Sales Coaching: Definition, Types, Process, Importance, and History

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.

What Is Sales Coaching?

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.

Sales Coaching Definition

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.

Sales Coaching Definition

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.

Which Sales Coaching Techniques Are the Most Effective?

Effective sales coaching with the help of multiple sales coaching techniques increases sales performance by 8%, according to a research report by Gartner. Some of the most effective sales coaching techniques are given below.

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.

Sales Coaching Definition

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 Definition

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.

What Are the Facts of Sales Coaching?

Some of the facts about sales coaching are given below.

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.

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.

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 programs taught 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. Carnegie transformed 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 Coaching Definition

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.

  1. Begin with getting relevant education; at least a bachelor’s degree in any sales-related field, such as human resources, finance, management, etc.
  2. Get experience by working in the sales field. The more experienced you are, the better coach you are able to become.
  3. Work on developing your soft skills; such as communication, negotiation, and listening.
  4. Get professional certification in sales coaching.
  5. Learn to ask thought-provoking questions.
  6. 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.

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.

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:

  1. Look for hands-on experience in the world of sales
  2. See if they have sales-related qualifications and training to become a sales coach
  3. 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.
  4. Ensure that the sales coach you pick is adaptable and is a great fit for your sales team.
  5. 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.

Alexis Fedor

Founder & CEO

Alexis Fedor

Founder & CEO

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.