What is sales coaching?

Sales coaching builds on the training your sales reps already have and focuses on refining specific skills and improving gaps in performance. Coaching also provides a space to reinforce or highlight positive behaviors and skills. It should be iterative and personalized so every rep is best supported to effectively reach their personal sales goals while contributing to the performance of their entire team.

The difference between sales training and coaching

If your company already has a successful sales training program, you may wonder how sales coaching is any different. The reality is that coaching and training are not identical methods of training. Instead, they are connected processes that build off of one another. 

For example, sales training topics are usually centered around teaching your sellers about your products and what marketing techniques have been most successful in the past. This is a helpful collection of basic knowledge, but information that worked previously may become outdated or obsolete rather quickly. 

Coaching adds another layer to the foundational knowledge provided in training.Unlike other sales training methods that deliver concise knowledge to an entire group or team, coaching is individually tailored to each seller. It’s a lot like making a tray of cupcakes. If training is the batter — uniform and fundamentally necessary — then coaching is the toppings, endlessly varied and uniquely delicious.

Examples of sales coaching

Sales coaching can look different to each seller, depending on the individual and the experience and knowledge they may already have. In truth, the sky’s the limit when it comes to figuring out what approach works best for your sellers’ sales coaching. Best practices can include:

  • Evaluating a seller’s pitch delivery for positive attributes, as well as areas of improvement.
  • Assessing a rep’s email communication with a prospective customer and locating points of improvement throughout the buyer’s experience.
  • Debriefing with a seller after a prospect meeting to discuss what worked and what didn’t.

Ultimately, there is no one way to coach a seller. Your prospects and customers come with their own unique challenges, and coaching can prepare your reps to address them.

What does a sales coach do?

A sales coach is not simply another trainer or built-in professional mentor for your entire sales team. The job of a sales coach is to build relationships with sellers in order to improve their performance over time. After all, it is simpler to understand where a rep’s success comes naturally, and where it doesn’t, when you understand a bit more about who they are as individuals.

The ongoing education and support provided by a coach can help reps improve in whatever areas they may need without the added pressure of direct comparison to their coworkers. Instead, coaches use unique and personalized sales coaching questions to foster a relationship that’s built on trust and empathy with sellers. As sales coaches create a safe and collaborative environment for performance enhancement, their coaching will vary between sellers. Because no two sales reps are the same, individual sales coaching is a necessary tool for growth and development.

Benefits of sales coaching

Coaching improves productivity, engagement, retention, performance, and revenue.A reluctant sales manager may be wondering, “Why is sales coaching important?” To comprehensively answer this question, it’s  crucial to note that coaching can do more than offer a supportive ear to your sellers. The benefits of coaching can bring about potential wins for the entire business, including:

  • Improved productivity: Coaching can cover various topics that extend beyond the skills that are needed to interact with prospects. Proper sales coaching often leads to more efficient work, especially if a rep’s coaching focuses on process improvement.  
  • Increased engagement: A one-on-one conversation is more inviting than reading an email or completing another training lesson. A coach can act as a meaningful connection to your sales team, one that can help make everyone feel both helpful and encouraged.
  • Decreased turnover: It’s no great secret that employees who feel heard and supported are more likely to stay at their current job. Sales coaching statistics support this idea with studies showing that retention increases by more than 20% in companies with coaching programs.
  • Better performance: A good coach can see where a rep already succeeds and where some performance assistance is needed. Coaching can quickly highlight a seller’s blindspots and assist them in improving in those areas.
  • Revenue growth: Your sellers’ bottom line is your bottom line, and that’s where a coach can help. Businesses that invest resources into continuously improving their sellers reap the benefits. In 2018, companies that employed effective sales coaching saw annual revenue growth of 16.7%.

Common coaching techniques

Sales coaching is as widely varied as the companies that utilize it. That’s why it’s important to understand the many options available to you as you start incorporating a sales coaching program into your team’s ongoing training. 

In the end, only you will know which  sales coaching models are most helpful for you and your reps. Trial and error can be frustrating and time-consuming, so it can be helpful to explore what has worked for others. Some of the most common and effective  sales coaching techniques are: 

  • Sales performance coaching: You hired your reps for a reason, but no professional is beyond improvement. Performance coaching is a formal space that invites reps and supervisors to sit down and review what areas a rep excels in, as well as where they can improve. 
  • Sales skills coaching: Overall goal-setting and improvement is great, but meeting specific prospect needs is better. Sales skills coaching gets into the nitty-gritty of buyer-rep interactions and focuses on in-the-moment improvements. 
  • 1:1 coaching: This type of sales coaching incorporates consistent, uplifting conversations with each of your reps. Individual sales coaching offers a space for sellers to voice their concerns and receive tailored feedback that takes into account their own apprehensions and ideas. 

Tips for effective coaching

Once you have a game plan and have prepared your team for a new coaching process, it’s time to put everything into action. For some leaders this can be the most daunting part, as  the addition of a sales coaching program may come with bumps and growing pains. For the smoothest transition possible we recommend:

  • Mixing up coaching styles: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — no two sales reps will respond to the same coaching style the same way. Trying a variety of approaches will allow you to find what style works best for each rep.
  • Using data: If you are unsure how effective an approach is, check your numbers. Have your reps improved or not? If progress is stagnant, it may be best to try another method. 
  • Defining goals and objectives: Not only are goals helpful for reps looking to measure progress, but clear objectives have also been shown to help employees feel more engaged during the coaching process. This gives them a clear plan and path that they need to work toward. 
  • Scheduling check-ins: A set time each week, month, or quarter to chat with your reps one-on-one can provide insight into the strategies that are working best. It’s also a great way to continue building the relationship and improving performance over time.
  • Providing helpful resources: Sometimes, the most effective sales coaching won’t come from you! Give your reps access to outside training materials and education that they can access outside of coaching sessions. 

While finding the right sales coaching techniques for your sellers will take time, it will be worthwhile in the long run.

When to consider using sales coaching software

It’s not just managers and executives who want the benefits of sales coaching. Your reps do, too! More than 75% of sales employees say they want to experience the performance and work culture benefits of coaching. However, despite the benefits and preferences from employees most managers only spend about 5% of their time coaching.

It makes sense. Managing a sales team is a demanding job, and it can be hard to carve out time to provide coaching. Not only that, but many managers may not have access to the tools and resources necessary for delivering truly engaging feedback.

In this case, sales coaching software comes to the rescue. This type of software includes features that assess employee performance, supply coaching plans, and offer training in areas that need improvement. Online sales coaching provides flexibility and ease of access to your team’s ongoing training efforts without cutting corners on the quality or customization of the feedback.

Deliver personalized coaching with Seismic

Your sales team is ready to push off from standardized training and surface-level feedback. Let Seismic help you take the next step. Seismic’s coaching solution offers the online training, practice, and individualized coaching needed to take your team to the next level. Schedule a demo today to find out how you can decrease ramp time, improve performance, and help sellers grow.