9 Sales Coaching Techniques That Really Work
Sales and football have a lot in common. They both require extensive strategies, incredible teamwork, and last-minute miraculous individual contributions to hit the winning goal.
Because it’s a team effort and requires intricate planning, sales teams also require hardcore coaching.
Now, similar to how coaching can make the winning difference in a game, the kind of coaching you get matters in sales.
In this blog post, we share the different sales coaching techniques you can use to guide your A-team to success.
What is Sales Coaching?
Sales coaching is when a sales manager or a seasoned sales professional provides guidance and support to sales reps to help them improve their sales skills. Managers work closely with reps to understand their pains and difficulties and offer personalized advice to improve performance.
A sales coach manages and supervises the performance of a sales team by providing guidance, training, and support to individual reps or teams. They create various methods to improve sales performance, like setting goals, training and development, and motivation and confidence building.
Why Do Sales Reps Need Continuous Coaching?
Continuous sales coaching is crucial for the improvement and success of sales teams. It provides a structured framework to build hard skills like the ability to cold call prospects, or handle objections and soft skills like negotiating and being confident. In fact, businesses with a formal sales coaching structure achieve 91.2% of total quotas.
Through personalized guidance and feedback, sales coaches can identify and address areas of improvement and ensure that the team is adequately armed to navigate challenges, hit sales targets, and adapt to changing markets.
Also, it promotes a culture of continuous learning and development - allowing reps to share best practices, which sets the entire team up for success.
Sales Coaching Techniques You Must Know Of
Below are some of the more effective sales coaching techniques that form the core of sales coaching. However, these techniques must be adapted to the sales team and company culture for maximum results.
Here is the list of 9 sales coaching techniques:
1. Conduct A SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
A SWOT analysis helps sales leaders understand internal and external factors affecting sales reps’ performance - internal factors being a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses and external factors indicating opportunities and threats.
This strategic analysis helps you identify areas of improvement, capitalize on their strengths, leverage opportunities, and mitigate any challenges.
Let’s break it down:
- Strengths: Identify a salesperson’s skills, knowledge, experience, and personal attributes that help them succeed. Doing so can streamline your coaching by improving what your rep already does best. For example, if your rep is excellent at handling objections, you can replicate their technique across the entire team, as it seems to be working.
- Weaknesses: Reps are individuals, so they all have their own set of weaknesses when it comes to selling. Recognizing this helps you spend more of your coaching sessions on areas they can improve, gradually getting them to the baseline level so all your reps perform equally to hit sales targets repeatedly.
- Opportunities: Evaluate external opportunities your sales reps can take advantage of to succeed. For example, if one of your ICPs has just raised funds, that would open up the budget for a new solution. You could capitalize on this by reaching out to them.
- Threats: Sales is a highly competitive field. So, it’s not surprising that there will be quite some challenges your reps may face while on the field. Identify these factors and create an action plan to handle them. One example: competitor mentions may increase during a discovery call.
2. Prioritize The Well-Being of Your Reps
According to a survey conducted by Uncrushed in 2022, 63% of sales reps struggle with their mental health. The dramatic shift to remote working, coupled with the isolation that comes with it and the pressure to hit quotas in an economically unstable climate, are some of the contributing factors to the mental health crisis in sales reps.
It’s vital for you, as a manager, to take this into account while coaching your reps.
There are several ways you can prioritize the mental health of your reps. Start by setting clear boundaries. Emphasize strict working hours and encourage them only to take sales calls within these hours.
In his conversation with Sales Leader Forums, Bill Carson, Sales Training Coach, says,
“Take your ‘Sales manager, problem solver’ hat off. This is not a problem-solving conversation.
Yes, their performance is impacted. It’s a person-centric guiding conversation where you’re connecting with [your rep]. See where they’re traveling and tell them they're an important part of the team, and you want to check how they’re doing. Listen to what [your reps] are struggling with.”
Also, important to note, don’t judge. Whatever their problem may be, it’s crucial to lead with empathy, as this will open up the floor for more conversations in the future.
3. Encourage Self-Evaluation
Prefacing your one-on-ones with a self-evaluation is a great way to set the agenda for the same. A self-evaluation helps your sales reps assess their performance objectively and volunteer where they need most assistance.
You can roll out a survey or questionnaire that reps can answer and ask them to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10.
Some questions to include:
- What were your big wins in the last quarter/year?
- What were your biggest challenges in the previous quarter/year?
- What specific actions did you take to achieve or exceed your sales goals?
- How effectively did you maintain/build rapport with prospects?
- Did you engage in any personal development or training? If so, please elaborate.
- What are your personal goals for the next quarter/year, and how do they align with the team and company objectives?
4. Record and Review Sales Calls
Speaking of one-on-one meetings, being well-informed about your reps’ sales performance is better. Otherwise, you’ll ask them what happened instead of coaching them to improve.
Going over call recordings brings you up-to-speed on the deal status and rep performance. Use conversation intelligence tools to analyze sales calls. They’ll provide transcripts, summaries, talk time metrics like talk-to-listen ratio, keywords and key phrases used, and the ability to share successful calls with the rest of the team.
This makes coaching way easier. It helps you understand how reps are overcoming objections, delivering pitches, whether they’re clear on the value proposition of your solution, and so on.
He says, “Consider your top 5-10 deals. Every week, sit with your reps to review these deals. Look for these things: are they making the right call? Are they talking to the right people? Are they contacting more than one decision-maker if it’s a B2B sales cycle?”
So, when reviewing your reps’ calls, break the call into pieces and concentrate on each part to fully and effectively coach your reps to be better.
5. Empower Reps to Set Their Own Goals
Effective sales managers let individual reps set goals for themselves.
During performance reviews or one-on-ones, your reps will surely bring up the area they need to work on the best (based on the self-evaluation). Allow them to set that as their target for the next month/quarter. This works on astronomical levels as they are the ones taking charge - and salespeople are known to be self-driven and motivated. Of course, this only works if their goal aligns with the business goals.
Don’t just stop there. Monitor their progress daily. Jeku Jacob, Regional Sales Head at SurveySparrow, affirms, “On-the-job training works best because they feel the objection to working on their interest, and aim to learn and resolve the same.”
6. Focus on Incremental Growth
Expecting sales reps to work on everything everywhere all at once is ill-advised, and not to mention impossible. Reps will burn out.
For example, if your rep struggles with making quality conversations, have a couple of sessions going through their cold calls. Point out areas where they could have handled the situation differently - maybe used a different opener, or they tried too hard to convince the prospect when they weren’t going to be convinced. These sessions will serve as guidance for your rep to get better.
Wayne Moloney emphasizes, “Don’t go out there and implement wholesale changes. Look for areas within an individual [rep’s] skillset where you can make incremental changes; over time, those changes will add up and have a significant effect.”
7. Have Your Reps Create an Action Plan and Hold Them Accountable
Now that your reps know their strengths and weaknesses and have established their targets, it’s time to get them to create an action plan.
This plan should include a step-by-step guide to achieve said goals with a clearly defined timeline. Keep a digital copy handy so reps can pull it up whenever they require, and also, it’ll serve as the reference for your next one-on-one, where you’ll review the progress made. Feed it into your CRM or use a collaborative tool (even just a Google doc would do).
Next, you need to hold your rep accountable to their goals. To support them, regularly check in about how they’re doing and if they need assistance. Review their progress on your CRM, see where they stand, and gently nudge them toward their target.
8. Share Celebrations and Failures
Not all deals will be closed won. Reps may lose the deal for several reasons - losing to a competitor, budget reasons, or the deal just went cold.
By viewing failure as a chance to learn, you decrease the odds of repeating errors and promote a culture of continuous improvement. Create a sharing circle where reps share details of lost deals. Analyze calls to find out areas of missed opportunities.
On the flip side, it’s equally important to celebrate wins! Publicly acknowledge when your reps hit or exceed quota. It could be a message on your team group or an announcement during your next meeting - anything to show your reps they are valued and appreciated. Share the best practices across the entire team. This solidifies effective strategies, provides positive reinforcement, and serves as motivation for reps to achieve their targets repeatedly.
9. Create a Training Materials Gallery
Training materials don’t serve a singular purpose - to educate newly hired sales representatives. They also help seasoned reps refresh their memory. For successful sales coaching, you must reinforce what you’ve discussed during meetings and provide your team with the necessary resources.
Your gallery should include the following:
- Training videos - to understand how the product works
- Webinars - anything from product explainers to sales best practices
- Interactive demos - to share with prospects or use when live demos run into technical issues
- Sales playbooks - a document detailing sales strategies, sales methodologies, sales sequences, and additional materials
- Relevant books - to refine your rep’s knowledge about sales
You could gamify this. Conduct a weekly or monthly knowledge-sharing session where reps can gather around and share what they’ve learned. This will push your team to improve their sales skills and bring in better results - triggering quota attainment.
As a sales manager, one of your primary duties is to coach your reps to be better sellers. It’s critical for you to set up sales coaching processes in place to foster an environment of continuous growth. Doing so will create a safe space for your reps to approach you with their difficulties - or each individual sales rep will resort to handling the sales process in their own way, leading to disorganized execution.
Follow these sales coaching tips and techniques to define an effective sales coaching program and boost motivation, morale, and sales performance, ultimately resulting in a high-performing sales organization.
Q1. What Are the Different Types of Sales Coaches?
The different sales coaches are 1) observers, who sit back and watch what you do right and wrong; 2) well-wishers, who are helpful, friendly, and only want the best for you; 3) frenemies, who may seem like your friends but are only interested in you because your success benefits them; 4) weak spies, who keep tabs on your activities and relay all information to higher authorities, and 5) strong spies, who have the power and influence to affect business decisions.
Q2. What is an Example of Sales Coaching?
Role-playing is an example of sales coaching. Usually, in one-on-one sessions, the sales coach and the rep take on the roles of the prospect and the seller to replicate real-life situations to help sales professionals rehearse and enhance their abilities in a controlled setting.
Q3. What Are The Three Attributes of a Successful Salesperson?
The three important attributes of a successful salesperson are persistence, communication, and relationship-building skills. It’s crucial for a salesperson to be persistent in pursuing a deal. Effective communication helps close deals faster as it leaves no room for confusion. A relationship-builder can get in the good books of the prospect, as trust is one of the critical factors that drive sales success.
Q4. What Are The 4 Coaching Methods?
The four types of sales coaching methods are - one-on-one, peer, role-playing, and call reviews. One-on-one coaching is conducted between an individual rep and sales manager, while peer coaching involves pairing up sales team members to provide feedback and support to each other. Role-playing is more of an interactive session where sales reps simulate real-life sales scenarios, and call reviews can be done individually or with a sales manager to assess the performance of a sales call.
Q5. How Do You Coach a Struggling Sales Rep?
Understand the specific challenges they face and their strengths and weaknesses. Collaborate with the sales rep to create and develop a personalized improvement plan. Provide targeted training, resources, and opportunities for skill practice, incorporating role-playing exercises. Check-in with them regularly, provide constructive feedback, and celebrate their wins. Encourage self-reflection to empower the sales rep to take ownership of their development.
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