If you want to build a high-performing sales team that surpasses quota, then coaching is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Sales coaching is essential to help reps close deals with confidence. It focuses on the human aspect of sales, by treating each team member as an individual rather than a cog in the machine–and the results can be astounding.
In this guide, we share everything you need to know about sales coaching, including the difference between coaching and management, what makes a great sales coach, how to choose the right coach for your team, and how you can improve your own sales coaching skills.
SALES COACHING BEST PRACTICES
Like any other skill, the ability to coach can be learned and improved over time. If you’re a sales leader or manager looking to improve your coaching skills, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
LISTEN MORE THAN YOU SPEAK
In one-on-one sessions, let the rep speak first. You can provide feedback where needed, but for the most part, the rep should do the majority of the talking. Practice active listening rather than waiting for an opportunity to speak. If the rep says they don’t have anything to share, encourage them with open-ended questions.
FOCUS ON THE MIDDLE GROUP
Sales managers often become preoccupied with their top performers and their worst performers, while reps in the middle are neglected. In fact, those in the middle can benefit the most from coaching. Reps who consistently underperform may not be the right fit for the role, while top performers are already doing well on their own. Moreover, those “average” reps make up the majority of your team–improving their performance could have a dramatic impact on revenue.
TREAT EVERY REP AS AN INDIVIDUAL
It’s common for sales leaders to wish they could clone their top performers. This is why successful reps are often paired up with their less successful counterparts, in the hopes that some of that success will rub off on their partner. But in reality, what works for one rep may not work for another. Every salesperson needs to find their unique way of doing things. As a coach, it’s your job to help reps identify their strengths and develop a strategy that works for them.
In order for coaching to be effective, the rep needs to feel comfortable. If a rep doesn’t trust their coach, they’re unlikely to be honest about performance issues or challenges they’re facing outside of work. The best way to build trust is to get to know the person you’re coaching, and even more importantly, let them get to know you. Share a few personal or professional stories. Let the rep know that you’ve been where they are, and they’re not the first salesperson to face these challenges.
Sales coaching should be guided by the rep as much as the coach. Let them determine their progress through regular self-reflection sessions, where they can evaluate their performance and identify areas for future growth. If needed, you can guide the rep with some open-ended prompts, but remember to let them take the reigns. Regular reflection will help them build greater self-awareness.