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The Keys to Effective Sales Coaching

Mar 19, 2024
4 min read

As markets become increasingly competitive, many Sales teams are struggling to meet their goals. In fact, according to Gartner, 77% of sellers struggle to efficiently complete the tasks assigned to them. Effective sales coaching can help sales staff work more efficiently, improving their results while making their jobs less stressful, and reducing the likelihood of burnout.

What is sales coaching?

Sales coaching is the practice of leaders working with their Sales teams to boost sales performance. A sales manager can coach their team through regular conversations where they identify areas of improvement, set mutually agreed long-term development goals, and drive accountability.

10 Ways to Improve Your Sales Coaching Techniques

Coaching a Sales team requires some knowledge of how to communicate effectively. Many sales managers do not have experience in coaching or feel they lack the time to engage in ongoing coaching efforts. The following sales coaching tips can help managers understand the difference between "managing" and "coaching" and learn how to lead good coaching conversations.

1. Observe and analyze performance

Like so many other things in sales management, coaching relies on data. A good coach understands how each team member is performing and can set individualized development plans.

Before starting a coaching session with a sales rep, review their performance to get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Next, meet with the rep and see if they agree with your assessments. Xactly’s Forecasting tool offers useful features for tracking the performance of individual sales reps, helping you plan your coaching sessions.

2. Adjust coaching for rep tenure

There are many factors that affect a person's sales performance, including the person's tenure with the company. According to Alexander Group, the average annual sales rep turnover is 13.9%. It takes time to get newer reps up to speed, so companies with high turnovers may need to consider what's affecting retention, and take the tenure of their reps into account when assessing performance. All too often, tenured reps are held to a higher standard yet overlooked when it comes to opportunities for training.

It wouldn't be reasonable to expect a new sales rep who is not yet familiar with all the company's products to perform as well as an experienced rep. However, experienced reps who are not given personal development opportunities could be working at a disadvantage too.

3. Collaborate with other teams

Sales teams don't operate in isolation. Work with other teams so your sales reps have a broader understanding of the organization. When your team is aware of what's going on at other stages of the pipeline and is deeply familiar with the products or services your organization offers, they'll be in a better position to make sales.

4. Use a variety of coaching content

The traditional sales coaching session is usually a lecture with slides presented in a standard classroom setting. While this approach can be effective in short-term settings, it's not as effective for a full or multiple-day training session.

For your sales reps to stay focused and truly absorb the sales training provided in the sales coaching session, you need to keep them engaged. By using a variety of media, including video, slides, printed materials, and interactive exercises, you can keep the reps' attention and ensure they get the most out of the session.

5. Make sales coaching continuous

Sales coaching is an ongoing process, not a simple training session that can be delivered once and then forgotten about. Check-in regularly with your team to maintain accountability and see if each member is progressing toward their development goals. This helps maintain motivation and makes coaching feel like a routine part of the job, rather than having the sales rep feel as though they're being singled out for training due to poor performance.

6. Remember the value of "refresher" sessions

Continuous sales coaching is key, but in between those sessions, it's important to refresh existing knowledge and skills. You know the saying—practice makes perfect—and this is true for sales. Refresher sessions keep existing skills sharp, help reps retain information more effectively, and ultimately, make your team stronger.

7. Provide individual and team sales coaching

Sales coaching for your entire team is crucial, but even more so—you need to provide adequate time to meet regularly with the individual members of your team. This should be a huge priority for any person managing a team and tasked with improving employee morale.

For your team to perform well as a whole, individual reps need to perform at a high level. A regular one-on-one meeting with each person on your team helps enable this by giving you and each rep space to discuss individual career goals, performance feedback, and individual coaching needs.

8. Don't forget about career development

The goal of coaching is to maximize the performance of your Sales team. In general, sales reps are more likely to feel motivated if they believe there's a future for them at their organization. Replacing employees is expensive, with hiring, training, and onboarding costs often amounting to around 33% of the departing employee's salary. Focusing on retention can save an organization a lot of money in the long term.

9. Practice constructive criticism

Constructive criticism helps your sales reps learn and grow. The keyword there, however, is "constructive." Take care to avoid being publicly critical or demeaning toward staff members. This makes people feel defensive and less receptive to feedback. It also creates a culture where people are scared to make mistakes. In the long term, this can reduce their performance or even increase staff turnover as sales reps seek a more positive environment.

10. Gather feedback and improve

Most importantly, you need to continuously improve your sales coaching process. Get the key players involved in planning—invite sales to suggest topics, questions, or ideas before sessions. This can help you identify areas where reps may need additional sales coaching and keep them engaged. Then, after each session, gather feedback and tips from attendees to improve the next coaching session.

Unleashing Your Sales Coaching Potential

Learning sales coaching techniques can help you greatly improve the performance of your Sales team. Sellers are 63% more likely to be high performers if they have effective training, a good sales manager, and regular sales coaching.

A good coach is a strong communicator who is willing to listen and engage in constructive and calm communication. This is a skill that may require training and practice to develop, just as your sales reps need time to reach their full potential as salespeople. Consider seeking out a mentor and honing your communication skills for the benefit of your Sales team.

If you'd like to offer sales coaching to your team members, Xactly's Forecasting Coaching Guide can help you learn how to drive winning behaviors and improve your team's performance.

  • Human Resources
  • Culture
  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
  • Sales Performance Management
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Xactly News Team

The Xactly News Team reports on the latest product, events and market trends taking place within Xactly and throughout the revenue intelligence industry.