Sales Coaching: Definition, Types, Process, Importance, and History
Sales coaching is described as a formal process through which a sales manager improves the performance of their sales rep with the help of mentoring and constant evaluation in order to drive success. Sales coaching is done on a one-on-one basis and helps sales reps to diagnose their deficiencies, enables them to take responsibility for their work, and empowers them to achieve more.
There are three main types of sales coaching, namely strategic coaching, observational coaching, and motivational coaching. Strategic coaching is concerned more with numbers in which data is used and discussed to influence sales behavior. Observational coaching is done by observing the person being coached in actual selling situations and then they’re given feedback to improve their strategies and behavior. Motivational sales coaches motivate the coachees in different ways; such as with the help of goals, by using personal motivating factors, and by appealing to their emotions.
The process of sales coaching begins with establishing trust between the coach and the coachee. The sales manager’s coaching typically fails to bring out the best results unless they believe their manager has their best interests at heart. Regular one-on-one meetings are the second step of sales coaching during which the coach and the coachee discuss performance issues, areas of improvement, goals, and expectations. Sharing best practices that generate results is important when attempting to coach sales teams as well. Data must be used as part of the sales coaching process as well in order to motivate the coachees, to make them accountable to keep them focused.
Sales coaching is important because it promotes and helps with real-time learning. Sales managers and sales reps are involved in a fruitful conversation about real concerns regarding sales rather than just remembering the theory by heart without knowing how to apply it. It helps the sales reps to learn and practice new skills and seek support wherever needed. Sales coaching results in consistent growth and greater revenue generation.
The history of sales coaching started in the late 1800s. P.W. Searles discusses in his book in 1904 how salesmanship was taught to new recruiters at big companies which included things from communication to standing in front of the customer and handing out the pen to sign a deal. Sales coaching and training started gaining more importance during the industrial revolution and ultimately took the current shape.
So, what is sales coaching or how do you define sales coaching? The sales coaching definition is as follows: Sales coaching is a continuous process that happens between sales onboarding and sales training. It starts with the onset of the job and goes on as the sales training of the sales reps takes place. The sales managers who play the role of coach as well need to be different from traditional managers, that is they need to listen more and ask more questions to cultivate the key soft skills in their employees; such as negotiation and communication.
Sales coaching is individualized and inclusive and it happens through the constant evolution and mentoring of the coachee. Sales coaching empowers employees to help them grow and contribute to the success of the team. This type of coaching makes sales reps more responsible and accountable for their performance through self-reflective techniques. Sales coaching is designed in a way to help every sales rep have the support they need in order to reach their personal quota as well as to achieve team goals.
How Does Sales Coaching Work?
Sales coaching works by observing and evaluating the performance of a sales rep on a one-on-one basis in order to cultivate the skills and develop behaviors that lead to success. Sales coaching works by building confidence in sales reps and arms them with important 21st-century soft skills, such as communication and negotiation. Sales coaching is an ongoing process because every client is different in the world of sales and must not be treated in the same way as any other client. You need to tailor specific approaches in order to deal with each of your clients and that is what makes sales coaching a unique process.
Additionally, sales coaching works by addressing specific difficulties your team members are facing as well. For example, through confidence-building exercises for a rather shy sales rep, role-playing activities to teach to speak with confidence and authority on a sales call, and having a coaching conversation with a sales rep who takes too long to chase dead-end deals.
What Are the Types of Sales Coaching?
The types of sales coaching are essentially the different approaches used by sales coaches in order to deal with different performance issues. Three main types of sales coaching are given below.
Strategic coaching focuses on big-picture goals, i.e. what the sales team is trying to achieve. Strategic coaching is a type of coaching that is done by evaluating the data related to numbers, metrics, territory, and performance. This data is then used by the sales manager to influence the behavior of the sales rep and to cultivate the targeted skills and behavior.
Observational coaching is a type of coaching where the sales reps are observed in actual selling situations. They are then provided feedback and suggestions by the sales manager to help improve their performance. Observational coaching is proving to be crucial in reaching higher levels of performance.
Motivational coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on helping the coachee find their motivation and use it to accomplish their goals. Motivational coaching is done by motivating the sales reps by using different factors. Some of the factors include personal and team goals, appealing to the emotions of sales reps, and encouraging them to perform better for the sake of constant growth and development.
What Is the Process of Sales Coaching?
The process of sales coaching includes several different steps. The main steps of the sales coaching process are given below.
Establishing trust between the sales coach and the coachee so that the coachee is aware and sure that the coach has their best interests at heart.
Having regular one-on-one meetings between the sales representative and the sales leader or manager. The sales coach asks meaningful questions during these meetings in order to help the sales rep to diagnose the problem and find a workable solution.
Sharing knowledge and best practices of the successful sales representatives among the team members. It ranges from how to describe a product to the way they communicate, the style in which they present, or their particular email cadence.
Using data to inform the sales rep what kind of strategies and activities are bringing results and what do not. Making use of performance-related data to determine the kind of coaching a sales rep needs since top-level, mid-level, and bottom-level performers need different kinds of coaching from each other. Data shows the growth of sales reps as well from the day coaching started to the present time. Show that growth to coachees to build legitimacy.
Which Sales Coaching Techniques Are the Most Effective?
Effective sales coaching with the help of multiple sales coaching techniquesincreases sales performance by 8%, according to a research report by Gartner. Some of the most effective sales coaching techniques are given below.
Take care of the well-being of your sales reps, set clear boundaries for work, and ask open-ended questions about their day or week so that they stay motivated and remain productive.
Build trust among your sales reps with the help of authentic anecdotes and stories. The stories need to reflect the practices that succeeded as well as those that failed. Support sales reps with relatable narratives so that they know they are not the only ones struggling and tell them the ways with the help of which they are able to overcome those problems.
Record the sales calls and use them to analyze the conversation, track keywords, and identify market trends. Share the successful calls with struggling reps and include two types of calls while coaching: the best ones and those that include what not to do.
Encourage self-reflective practices in your coaching so that your sales reps are able to track their improvement. Do not jump on performance evaluation while you are having a conversation with your sales rep; instead, sit back and let your sales rep evaluate themselves. Ask open-ended questions to guide them through the process.
Let your sales rep set their own goals for improvement. Do not set areas of focus for them yourself. Your trainees are more committed to fulfilling the goals they have set for themselves.
Go with improving one area at a time instead of focusing on multiple areas of improvement at once. It makes the process of measuring progress easier and you do not end up being stalled and frustrated.
Make your sales rep create an action plan that includes the goals as well as the ways your trainees map out themselves to achieve those goals. A clearly defined timeline to achieve the goals needs to be a part of your coachee’s action plan as well.
Hold your sales rep accountable as they work in accordance with the action plan to achieve their goals. Proceed with accountability by asking questions such as what progress they have made this week, what goals they have achieved so far, and what kind of challenges they are facing during the process.
What Are Some Real-Life Examples of Sales Coaching?
The real-life examples of sales coaching are found in the studies done by various organizations that show by statistics how important sales coaching is if a leader wants their company to succeed. Some of those examples and stats are given below.
Being aware of sales coaching techniques and using them to help sales reps is extremely important if you want to be a good manager. 60% of sales reps report that they consider quitting their job if the manager they report to is not a good coach.
Sales reps who receive coaching for 30 minutes or less during a week have a win rate of 43% compared to those who receive no coaching. While those reps who receive as much as two hours of sales coaching per week have a win rate as high as 56%.
Companies that provide effective and ongoing coaching to their employees show a rapid increase in revenue up to 16.7%.
The largest U.S based privately owned company, Cargil, witnessed a massive change when they incorporated sales training as an ongoing program instead of something employees receive just when they join the organization. The benefits included a 30% increase in revenue among top performers, two times the volume reported in their large accounts, and they managed to acquire 10+ large accounts within just one business unit.
What Are the Benefits of Sales Coaching?
The benefits of sales coaching include increased ability to deal with problems, reinforced culture of learning and improvement, ability to understand the use of sales tools, ability to understand the company’s vision and products, and fueling healthy competition.
Sales coaching is more than a tool to help your sales rep to sell and generate more revenue for your company. It transforms the trainee inside and out and supports them in their holistic development when done the right way. Some of the benefits of sales coaching are given below.
Sales coaching provides real-time feedback to sales reps. Sales managers discuss the current issues and provide feedback which helps coachees deal with real problems more effectively and confidently.
Sales coaching helps reinforce a culture of learning and improvement. It provides a safe platform for sales reps where they are able to ask questions, discuss their confusion and practice new knowledge and skills without the fear of being judged.
Sales coaching helps sales reps understand the use of sales tools that are at their disposal.
Sales coaching helps your sales rep to know more about your company’s vision and your products. The more they adopt the vision and overall goals of your company as their own, the more effectively they are able to sell your company’s product or service.
Sales coaching fuels healthy competition among your employees instead of promoting a cut-throat competition that makes them jealous of each other. Healthy competition makes your sales reps excited to achieve their own goals while at the same time encouraging them to help others to achieve their goals as well.
What Are the Limitations of Sales Coaching?
Sales coaching has its limitations as well. Sales coaching does not always produce the result companies want it to produce despite spending billions of dollars on the training of sales reps. Some of the key limitations of sales coaching are given below.
A lot of time and resources of the company are consumed during the sales coaching process. The funds and time spent in coaching are useless when the trainees leave after receiving the training and join another company.
Opportunity cost is another limitation of sales coaching. It happens when the time spent in training sessions of the sales team is not monetized in closing multiple deals.
There is an ROI expected from the sales team that has undergone coaching. Sometimes only a few members of the team fulfill the ROI while others do not due to several personal and professional reasons. It results in a loss on the organization’s part.
The impact of training gradually fades after some time and the sales reps don’t benefit at all from such training despite spending a lot of funds on them in the case when training is a one-time event, as happens in many organizations. Thus, the training must be reinforced from time to time.
Sales coaching fails when companies have no idea how to measure the success of the sales coaching program. Have a performance evaluation system in place in order to track the improvement in employees’ performance and to hold them accountable.
What Are the Facts of Sales Coaching?
Some of the facts about sales coaching are given below.
Sales coaching is not about boosting sales only, as it is commonly believed. Effective sales coaching focuses on and helps achieve holistic growth of the coachee.
Sales coaching plays a role in improving sales reps’ communication and negotiation skills and helps them to have a clear idea of the company’s vision and goals as well.
A good sales coach takes care of the well-being of their sales reps by helping them create a perfect work-life balance while they work hard to achieve their personal and professional goals.
An effective sales coach does not explicitly tell what they need the coachees to improve and how. They instead help the coachees to take responsibility for their own learning after discovering their areas of improvement themselves.
Sales coaching is action-based and result-focused. Therefore, evaluation and accountability play an important role in keeping the sales reps motivated to achieve their target.
What Are the Myths About Sales Coaching?
There are many myths about sales coaching due to the lack of knowledge among people about it. Some of the common myths about sales coaching are given below.
Sales coaches must be extroverts and chatty. The truth is that sales coaching is more about listening than speaking and chatting.
High performers in the team of sales reps do not need sales coaching. This is not true because the sales process is constantly evolving and top performers need support in order to adjust to the latest sales trends in the market.
It’s not possible to measure sales training ROI. It is somewhat complex to measure the ROI of sales coaching, but it is possible by dividing the people in your department into two groups: one that has received training and the other that has not. Then the performance of both groups is measured after a certain period.
A single coaching session is enough to help your team of sales reps. It takes a constant reinforcement of the desired behavior and values and continuous evaluation for your coaching sessions to generate any outcome.
Salespeople are born, not made. Studies have found that it is possible to improve the performance of your sales team to a great extent with the help of ongoing coaching programs and by giving them a supportive and encouraging environment.
What Are the Principles of Sales Coaching?
The principles of sales coaching are important to know and understand so that the sales coaches and managers are able to use them to coach their sales reps in a better way. The main principles of sales coaching are given below.
Reciprocity. The sales reps want to reciprocate by working harder than before and by dedicating all their efforts to fulfill their team goals when a coach shows sincere effort and genuine interest in equipping the sales rep with valuable skills and knowledge.
Building trust and relationships. It is a common notion in the world of sales that people are more likely to buy from those sellers who they know and like already. The same thing is true when it comes to sales coaching. Spend some time to really get to know your trainees and build a relationship with them when you start the process of coaching in order to get the desired results from your coaching.
Inclusivity. It is important to involve everyone from your team in your coaching program. Your sales reps will be more inclined to become a part of the coaching process when they see that others are willing to work on improving themselves.
Building authority. Build authority among your team members by turning yourself into a thought leader. Read more about the science and art of sales, write more, and express your thoughts in multiple ways. Your sales reps put their trust in you to learn from you and remain motivated about your coaching sessions when they are sure that you possess more knowledge than them.
Consistency. Be consistent with your coaching sessions instead of providing just one, two, or a few sessions and leaving it there altogether. The more consistent you are with your coaching, the more likely it is to produce results.
What Is the Importance of Sales Coaching?
Why is sales coaching important? The importance of sales coaching lies in its potential to transform the performance of your sales reps. Sales coaching empowers sales reps to hone their skills and close more business deals through continuous feedback, practice, and repetition. An effective sales coach is able to bring out the best in their team by using great coaching techniques and it has a significant impact on results. Studies have found that companies with a strong sales coaching culture of up to 3-5 hours of sales coaching a month, experience a 10% higher win rate.
The purpose of sales coaching is to make your team more responsible by providing constant evaluation and accountability of their performance. Ultimately, your team becomes more adept at pinpointing what things do not work and what to do instead. Your team thrives when they have the support they need to become their best self in the form of sales coaching which makes sales coaching a way of investing in the success of your people and your company.
What Is the Importance of Sales Coaching for Entrepreneurs?
The importance of sales coaching for entrepreneurs lies in the fact that it gives business owners a chance to experiment with things to see what works and what does not. Sales coaching is important for entrepreneurs because it enables them to expand their toolkits and get to know about some of the effective ways to approach their potential customers. Sales coaching unites the team and helps them close bigger and better deals, thus the business owner does not have to worry about team building and accountability and focuses on doing other more important things.
What Is the History of Sales Coaching?
The sales coaching history begins back in the 19th century. There has been a need for sales coaching since the day when people began to sell goods instead of exchanging goods to get something else. However, the history of sales coaching begins with the first-ever formal sales coaching program which is tracked back to the 1870s when sales coaching or training programs were called sales talks. These programstaught salespeople the art of persuasion as at that time it was believed that sales was all about persuasion.
The sales talk programs included everything from communication to standing in front of the customers and handing them out a pen to sign the deal. The prominent names of the early 90s that promoted sales coaching and worked on it to improve the process include P.W. Searles, Tom Hopkins, Arthur Sheldon who founded Sheldon School in downtown Chicago and Elmer Leterman who is the author of, “Sales Begin When the Customer Says No.”
Then technology took over in the 1950s and 60s. Products became more complex and alternatives emerged. People took their time in buying the products to fully evaluate their features which increased the need for companies to have a unique way of selling things. The significance of an internal sales coaching program designed according to the unique features of their product for companies rose, and sales coaching finally took off.
Who Was the First Sales Coach in History?
Dale Carnegie, an effective sales coaching person of his time, was the first sales coach and trainer in history. Carnegietransformed the idea and process of selling by writing his ground-breaking bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He highlighted the importance of building a relationship with customers so that they feel valued and secure instead of using persuasion in order to make people buy the product.
What Can a Sales Coach Help with?
A sales coach helps sales reps to identify the gaps in their performance and know about the areas for improvement. Sales coaches help by supporting sales reps in cultivating the behavior and skills that lead to success. They work on the holistic development of their coachees and help develop much-needed abilities in the world of sales; such as communication, confidence, negotiation, and listening.
Sales coaching helps team members to unite and work collaboratively to achieve a common goal. An effective sales coach focuses on individual development as well as on the performance of the individual as part of a team. A good sales coach promotes healthy competition among team members and focuses on improving skills and techniques, instead of just focusing on numbers.
How Does a Sales Coach Make Money?
There are several ways in which sales coaches make money. Some of the ways sales coaches make money are given below.
Sales coaches make money by providing individual and group coaching services to the sales teams of different companies.
Another way to earn as a sales coach is to provide online coaching services.
Experienced sales coaches earn by training other sales coaches who are just starting out.
Some of the sales coaches produce effective sales-related content such as YouTube videos, eBooks, and paper books, and earn from them.
How to Become a Sales Coach?
There are two ways to become a sales coach. One way to become a sales coach is to get a certification from an authentic coach training association and start your practice as a sales coach. The other way to become a sales coach is to gain experience as a salesperson, get to know the sales tactics, and then train others in the field. The most important steps you need to take to become a sales coach are given below.
Begin with getting relevant education; at least a bachelor’s degree in any sales-related field, such as human resources, finance, management, etc.
Get experience by working in the sales field. The more experienced you are, the better coach you are able to become.
Work on developing your soft skills; such as communication, negotiation, and listening.
Get professional certification in sales coaching.
Learn to ask thought-provoking questions.
Practice effective monitoring of your coachees in order to constantly hold them accountable during the coaching process.
What Qualities Should You Look for in a Sales Coach?
You need to be aware of the qualities a good sales coach has in order to choose the perfect sales coach for your team. Some of the qualities you should look for in a sales coach are given below.
Having an individualized approach instead of following a one-size-fits-all model.
Ability to keep people challenged yet motivated.
Providing effective feedback on the performance of the employees.
Ability to keep sales reps focused on the goals.
Showing empathy to their trainees and building a great relationship with them.
Adequate knowledge and skills in the sales field.
Adaptability and ability to change the techniques and methods depending on the coachee.
Involving in the process and supporting sales reps at each step by practically demonstrating the knowledge. Good sales coaches have a hands-on approach.
Who Are the Best Sales Coaches?
The best sales coaches help boost your revenue because they train your sales team holistically and have the ability to transform your sales department. Six of the best sales coaches are given below.
Jill Konrath is one of the best sales strategists, a speaker, and the author of a few very effective bestselling and award-winning books on sales. She helps individuals as well as big companies how to succeed in a constantly changing sales world.
Lisa Earle Mcleod is a global expert on sales coaching and the author of five books on effective sales strategies.
Colleen Stanley is the first sales expert to integrate emotional intelligence into the sales coaching process and sales leadership training. She is the founder of a sales development firm as well namely SalesLeadership, Inc.
Brian Tracy is a sales Guru and author of 55 books on sales. Having conducted seminars and workshops in 61 countries, he has worked as a sales coach for more than 1,000 companies and has addressed more than 5,000,000 people worldwide.
Keith Rosen is the CEO and founder of one of the best Sales Leadership coaching organizations namely Profit Builders. He has been working as a sales coach for decades and since 1989 he has delivered his programs to millions of people residing in 75 countries on six continents. Keith has written several best-selling books as well.
Can Sales Coaches Help You Grow Your Business?
Yes, sales coaching can definitely help you grow your business. Sales coaching helps grow your business by focusing on the holistic development of your employees as a result of which you witness a massive growth in your business. Your sales reps become more confident, knowledgeable, self-reflective, and motivated when your sales coaching program is effective and ongoing, which helps them close more deals, get more clients for your business, and thus generate more revenue.
How to Find a Successful Sales Coach?
There are several important traits you need to look for in order to find a successful sales coach for yourself and to avoid getting scammed. To find a successful sales coach, you need to:
Look for hands-on experience in the world of sales
See if they have sales-related qualifications and training to become a sales coach
Ask for testimonials so that you are sure that the sales coach has worked for other people and that you are able to put your trust in them.
Ensure that the sales coach you pick is adaptable and is a great fit for your sales team.
Ask to speak to a former client of your sales coach so that you are completely satisfied with their sales coaching abilities.
What Is the Difference Between Sales Coaching and Business Coaching?
There are many differences when you compare and contrast sales coaching and business coaching. Some of these coach vs. training differences are given below.
A business coach is an expert who helps you to make a roadmap to achieve your business goals while your sales coach helps your sales team to close deals effectively.
Business coaches help you develop skills that enable you to make your business successful while sales coaching improves your sales performance.
A business coach helps your business succeed while a sales coach helps you to successfully sell your product or service to your potential clients.
Sales coaching focuses on improving the performance of individual sales reps while business coaching targets the development of the whole organization as well as focuses on improving the performance of the person being coached, which, in most cases, is someone in a leadership position.
Sales coaching helps your sales team to identify market trends, develop sales conversion skills and improve your lead generation, while business coaching prioritizes creating an action plan to improve processes and support the sustainable growth of your organization.
Alexis Fedor is an award winning performance artist and writer from New York City. She is the founder of Artists In Business, a company focused on helping artists create online businesses with their art through online courses and group coaching. Alexis is the creator of the renowned Profit Canvas Mentorship, which has helped hundreds of artists create profitable businesses with their art, and the AIB Jumpstart, a membership experience designed to help artists get their businesses prepped for profitability. Alexis lives in New York City among many friends, family, and two cats.