Managing and leading a team of sales representatives to perform well is a big challenge. But what if almost all of your sales reps hit their numbers consistently? Research from CSO Insights shows that 94% of reps meet their quotas with great sales coaching. In this article, we’ll discuss what sales coaching is and how to apply it for excellent sales results in your company.
Let’s get started!
Sales coaching is the process of helping sales reps improve their skills, confidence, and goals — such as individual or team quotas. Executives and sales managers often invest in sales mentoring to maximize sales performance across their entire team. This has a residual effect on the organization as a whole. Sales coaching includes:
The type of sales coaching available varies depending on the needs of the sales team. It can be done in person, over the phone, or via video conference. Sales coaches can work with reps one on one or with entire groups at the same time depending on the exercises and topics covered.
A sales manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure their reps are continually improving. To do this, the manager must provide them with the right skills and tools. That means that sales coaching is essential. It helps reps get better via repetition, practice, feedback and exposure to new sales frameworks.
Furthermore, sales managers can use feedback during coaching to identify areas of the sales process that need improvement. According to Spotio, great sales coaching can boost your sales team’s win rate by 29% — meaning it can add a major boost to your bottom line.
To have a better grasp of what sales coaching is, here are some specific examples:
As a sales manager, you should develop and run an organized sales coaching process that benefits your entire team equally. You must be able to provide content and applications to coach effectively all around the clock, not just when it’s needed.
Below are the most basic activities that sales coaches should conduct on a daily, weekly and monthly timeline.
Having a consistent sales coach process will not only help guide all sales teams on the same level, but will also help onboard new sales managers. Consistent metrics support tracking and analyzing performances.
Effective sales management begins with understanding your company structure and team dynamic. Below are a few sales coaching techniques to level up your management skills.
It’s crucial to build an environment of trust within your team and with your individual sales representatives. If your rep doesn’t believe you have their best interest in mind, then it’s less likely they’ll come to you to seek advice and support.
Authenticity is key — be transparent with your team about past experiences and difficulties that they can relate to in their position. Sharing steps on how you solved problems in the past can help you relate to your reps and help them feel more supported.
Scheduling one-on-one meetings with your reps along with team meetings will allow time to discuss progress, objectives, areas of improvement and any questions they may have for you.
It’s also a good time for you to ask them questions to help find the source of an ongoing problem. This is a useful way to “teach but not tell” your reps what they should do. These meetings can also help you get to know your reps’ personalities and improve your professional relationship.
Within those one-on-one meetings, you and your rep should work out an action plan to achieve their goals within their position. This can be done quarterly and/or when they first jump onto your team. These action plans should include:
Share the action plan document with your reps and revisit it every check-in to evaluate progress.
Conducting a self-evaluation is a great starting point for a one-on-one agenda or team meeting. A self-evaluation allows your reps time to reflect on their current performance and reveal what they believe they need to improve on.
Some questions you may ask them to help navigate self-evaluation include:
These questions can help steer the conversation with your reps and can influence the next action plan you make with them.
In this industry, there’s always room to learn from others, even as a sales manager. Notice a couple of your sales reps are doing especially well with prospecting? Is there a particular strategy or technique they’re using that you haven’t seen before?
Have them present their strategy to the rest of your team in a team meeting. This is valuable for team connection and allows the chance for your team to build an even more effective strategy from the one presented. Learning from coworkers can be just as effective as learning from a team leader.
Improving your team’s sales month over month is no easy task. Sales incentives are one way to motivate your team to exceed their goals. Incentives may include:
Check to make sure your company allows for sale incentives before building out a sales incentive program. Ask your team for feedback on the program and incentives so you know which rewards mean the most to them.
The goal of developing your sales team coaching abilities is to increase your impact on your representatives’ individual development. Use these best practices as a guide when developing your instructional process.
One size does not fit all when it comes to sales coaching. Not every rep will respond to the same motivation triggers. Sure, most sales reps will be money motivated, but that does not mean that their specific income goals are the same. Someone may be focused on family expenses, for example, while another person wants to pay off student loans.
To truly motivate your sales team, you need to uncover their core drives. In order to do that, you can ask them questions like:
It’s important to break through a fixed mindset to allow for positive growth and development.
For example, “if you have a rep who that’s stuck in a negative mindset, send them a motivational video to get them back into a positive mindset.” – Morgan J Ingram
Or you may start your team meetings with a motivational quote discussion. Tap into what your individual reps need for motivation and deliver when required.
|“If you have a rep who is stuck in a negative mindset, send them a motivational video to get them back into a positive mindset.”
Studies show that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative feedback, so aim to give three times as much positive feedback than negative. It also helps morale, which is incredibly important in sales.
Think of it this way: Salespeople deal with rejection and negativity all day long. It’s hard enough to maintain motivation and positivity in this environment, so as a sales manager, you need to be a source of inspiration and encouragement. By focusing on the good things your reps are doing, they’ll be encouraged to keep performing well and cement good habits in their minds.
There is a misconception that the only people who need coaching are poor performers. After all, high performers are naturally skilled and motivated, right? Well, it turns out that sales is a largely learned skill. Some people may have a head start in terms of a knack for selling, but they still need coaching.
Even if someone is exceeding their sales objectives every quarter, there is always room for improvement. If you like the way your best salespeople are performing now, you’ll absolutely love their new production numbers with consistent coaching.
Sales coaching and sales management are similar in some ways. In both contexts, you’re responsible for getting better results out of your team. However, in practice, they can be very different roles with unique approaches to helping your reps.
|“Recording cold calls and analyzing them afterward is an effective way to coach.”
If you’re tasked with performing both of these roles, it’s best to separate them as best you can. Feel free to dive into reviews of phone calls with reps when you’re in coaching mode. “Recording cold calls and analyzing them afterward is an effective way to coach.” – Jack Knight.
When you put your sales manager hat back on, schedule time for things like career development, territory assignments and overall performance metrics.
Technology is an integral part of any company’s sales process. Not only should you leverage technology for interacting with and selling to customers, but internally with your team as well.
For instance, you can use platforms like NetSuite to gain insights into your team’s sales performance from data-driven metrics. Video platforms can be used to distribute sales coach training to reps even if they are not located at your main office. By taking advantage of technology, you can speed up your sales process, coaching and overall timeline to achieve key objectives.
Asking questions in discussions rather than telling your reps what they should do will help them develop more self-awareness of their performance. In your one-on-ones, you can start by asking your rep a couple of questions to see how they’re doing and if there is anything they would like to discuss.
Below are a few good questions to start with:
Asking targeted questions about an issue they’ve run into will help them better recognize what they should do and what they’ll want to do the next time a similar problem arises.
Regular check-ins work well for addressing areas of improvement or habits that need breaking, but they may be forgotten about between meetings. Reinforce what you’ve discussed in team meetings with a shared library of resources that can help reps when you’re not available.
Your library should include:
Having a readily available resource hub will push your team to take initiative in improving their sales skill set and bring in better results month over month.
To be an effective sales manager, it’s better to focus on one area of improvement rather than multiple at the same time. You’ll see much quicker and better results this way. If you overload your rep with trying to improve multiple areas, you won’t see as much measurable progress and you’ll end up with a discouraged employee.
If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage or improve it, so it’s vital to track all sales metrics before, during and after coaching your sales reps. It’ll help you evaluate your own performance as well as the reps’ commitment to improvement.
To measure coaching impact on rep performance, you can track the following metrics:
Tracking these metrics will uncover trends and common challenges that your team is having and allow you to develop and offer specific solutions to fix the issues.
Observational metrics involve higher-standing managers observing sales managers to see how effective the current sales coaching process is and how it’s being used. For example, if you notice a part of the training course is not being used often, it’s probably not helpful to the sales reps and therefore could be removed.
Another example is if a whole team fails to meet quarterly goals. A director can look to see how the sales manager interpreted the company’s coaching process, and whether or not their interpretation affected their reps’ performance.
You can use company culture indicators to gauge sales coaching effectiveness. These metrics include:
The metrics above can provide insight into how effective the current sales coaching process is at your company, and what can be done to continue to motivate reps to reach their goals and see improvements.
Sales coaching is an excellent investment in your team. However, it’s not easy to do at a high level. That’s why sales managers should be aware of common challenges and pitfalls to overcome. Examples include:
Sales coaching is an art form. To be great, a sales coach must be authoritative and insistent enough to evoke behavior change in their team. On the other hand, sales reps must feel that they can open up to the sales coach and discuss their weaknesses transparently.
Don’t worry — even if this dual role does not come naturally to you, it can be learned just like sales. Therefore, you must “train the trainers” first and foremost. Sandler Training’s Head of Global Strategy and Growth, Damon Jones, suggests that an effective sales coaching program should “develop and certify coaches before they engage with reps.”
As a sales manager, there are a lot of things on your plate. But one of the priorities that should always come first is coaching your team. Whether you do it yourself or hire an outside sales coach, it can boost motivation, productivity, and ultimate sales revenue. That way, your business continues to win new deals and grow faster than the competition.