9 Best Practices for Sales Coaching

March 13, 2017 Matthew Cook

It’s widely recognized that sales coaching has many benefits: it can improve sales performance, productivity, and efficiency, while increasing sales and revenue. It keeps sales people’s skills sharp and helps them learn new skills, boosts motivation and morale, and helps reps become the best sellers they can be.

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Even though sales managers understand these benefits, many still struggle with how best to implement a coaching program and maximize its results.

To ensure your coaching program achieves the desired results, use these best practices.

1. Customization

Your sales people differ in many ways, from their ages and skill level to their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, sales coaching must be highly customized based on the individual’s needs and requirements.

One-on-one meetings are ideal to ensure that all sales people not only get the attention that they deserve but to ensure that their coaching receives the customization it needs to generate better results.

2. Space out Learning Sessions

Often, sales managers make the mistake of cramming sales coaching in a two-day seminar. They use the “pasta” method: they throw out a lot of information in a short period of time and see what sticks. This isn’t effective.

Coaching sessions should be spaced out over a longer period of time to facilitate learning. In addition, programs should be simplified to cut through the unnecessary clutter, so sales people can remember the most important information.

3. Reinforcement

Successful sales coaching requires constant reinforcement. It shouldn’t be a one-time activity or your sales people will forget the majority of what they learned. In fact, coaching should be performed on an ongoing basis in order to maximize long-term effectiveness.

4. Measurement

Though challenging due to the numerous variables that can influence results, measurement is crucial to sales coaching success. Using CRM data to track improvements once a training program has been implemented is the best way to measure the success of your program. A baseline and metrics should be established before the first coaching session begins. Adjust your coaching sessions as you see fit based on the results.

5. Development, Not Inspection

It can be tempting to focus on your sales person’s performance during coaching. However, this will only lead to defensiveness and anxiety. To get your sales people on board, and excited for, sales coaching, ensure that you avoid interrogations about performance at all cost. Instead, focus on development.

6. Regular Cadence

Sales managers are, no doubt, busy people. It can be easy to push off your coaching sessions when you’re swamped and your calendar is overflowing. However, once coaching begins, it’s vital that you make the time to dedicate to it in order to maximize results. The meetings should become routine. Frequency will ensure that the practice is embedded within the company culture and that the sessions become a valued support network that sales people can turn to when they seek guidance.

7. The Right Coaches

Identifying who will be the sales coach for your sales team is critical to the program’s success. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. Some organizations naturally choose their sales managers. Others seek the guidance of an external professional. And others still tap into their high performers.

8. Coaching the Coaches

The sales coach you choose, however, shouldn’t be left to their own devices, particularly if it’s an internal employee. This person will be influencing behaviours and thus will need to be well versed in the art of coaching and have deep understanding of your sales process and how it connects to business outcomes. Make sure that your coach has the training, knowledge, and tools required to do the job.

 9. Multiple Modalities

Finally, it’s important to understand that no one will learn effectively in the same way. Some will prefer to read materials while others will learn better by hearing the information through video. Others still will learn best with hands-on experience. It’s important to support your sales people’s success by offering multiple modalities in your sales coaching.

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