Sales coaching is a collecting of training techniques, content, and programs that helps sales teams onboard new hires, continuously improve sales reps' skills, and maintain high levels of performance. It is a vital part of enabling your sales team and arming them with the tools they need to succeed.
There are many parts that go in to a successful sales organization. However, at the heart of your company is your sales team. Without the right sales incentives and team structure, you honestly can't exist as a business. Ensuring your team has the proper sales coaching is crucial and should be something you consistently aim to improve.
Coaching and training play a big role in the effectiveness of your sales team. You can have a well-designed, strategic sales plan in place, but without adequate training, you can't reasonably expect your team to perform well.
10 Ways to Improve Sales Coaching
Coaching is the foundation of your sales performance, so it's important that it's a strong, well-developed practice. Here are 10 ways you can improve your sales coaching—and with your reps better prepared, increase performance.
1. Observe and Analyze Performance
Before you can improve your sales coaching and performance, you first need to understand what is truly going on under the hood. You need visibility into performance at the organizational, team, and individual rep levels. This helps you identify where there are gaps in performance and you can start to look closely at the differences between you top, middle, and low performers.
If you can identify skills or other differences amongst these groups, you can then provide adequate training to improve performance and move the middle performers up to top-performers.
2. Adjust Coaching for Rep Tenure
Like performance, you can use tenure as a guide for providing proper sales coaching. Xactly Insights data shows that rep performance peaks between 2-3 years in a role. Prior to this point, it's important to provide adequate sales coaching during ramp up time and in the first few years in a role so that they are adequately prepared.
3. Collaborate with Other Teams
Sales coaching is primarily improving sales skills and helping reps close deals more effectively. By collaborating with other teams, you can provide key insights that can help build those skills.
For example, bringing marketing in can help reps maintain adequate messaging and use campaign content to move conversations along. Additionally, the product team can also provide key product features and help develop messaging that can be included in sales enablement documentation.
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.
In order for your sales reps to stay focused and truly absorb the training provided in the sales coaching session, you need to keep them engaged. Using a variety of media, including video, slides, printed materials, and interactive exercises, you can keep reps' attention and ensure they get the most out of the session.
5. Make Sales Coaching Continuous
You should continuously be working to improve your sales team's skills and performance. Sales coaching should be conducted regularly and on a continuous basis. However, it's not just about developing your sales team's skills. You need to also help reps grow in their careers as well. Continuous sales coaching allows you to build upon your sales reps' skills instead of having to review everything from scratch every session.
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, will help reps retain information more effectively, and ultimately, make your team stronger.
7. Provide Individual and Team Sales Coaching
This is a big one, and it can have a huge effect on performance. 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 on your team. This should be a huge priority for any person managing a team and tasked with improving employee morale.
In order 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 person on your team helps enable this by giving you and each rep space to discuss individual career goals, performance reviews, and individual coaching needs.
8. Don't Forget About Career Development
According to HubSpot, one of the top reasons sales reps leave their job is a lack of career development and education opportunities. Education plays a crucial role in improving performance and retaining top sales team members, and it improving sales coaching should be a top priority for every sales leader.
Xactly Insights data also shows that at the five year mark in a role, there can sometimes be a performance dip among. It's at this point that you should consider career development or changes for the rep. Work with the rep and your HR team to map out their career plan and understand the best next step to keep the rep engaged and performing at a high level.
9. Practice Constructive Criticism
Reps need feedback in order to improve their performance. Regular performance reviews are an important part of sales coaching. While it's not always easy to have a "you need to improve your performance" conversation, these discussions provide the opportunity to improve individual reps' skills and your mangers to improve their sales coaching.
10. Gather Feedback & 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 prior to sessions. This can help you identify areas that reps may need additional coaching and keep them engaged throughout the bootcamp. Then, after each session, gather feedback and tips from attendees to improve the next coaching session.
Unleashing Your Sales Coaching Potential
Sales coaching plays a vital role in the success of your organization. It's important that everyone involved has the tools, resources, and most importantly data they need to develop coaching plans and maintain high performance. Improving your sales coaching from the bottom up is the first step.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your sales coaching and performance? Download the guide "Inspiring Sales Rep Performance."