Sales Coaching

What is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching is an intentional, collaborative process that involves an experienced person, ideally the sales manager, supporting a sales rep in achieving...

Specific professional goals
Teaching and reinforcing relevant skills, tactics and techniques

Sales coaching is all about taking an active role in developing their people to be the best they can be. It is what a good sales manager does to help their sales people grow and achieve success.

Coaches mentor and enhance the sales rep’s performance by providing:

  • Encouragement and constructive feedback that help foster a winning mindset
  • Reinforcement of skills and behaviors that will help them perform at the optimum level for success

Sales coaching is actionable guidance that helps:

  • Hold people accountable
  • Foster open communication
  • Improve professionalism and growth
  • Provide a safe place to practice, practice, practice

If that problem requires learning new skills or better use of skills, then our Growth Path to Successful Sales is the answer. There are two kinds of training: technical/product and interpersonal selling skills.

Sales coaching has two purposes:

  1. to strategize on opportunities
  2. to help improve performance and growth of people on the sales team

Coaching can be formal (scheduled and structured) and informal (on the fly) but it should be continuous and consistent either face to face or virtually.

TYPES OF
Coaching

Opportunity Coaching

Strategizing the best options for winning a specific opportunity. In this instance, the coach asks questions and makes creative suggestions that help to formalize a strategy that will insure success, using tools and skills learned in advanced sales training. Depending on the experience level of the person being coached, it can include pre-call planning, role playing, account strategies and opportunity strategizing. Managers can share best practices they learned from other sales people or have used themselves. They can also role play the situation to build confidence. Interestingly, 95% of coaching discussions are about individual opportunities.

Professional Growth and Performance Improvement Coaching

Sessions of professional development, honing skills, and enhancing a sales mindset. In these sessions, coaches provide feedback, based on observation, that will help a salesperson strengthen their selling skills and improve their knowledge. Coaching is a highly individualized process, with those sales people who are struggling requiring a very different kind of coaching than someone who is performing at a high level.

Selling today is a more complex process and with buyers approaching a salesperson much later in the sales cycle, everyone can use a coach.

Being able to provide the coaching that helps a sales person either to improve the use of their skills or to win a strategic piece of business is one of the most important things a sales manager can do to help the individuals, team and organization to reach their goals.
The path to sales coaching growth starts here

Our Sales Coach Growth Path to Success

Strategic Enhancement Group (SEG) uses a Growth Path to Successful Coaching for sales managers to help them learn the skills of a good coach and processes that facilitate the interactions.

The Growth Path includes training as well as a process for communicating the importance of coaching, and a coach the coach component.

Sales Coaching Growth Path

How Do You Maximize Sales Coaching Effectiveness and Investment?

75% of overall effectiveness is achieved before and after the training event.

A learning event, by itself, will improve skills up to 25%, but without reinforcement it will begin to deteriorate over time. To improve the results and achieve the desired performance outcomes of a learning event, there are some best practices that will dramatically increase the likelihood that what is learned in the classroom makes a difference in job performance.

According to research conducted by Wilson Learning, if you do pre-event preparation and communication using the tools listed below, you will increase the likelihood of improved job performance after the learning event by another approximately 25%. They also found that the way to get the very best results, i.e. sales people and their managers using the skills successfully, is to reinforce the skills through coaching and skill refreshers after the learning event. This will add another 50% effectiveness to the training results.

+ 25%

Pre Event Preparation and Communication

Prior to an learning event, preparation should be done to set the expectations and help improve learner readiness. This takes little time but reaps great rewards.

  • Link to Business Strategy
  • Executive Sponsorship
  • Communication Plan
  • Expectations, Processes and Tools
  • Manager Preparation

25%

Learning Event

Having seminars that employ inside-out learning with skill practice in the workshop give the best chance that the skills will be used. Our programs challenge people to think, which helps participants to make better connections between the new skills being learned and their use in the work place.

+ 50%

Post Coaching and Reinforcement

With managers who are trained in coaching skills and actually coach their direct reports, the performance of direct reports improves by about another 50% and continues for longer periods of time. This plan gives the best chance for a good ROI.
  1. The manager is trained on general coaching skills
  2. The manager is trained on how to coach to the specific skills their employees are learning
  3. The manager coaches their direct reports

Why is Sales Coaching Important?

74% of leading companies say coaching is the most important role sales managers play, according toForbes Magazine. In a recent survey by Training Industry Inc., coaching was identified as the one activity to most likely impact job performance. Every sales person knows the quality of their sales manager will have a profound impact on their success. In another recent survey, 69% of salespeople who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average. Suffice it to say, sales coaching is extremely important.

Unfortunately many sales managers do not coach at all. One reason is because they don’t know how.

74%

of leading companies say coaching is the most important role sales managers play.

Forbes Magazine

Part of the sales manager’s role is in the day-to-day coaching that happens both formally and informally. Most sales coaches had been extremely successful when they were sales people. Once they become a manager, it cannot be assumed they know what to do in that role. Success in sales is reliant on the nurturing of specific skills and qualities that are integral to success. This includes coaching skills for the sales managers. Providing them the skills and tools to coach in a variety of situations will help them and their sales team achieve their target goals.

Whether you believe that sales skills exist within a person by nature or nurture, there is no doubt that they need to be developed by a salesperson to consistently perform at a high level in an ever changing sales environment.

Coaching

was identified as the one activity to most likely impact job performance.

Training Industry Inc

69%

of sales people who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average.

Steve W. Martin

Harvard Business Review

The most successful sales people want, even crave, coaching from their managers to keep them ahead of the competition and the best in the game.

THE PATH TO SALES COACHING GROWTH STARTS HERE

What are some symptoms of a poorly prepared sales coaches?

Sales people are missing their targets

In a recent survey, The Brooks Group found that only 31% of sales managers had strong confidence in their sales team’s ability to meet key business objectives. There are so many reasons why sales people don’t meet their business objectives: calling on the wrong companies, calling on the wrong people, missing information, not selling value, not understanding their full capability to meet specific needs, poor goal setting, and so on. With the right coaching all of these can be fixed or improved. Multiple studies indicate that sales people have a much better chance of achieving their goals when they have the proper support, with coaching being the #1 component. Another study showed that the percentage of time a manager spends coaching is directly related to quota achievement. Helping sales people master new skills that will improve their performance is a key factor in building sales capability, which in turn leads to more sales.

Too many lost sales

61% of lost sales are to “Do Nothing.” In those cases, the qualification of the opportunity (i.e. the burning platform) was insufficient. Sales, many times, are also lost because the salesperson wasn’t able to show the value of their proposition or differentiate themselves from the competition. Unfortunately, buyers say that sellers really only differentiate themselves about 3% of the time. When that happens it becomes about price with the lowest price winning. Another factor that impacts whether a sale is won or lost is miscalculating a competitor’s offerings, value proposition or prior relationship. Spending time coaching a sales person on opportunities can save more time in the long run, focusing on the real opportunities and coming up with winning strategies. When sales managers spend the time to coach their sales people, they see a higher win/loss ratio and higher revenue.

80% of the sales are coming from 20% of the sales team

If 80% of your sales are coming from 20% of your sales people, then it’s important to figure out why that is happening. The cost of those non-performers can be staggering. The time spent coaching the poorer performers will help a sales manager determine what they need in order to improve their sales and reach their goals. If it is the wrong person for the job, that can be determined quickly and can save the company money. If the problem is lack of know-how, lack of direction or too many barriers to their success, these too can be learned quickly and remedied in coaching sessions. They may need help to use new selling skills consistently and well. Or they may need help in strategizing how to win a piece of business. Or they may need their manager to run interference around the obstacles that stymie them. 

The 20% who are high performers also want to improve their performance. They want to be professional sales people and are averse to failure. They insist upon getting the real guidance that will help them achieve their goals. 

A personalized coaching approach empowers people to come up with meaningful solutions on their own.

The old ways aren’t working anymore

Highspot’s “2019 State of Sales Enablement” survey showed that nearly 70% of respondents said their company’s sales process was becoming more complex. In another report, 61% believe that selling has become harder than it was 5 years ago. Add the complexities caused by COVID and it has become a whole new ballgame. Selling just isn’t what it used to be and sellers need to adapt to succeed. The nuances of sales today are greatly impacted by how buyers are shopping. Because of the internet, buyers don’t need the aid of a salesperson to help them make their decisions, so the entrance to the buying process comes much later, if at all. The new buyer process requires new technologies of modern selling. The sales person’s opportunity to differentiate and demonstrate value needs to be done quickly, giving the buyer an exceptional experience. 25% of a buyer’s decision to go with a specific sales person is directly impacted by their experience with them. This makes coaching and strategizing a very important part of winning a sale. What you know and how you can use that knowledge to make an impact on the buyer is very important to even gaining access.

Hiring less experienced sales people

An article from the Wall Street Journal stated that many companies are focusing on hiring junior sales people with potential instead of trying to court the more experienced sellers. They are looking beyond experience and instead, the intention is to “coach them up.” With the right coaching in place this can be a successful strategy for building up a sales force. Instead of inheriting bad practices learned elsewhere, new sales people can be trained and coached in the ways of your company. This process can take a long time, but with the right training and coaching it can also reap rewards in creating a highly professional sales team.

Sales manager personally accounts for the majority of the sales

74% of sales managers carry a quota. With sales people being naturally competitive, this can put the manager in an awkward position - deciding whether to sell or help their team grow. With all the other activities that a sales manager has on their plate, the one most often to fall off is the coaching. This puts a burden on the sales manager that, in order to achieve their goals, they need to be out there making sales instead of building up their sales team’s professionalism. In the short term, this can be okay. But in the long run it minimizes the organization’s growth and can lead to good people going elsewhere to find the coaching and support they need to be successful.

Sales managers aren’t coaching

Sales managers have a lot on their plates. They spend up to 65% of their time working on administrative duties. More than half say that they have a hard time completing their work tasks in the time given. If, on top of all this, they also carry a number, it’s no surprise that coaching is put on the back burner. 68% of sales managers spend 60 minutes or less per week coaching their reps. Sales managers average having 16 sales people report to them. So if they spend 60 minutes per week coaching 16 reps, that equals about 3-3/4 minutes per rep. A culture like this is not conducive to supporting coaching activities. Coaching needs to be part of a management rhythm that designates the necessary time and resources to do it. And it needs to be supported 100% by the C-Suite to the sales reps. Reviewing the effectiveness and ROI of activities that may get in the way of coaching and being creative on how to get them done another way can help free up time for the sales managers to coach, something that has the greatest impact on sales performance.

Many times it is assumed that sales managers already know how to coach. Not true. Just like any other skill base, these skills need to be taught, reinforced and coached. In other words, the coach needs a coach too.

With coaching, one size does not fit all. There are different things for a coach to consider: when to coach, the experience level of the person they are coaching, the coaching environment - whether it’s face-to-face or virtual, the coaching opportunity - whether it be opportunity strategizing or professional development. The style of the coach and the rep needs to be in sync. Coaching is a collaborative activity so both parties need to buy-in to the value it brings to each of them and to the organization.

The bottom line is that coaching doesn’t cost another dollar, yet it provides the greatest opportunity for growing revenue in any organization.

We can help your sales mangers develop their coaching skills to really help their sales team succeed.

 The Path to Growth Starts Here

How Can SEG Help?

Since 1984, SEG has worked with some of the world’s top companies to grow their sales, using coaching as a key factor in developing their sales teams’ professionalism. We can help in these areas.

Coaching the coach

Coaching from a distance

Skills to coach successfully

Invest in your team and yourself by taking the time to continuously coach and model the skills that will lift your team to achieving their goals.

Coaching Counselor Sales skills

The best sales coaches of Counselor Salesperson skills say they talk CSP skills and language almost daily, a habit that improves results and CSP’s adoption.

Coaching tools

Everyone has four minutes. Maximize the impact by trying the curbside coaching challenge. Your small but frequent investment of time as a manager coach could increase your sales team’s performance by more than 43% which is compelling ROI.

Best Practices toolkits

When you invest in skills training, a covenant can ensure maximum ROI for the salesperson, manager, and the company.

Opportunity coaching

One of the most important roles as a manager is being a coach. Good coaches understand the importance of preparation and planning in their ability to coach their sales team.

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