for your team? The harsh reality is that more than half of B2B executives believe their employees don’t understand their company’s strategy. This is one of the main reasons sales coaching is so important – it allows leaders to define business goals, outline workflow, and work one-on-one with reps to achieve stellar results. A study from the Harvard Business Review noted that coaching has a marginal impact on either the weakest or strongest performers in the sales organization. As such, successful sales coaching encourages a collaborative environment with mutual trust and respect, which focuses on the need to increase rep retention within an organization.
Let’s outline the path to effective sales coaching:
1. Establish Expectations
It’s the age-old question, ‘what are you hoping to accomplish within [insert time frame]?’ This also lays the foundation for creating coaching initiatives with you and your reps. When you can set up clear and simple goals, you create an inviting and transparent environment.
2. Create an Open-door Policy Environment
Good sales coaching means you are caring and engaging – you motivate and mentor reps in a timely manner because your peers trust you. Reps shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and come speak with you. When you meet with your sales team, ask open-ended questions to keep conversations lively. Then, actively listen to what your reps have to say. Finally offer guidance and advice after each talk.
Examples of open-ended questions include:
- What did the lead say?
- How did the conversation go? What could’ve gone better?
- What steps would you take next?
3. Use Data Visuals
The industry has seen a recent surge in data visuals, and can be a great technique for sales coaching. When you have a clear understanding of showing your team sales goals outlined or reach, you will be able to set a standard for reaching success. The best training methods have visual elements show you can measure and repeat results – the numbers should drive sales training.
You can use dashboards to visual trends and see rep activity. Collect and analyze this data so you can see new opportunities for coaching and improvement.
4. Sales Coaching 101: Be Patient and Consistent
Change takes time and there’s not nearly enough hours in the day for reps to pick up new skills and change their behavior. A one-time meetup/session won’t cut it, given that 87% of training content is forgotten within weeks. You should set up weekly, bi-weekly or monthly coaching – depending on the individual rep’s opportunity – to keep up with the momentum of the one-on-one relationship you’re constantly trying to shape.
Becoming a great sales coach requires time and dedication. However, it’s worthwhile in terms of business impact and the satisfaction of seeing your reps’ skills and confidence grow. When it comes to sales coaching, both the approach and results can be erratic so there’s a few things to keep in time that are essential to becoming a successful sales coach, including: time to coach; understanding of this specific role, access to tools and resources, ability to lead great conversation, keeping up with rep relationships and, of course, remaining inspiring and patient.