April 9, 2020

Sales coaching techniques: a guide

Sales managers are tasked with not only leading their teams, but providing them with all the resources and support they need to develop trust with buyers and shorten sales cycles. That’s why, in addition to training and sales content to keep sales representatives at the top of their game, one-on-one coaching sessions are an essential part of sales enablement. 

Coaching is more of a challenge today, with sales reps often working remotely from their home offices. This makes in-person sales coaching an impossibility, but a simple shift in techniques will ensure effective sales coaching, regardless of when or where it’s done. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to implement a successful coaching culture for a virtual workforce, as well as the tools and techniques leaders should leverage to boost reps’ selling skills, knowledge and overall performance.

What is sales coaching?

Sales coaching involves providing ongoing instruction and advice to develop sales skills. Like any other type of coaching, it involves someone in a leadership position — typically a sales manager — guiding individual team members to optimize performance. The goal is to boost the success of sales reps, and therefore the success of the team and organization as a whole. 

To find this success, sales managers must be hands-on in their approach to developing sellers’ skills. This means working with reps to overcome challenges by reinforcing behaviors that have a positive impact and correcting poor or ineffective behaviors.

Creating a sales coaching program

Having a formal coaching approach is proven to offer better results than an informal one. When developing a program, consider your business goals and align your approach to them, considering how coaching can help sellers achieve specific objectives. Without clear goals, sellers will fail to grasp their contribution and value, resulting in lower productivity and performance.

Sales coaching consists primarily of regular one-on-one meetings between coach and rep. These one-on-ones can take place in person or virtually. Fortunately, there is a slew of virtual conference solutions that make face-to-face interactions possible when an in-person gathering isn’t. The frequency of these meetings is typically left up to the manager, but it’s also the manager’s responsibility to uphold that cadence. Sticking to the schedule holds both the manager and rep accountable.

You may experience some initial resistance if regular coaching is a new concept at your organization, so start small. Once reps have bought into the idea, continue developing the plan from there. An iterative approach has a higher likelihood of success than trying to achieve all your goals right away. 

Finally, keep your program agile and be prepared to adapt. You can plan all you want, but as we’ve learned especially as of late, things won’t always move forward according to plan. Priorities may shift, new campaigns or products may be introduced and buyer needs and interests may change. 

Successful sales coaching techniques

Once you’ve got your formalized coaching program in place, it’s time for execution. Even the most thorough and detailed strategy can fail if not carried out properly. 

The following are some sales coaching tips for making the biggest impact on your sales organization:

Personalize. Every member of your team is unique; they have different skill sets, preferences, learning styles, experience levels and professional needs. An effective sales coach takes these differences into account to customize their approach for each rep. Generic advice presented in the same format for the entire team will likely fall on deaf ears. 

Ask, don’t tell. How can you understand what your salesforce needs if you don’t ask? Listen to sellers and ask them questions in your coaching sessions to guide the conversation if needed. Questions like the following can stimulate conversation and get to the heart of any issues:

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • Why do you think this is a challenge?
  • What do you need to do to overcome this challenge?
  • What resources would help you overcome this challenge?
  • What is an example of a recent success you’ve experienced?
  • What did you do differently that you think brought on that success?

Encourage collaboration. The relationship between manager and seller is critical in the coaching process, but feedback from fellow reps can also have a tremendous impact on motivation and sales performance. In the spirit of teamwork, advise sellers to consult with one another, reviewing each other’s pitches and sharing best practices.    

Reinforce. Depending on the coaching cadence, there may be large gaps in time where sales managers don’t talk to their reps individually. Ongoing training is all the more critical during this time to keep hot topics fresh and ensure feedback and guidance sticks in the long term. Sales certification programs serve as a test of knowledge and sales skills and demonstrate a rep’s level of experience to leadership.

Assess. Regardless of the one-on-one frequency with reps, sales leaders should be analyzing performance on an ongoing basis to inform coaching sessions moving forward. Coaches are able to identify areas for improvement to discuss live with a rep in future meetings and work together to find ways to progress.

Sales training tools for coaching

Showpad is a leading sales enablement platform, taking both sales training and coaching to the next level. A tool for sales reps, sales managers and even marketing to use collectively, Showpad streamlines sales processes to engage and enable sales teams. 

The Showpad Coach Manager Hub is a sales manager’s best friend — the centralized dashboard provides visibility into sellers’ progress, from completed training courses to video practice pitches.

Learn more about Showpad Coach and how the Showpad platform empowers every member of your sales organization by contacting us today.

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The Total Economic Impact™ of Showpad

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