Sales coaching is a renowned in-house trend of many successful modern companies out there. What is it in essence, which tasks affair solves, and how is it implemented in the first place? Let’s talk about all of that.
What is Sales Coaching?
With a number of different efficiency-boosting approaches involved with coaching a sales team, you get a two-sided active in-house process boosts the professional performance of each expert to, eventually, also boost company reputation and common income. Coaching also allows for optimizing workflow tasks, providing new business scaling opportunities at the same time.
The Difference Between Coaching & Training
Coaching is, essentially, the efforts directed at improving, enhancing and acquiring new knowledge or skills, and, ultimately, developing.
In turn, training processes differ here in that they imply solely transferring knowledge and experience from a master to a beginner.
Objectives of Sales Coaching
The main goal of sales coaching can be considered the general boost in the level of employees’ qualification. ‘Define a truly qualified sales expert this affair helps coach’ – you may inquire. Well, it is, basically, an expert that can feel buyers’ motivation points, realize their specific pains, and properly present a respective product.
A dedicated coach is the one to help hone all these aspects, contributing to the establishment of a reasonable, efficiency-driven environment for further company growth. The main goals of the matter, in particular, include the following.
Assessment of strengths & areas for improvement
A professional coach working with your staff is expert at defining particular aspects of your working team that need to be enhanced. Thus, you get insight into the major points of the professional and non-professional eagerness of your employees, which are further focused on by the specialist to be improved upon.
Acquiring ongoing feedback
A dedicated sales coach will help you keep in tune with the main behavioral and professional tendencies of your workers. You’ll be in the know at all times, becoming flexible at helping your employees out in the time of need and getting involved in efficiently resolving possible conflicts.
Development of knowledge & skills
Professional coaches ultimately boost your working team’s rates of performance and qualification. They become better at what they usually do and more engaged due to the educational spotlight directed at them by a company.
There are plenty of techniques pro sales coaches employ to analyze and find points of effect on the employees’ behavior. Thus, you can affect how they perform and take the work in the first place with certain triggers activated at certain moments.
Inspiration of self-motivation
Seeing how much the company is ready to do to make their employees better and more comfortable at what they do, people start to get mixed up in all this career-boosting galore themselves. It doesn’t mean that they are fast to grab books and learn, yet most people appreciate such activities a lot and ‘real fighters’ will surely go out of their way to achieve success in being coached.
Again, people appreciate when they are paid attention and dedicated resources to. Expect to receive professional eagerness in return and, if both you and a coach do everything right, enhanced personal relations with workers on top of boosted overall motivation.
Hiring an expert coach, don’t expect that your employees get formal education with boring homework and all that. Modern coaching experts are pretty advanced at what they do, employing progressive behavior-analyzing techniques, experimenting with qualification-boosting strategies, and more.
As we’ve already mentioned, all the sales coach’s efforts in complex, after some time and well-adjusted educational interaction, bring some quite profitable fruits to the table. Expect to boost the in-house performance, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and, ultimately, sales.
How Sales Results Change With Coaching
It’s crucial to understand that for maximum efficiency of coaching, an individual approach to every other sales department employee must be adopted in order to define the general strengths and weaknesses of each. The results usually show in literally a couple of coaching sessions: working sales professionals can employ the newly-acquired theoretical skills in practice at once. Check the sales dynamics and general company reputation changes to witness the initial results.
Sales Coaching Examples
Some particular examples of sales coaching activities include:
- run-through & analysis of a ‘perfect’ cold call;
- discussions of real examples of dialogues about the quality of service between a seller & a customer;
- reviews of dialogues with difficult clients;
- study of sales rules, etc.
Benefits You Get
The main point among numerous benefits of sales coaching is, surely, a boost in the sales experts’ qualification. Moreover, single, universally formed rules adhered to in a company help form the corporate culture of this company the best. This, in turn, positively affects and also boosts:
- brand recognizability & awareness among clients;
- status among both competitors and clients;
- overall sales dynamics;
- regular sales;
- profitability & income rates.
Sales Coaching Challenges & Pitfalls
There are several typical issues involved with coaching which can hinder the profitable results you expect from this affair:
- time limitations. Companies, usually, cannot afford to dedicate too much time to coaching as it means ‘distracting’ employees from fulfilling their main responsibilities. That’s why coaching sessions should be individualized and flexible – there should be both group sessions and private sessions (higher-tier sellers that may work with VIP clients or whatnot should definitely be coached in an individual manner);
- theory over practice. The practical part should never be neglected if you want your coaching sessions to be efficient. It’s crucial to dedicate time to reviewing particular cases when coaching sales reps act as problematic clients, cold clients or those planning to make a significant purchase;
- lack of discipline. Your students should realize above anybody else how valuable and precious the boost of qualification is. Otherwise, sales readings will stay still at approximately the same rates. An optimal curriculum, home tasks, as well as monitoring of the common learning success of students can help you with that potential issue (all that can be provided in the convenient digital format via respective systems);
- weak motivation. Last but not least, one of the most challenging potential issues of coaching — a sufficient level of long-term students’ motivation. It’s important to communicate with sales experts individually in order to understand what each is striving for and expecting from their career.
The Right Time to Coach
The best time to hire a dedicated coach is not about a certain time period or date. What you need to do to come up with the most proper moment is to grasp the time when your sales department demonstrates an explicit need in honing some skills. This usually happens during company scaling or structure reorganization or when some big sales plan is failed. I.e., this is the time when sales specialists may feel most confused and uncertain about what they do. During such moments, employees tend to receive any form of directions most eagerly.
About Sales Coaches & Their Roles
A sales coach in a company is more than just a person holding yet another authentic position. They are, basically, a mentor for the whole sales department that establishes productive interaction between all team members (according to practice, without the help of marketing experts and thorough knowledge of market tendencies, coaching for sales success is less than reasonable).
On top of that, during the recent years, the position of a sales coach is occasionally occupied by the workers of respective departments, which makes them responsible not only for training the least qualified colleagues but also for managing a team with which they acquired much of the field knowledge.
Sales Coaching Best Practices
Now, it’s time to take a look at some of the best practices in sales management and coaching as they are.
Keep in mind that corporate traditions and business niche standards may change from business to business. Be prepared to customize your usual way of doing things to fit your employer.
Create a plan
As much as you can be experienced and seasoned in the field, an initially-formed curriculum is a necessity if you want to organize a logical, subsequent studying flow.
Try to implement any theoretical topics discussed during coaching sessions in practice. This will help you facilitate the learning curve for your students when it comes to new study topics.
Process data with tools
Try and employ something from a variety of data processing tools. The most typical solution is the CRM system. CRM Nimble, for instance, is a great choice for small- and medium-scale businesses.
It’s not enough to simply conduct a lecture and leave. All the results of your coaching sessions should be reviewed and assessed. For that purpose, there are home tasks and sales level analyses (obviously, the sales rates should grow if sessions are successful).
It may be quite a challenge to provide sufficient motivation. You can either use your charisma (sharing your personal professional experience should be the best motivation for interested students) or come up with some type of a reward for achievements (it can be a certificate or a good old grading system or something else).
Never neglect personal communication with students and always be there for them when they come across a professional challenge of some sort or difficulties in getting a hang certain professional aspects.
Update & repeat
Always employ only the relevant data and don’t forget repeating the knowledge from previous sessions. This will help your employees to see a big picture of the current client service tendencies and start selling more.
Always prepare for every session. It’s not that you may forget or miss some point in the material. It’s just that you’re working with at least a couple of different people who can have dozens of different questions on the topic and expect you to readily clarify them.
Constant communication and transparent connection are crucial to the ultimate success of your sessions. A separate chat room is good for such purposes.
Your students should always know how well they are doing. Moreover, competition may be a point of strong motivation for some students.
Inspect the overall productiveness of your students after every session and each homework. If there is no progress or productivity whatsoever, start thinking about what you can enhance in your coaching practice to turn things around.
Communicating individually with students is just as important as connecting with the whole audience. Individual attention helps to boost engagement as well as your own authority in the eyes of students.
Assign responsible themed tasks to your students. Implicitly, such responsibilities form a direct interest in the taught material and enhance students’ practical skills.
Don’t be afraid to announce your hesitations as to some or other info sources based on your personal experience. Controversial points are what students remember the best.
You should be able to consult your students during their work in real-time. In particular, you can, again, have a dedicated chat for that where all sorts of client experiences can be discussed.
You can manage the knowledge of your students with the help of tests as well as home tasks.
Require the impossible from your students if you want to get the best results. Surely, your pupils shouldn’t overtime in order to pass your tests so you should stay challenging but balance things out.
Treat all students in an equally unprejudiced manner and you’ll notice that your whole studying audience is at approximately the same level of topical knowledge. Otherwise, your ‘favorites’ may discourage other students to learn anything at all.
Demonstrate your expertise
Don’t forget to share your professional achievements in the field during coaching (how you managed to overcome fears, lead a client to make a large wholesale purchase, etc.). This will certainly add you some authority points.
Be ready to argue
Let your students argue with your point of view. Most probably, you will come to some interesting conclusions together.
Use your natural sense of humor
Try to make all coaching sessions as pleasant as possible for students. Funny remarks and jokes and whatnot will help you with that (there is plenty to mock when it comes to the interaction between sales managers and clients).
There is no need to be a Major Payne in your profession. Certainly, you should occupy a softer spot in their midst. Work on your public speaking.
Try to compose the most optimal, time-efficient schedule. Otherwise, you risk seeing sleepy, tired employees not interested in the least in what you have to say while many will skim them at all.
Love what you do
One cannot be a real sales coach without a strong passion for sales. So this is a professional requirement number one.
Sales Coaching Tools/Books/Resources
As for the themed literature, tools, and sources, we’d like to briefly recommend the following:
- books – Cracking the Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan & Michelle Vazzana, The Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi, & Agile Selling by Jill Konrath;
- tools – Coach Your Sales Team to Success: A Simple Model for Providing Feedback & Coaching, Collavia® Sales PlayBook, Let’s Talk Sales! Interview with Deb Calvert – Episode 101, & Upcoming Webinar;
- resources –Richardson.com, Salesreadinessgroup.com, etc.
Setting Up Your Coaching Strategy
There are several common sales coaching models out there. For example, you can prioritize the mentor model (where a coach motivates students with authority and heavily demonstrates his/her intellectual, professional abilities) or a more friendly model (where a coach prevalently acts as a client during sessions). In any case, you should settle with a single, most fitting model, on which all the further sales coaching techniques will be based.
Creating a Sales Coaching Program
If you don’t have a readymade curriculum for your sales team coaching, you will have to develop one (especially, considering that in the niche as individually-oriented as sales).
For that, first of all, assess the qualification level of the sales department’s employees you are about to work with. Then, you need to understand what results and how soon the company management wants to get from you. After that, prioritize tasks (which should completely depend on blind spots in your students’ knowledge). Lastly, for the creation of an utterly effective sales coaching program, you should also calculate the time required to master certain skills.
Choosing & Planning Right Coaching Activities
The major coaching techniques are kind of guidelines for productive employee performance. The most commonly employed sales coaching techniques include:
- The Four Stages. Formally, the whole process of education is based on the answers to four major questions:
- what are you striving to achieve?
- how can you achieve that?
- what support will you have if everything fails?
- what will you get as a result?
- Feedback. This technique consists of four aspects to be defined individually:
- behaviors: a negative fact and/or behavioral trait must be identified without excessive emotion or generalization;
- outcome: potential and existing consequences;
- feelings in relation to all that’s happening;
- future: at this point, one must form a plan of lengths an employee is willing to take to fix the situation in the future.
- Walt Disney technique. According to the legend, during the creation of a new Disney cartoon, people working on it were distributed throughout three building flats: the second floor was for ‘dreamers’ – idea generators; the first for realists that formalize and materialize concepts; and the ground floor was for critics that sought out downsides in the realists’ blueprints. In reality, for instance, in accordance with this practice, a single task can be reviewed from three of these perspectives as well.
- GROW. The GROW technique is an abbreviation meaning Goal, Reality, Options, and What to do/Will. On the stage of Goal, a sales coach helps employees define goals and find the tie-in points for these goals. It’s important to figure out the level of these objectives’ importance for a particular employee. It is followed by Reality where all the strengths and weaknesses, as well as available resources, must be defined. On the stage of Options, all the available solutions are reviewed and best among them are chosen. Lastly, there’s the What to do/WIll stage, at which the global question must be answered: What exactly can be done in order to reach the goal?
The ROI of Sales Coaching
Efficient sales coaching brings dramatic Return on Investment (ROI) once it’s successfully conducted. There are loads of statistical data you can check out, the main points of which say that the overall win rate grows by 28% while annual revenues become 7% greater.
Sales Coaching Tips
Last but not least, we would like to provide a couple of brief tips for your successful sales coaching:
- define the weak points of the sales team – this will help you almost immediately enhance sales readings;
- start with the basics – there is no need to try to teach your pupils complex approaches from the get-go, especially, if they haven’t had any specialized qualification boosting yet;
- think through several teaching scenarios at once – in the case of your students not appreciating your initial methods, you won’t have to waste time to formulate new teaching tendencies (all in all, several methodologies can be practiced simultaneously depending on the coaching stage);
- analyze as many info sources as possible – sometimes, completely differing opinions gathered from several info resources can spawn exciting discussions between students and a coach.
- practice, practice, & more practice – even the most perfected theoretical basis won’t help sales employees handle the anxiety and lack of experience in doing something for the first time ever.
Effective Sales Coaching: Conclusion
Sales training and coaching implies an extensive complex of prep efforts related to planning, an indication of existing issues, the establishment of new company goals, and development of custom sales coaching solutions.
Alternatively, you can start optimizing your business processes without delay with the help of Nimble for small and medium businesses. Try out the trial version to personally experience all the benefits this tool brings.