Sales Coaching Defined: Tips & Benefits to Succeed in Sales Enablement
To keep up with the constantly evolving sales world, competitiveness and efficiency are key. To adapt to these frequent changes and improve their sales performance, salespeople must constantly train. Managers can implement sales enablement actions to help sales teams keep their edge. Sales coaching is the ideal tool for managers who wish to help their teams develop their skills and boost their sales prospecting.
In fact, according to , companies that have a dynamic sales coaching program have success rates at least 28% higher than companies without a similar program. So how do you implement effective coaching?
What is sales coaching?
What is sales coaching? Sales coaching is the training of sales people to develop their professional skills. This is a long-term process and provides a framework including work methods and advice on how to more easily and quickly reach objectives.
How do I become a good sales coach?
There are several steps to follow to succeed in your sales coaching:
- Identify the needs of the sales person.
- Define the objectives of the coaching.
- Choose the methodology.
- Monitor the performance of the sales team.
- Debrief with the sales team.
- Exchange and share best practices in order to make coaching part of the team culture.
How do you coach a sales team successfully?
Let's take a detailed look at how to coach your sales team.
Identify and understand sales team needs
The best way to start your sales coaching program off the ground is by identifying the needs of your sales team. You'll need to understand what they want and perhaps even help them articulate where they need to improve.
To kickstart this step of the process, observe the team's processes, workflow, and tools to identify the obstacles sales people face at all stages of the sales cycle.
This needs identification phase also consists in identifying the strengths of their current processes.
The objectives of coaching
Developing your sales team's sales skills isn't the only objective of sales coaching. Sales coaching also allows you to:
- Identify obstacles and streamline work processes
- Engage, motivate, and retain salespeople
- Improve prospect targeting and lead qualification processes
- Gather information on and optimise the customer journey
What do sales coaches do?
Coaching ensures each sales team member brings value to all stages of the sale. One way to ease the adoption of new processes is to involve the sales team in developing the training program. This gives them the opportunity to bring their expertise and contribute to the creation of new processes or techniques like a sales pitch or lead qualification.
What are the different types of salespeople?
The behaviours and approaches of sales people evolve dramatically depending on a number of factors. For example, a sales person in their first year will operate very differently than someone with five years of experience. Whoever is developing the sales coaching techniques and processes must take these variations into account to successfully coach the team.
There's enough similarities between sales people that they can be separated into categories.
- The Hunter: This person loves a challenge and will follow each lead closely until the deal is done. They like autonomy and usually prefer a flexible management style. To adapt to this type of salesperson, be direct and factual. Base your advice on facts and figures, and present the sales person with a few options so they can make their own decision, thus maintaining their autonomy. Finally, don't dwell on their negative points. In this case, it's better to frame feedback on stockings points as ways they can improve.
- The Analyst: This type of sales person is very methodical and data-oriented, and generally disinclined to take risks. Precision is a priority, so they prefer to have time to process new information before making any decisions. Once again, a fact-based approach is best here, and they may benefit from live coaching on their phone calls. Finally, don't forget to acknowledge their precision and how well they know their files.
- The Social Butterfly: This sales person will often consciously or unconsciously seek diplomatic solutions, and they know how to put their prospects, clients, and colleagues at ease. As a manager, you'll have to keep an eye on this type of sales person's time to sale, as they love socialising. Once again, listening into their calls (through double-listening for example) can help, as well as putting pressure on them to get that signature. When managing this profile, speaking inclusively (using “we” or “us” instead of “you”) can be helpful.
- The Unifier: This type of sales person is extremely collaborative, to the point that they may forget their personal goals and put the group first. This can be a source of frustration for the manager–especially because the unifier may step on the manager's toes. For a healthy relationship, boundaries need to be set. To optimise the relationship, boundaries need to be set. But, the manager will do well to remember this type of salesperson is a natural leader, and will be happiest if the manager supports them in their career development and helps them gain the skills necessary to become a manager.
How to be a good sales coach?
There's an important and significant difference between teaching, which allows for the passive acquisition of knowledge, and coaching. Coaching's goal is to help people reach their full potential. When successfully done, coaching allows people to identify their own strengths and what impactful improvements they could make. For managers, coaching isn't always easy. So how do you go about it? What are the qualities and skills you need to become a good sales coach?
- Be a good listener during individual sessions.
- Always ask open questions. They'll open up discussion and potentially lead to interesting insights.
- Help the sales person to identify areas of improvement.
- Provide clear solutions based on the individual salespeople's profile to help them perform.
- Support salespeople's initiatives and motivate them to improve soft skills.
- Be transparent and honest.
- Be proactive.
How to measure the effectiveness of sales coaching
To assess the sales team's progress and the effects of the sales coaching, the manager should look at the following indicators:
- Retention and renewal rate (individual)
- Volume and frequency of additional sales (individual)
- Profitability (individual)
- Number of contracts (individual)
- Percentage of sales team members meeting or exceeding objectives (number of sales)
- The percentage of lost customers
- Satisfaction of sales people with their work, the hierarchy, and the company
Communicate regularly with the sales team
Team workshops and individual interviews are important opportunities for the manager to show empathy and goodwill. And on their side, the salespeople can use these meetings for self-assessment. However, when it comes to giving and receiving constructive criticism, it's important to be prepared adequately. If the manager or coach doesn't have thoughtful and impactful comments ready, and the sales person isn't capable of accepting constructive criticism, the meeting may do more bad than good.
One effective way of preparing for an individual feedback session is to record the salesperson's telephone calls beforehand. The manager can use these records as a basis for personalised feedback to each salesperson.
Make coaching part of the team culture
Sales coaching opens up opportunities for the sales coach and sales team to gather valuable individual insights that can be disseminated to the entire sales team. This information-sharing not only makes it easier to adopt best practices, it helps to strengthen team cohesion.
What are the top sales coaching techniques?
There are many coaching methods to improve sales performance. Below you will find a range of the best sales coaching techniques:
The sales coach usually identifies areas of improvement and strengths before the coached sales person, especially because the sales coach has an outside view and potentially access to more data. However, if the sales coach just summarises the sales person's strengths and weaknesses, they'll miss an opportunity to engage the sales person. The sales coach must lead the sales person to identify their strong and weak points on their own. This can be done through questions such as:
- What could you do differently?
- What do you want to focus on today?
- What have you learned from this method?
Self-diagnosis logically leads to personal development. After having identified areas of improvement, the coached sales person is then aware of their potential and can plan actions to be implemented. Here again, it is not up to the sales coach to list these actions. As a coach, you should simply guide your sales person with questions such as:
- What do you think you need to do to get to this goal?
- How can I help you achieve this goal?
- What obstacles might you encounter? How could you overcome them?
Setting up an action plan
The sales manager must then create a personalised action plan with the sales person to achieve the objectives set in the previous phase. This action plan should include a calendar with milestones and one to three actions the sales person can start immediately to get the ball rolling.
After defining the action plan with your salesperson that will enable them to achieve their objectives, it is time to take care of their motivation. You can keep them motivated by giving them positive feedback and otherwise keeping them engaged. Here are some questions that can help you spark a discussion about that motivation:
- Do you need clarification about this plan?
- How do you feel about all these actions?
During the next one-on-one coaching sessions, you will use the sales person's action plan to assess their progress. During these meetings, you can review their progress, encourage them, and give feedback if necessary. When a sales person's actions succeed and bring significant impact, share them with the whole team.
Which tools help with sales coaching?
Here are the different tools that are useful for sales coaching:
There are sales coaching platforms entirely dedicated to coaching your sales people. These platforms generally come with modules for:
- Facilitating role plays for customer interactions
- Create and implement action plans
- Monitor performance
They have the advantage of supplying useful and flexible features. Plus, they're often integrated with your business tools.
Coaching tools integrated to Ringover
The Ringover omnichannel communication solution for companies goes far beyond prospecting call campaigns. In fact, Ringover has functionalities designed for sales coaching and performance monitoring:
Call Supervision is an improved double-listening functionality. With this feature, you can listen to a call in progress and automatically switch to the next one to ensure the quality of the exchanges and collect data that will serve as a basis for individual coaching sessions.
Call whispering allows you to speak to your salesperson during a phone call without the customer or prospect knowing. You can intervene discreetly to give advice or share information that could help reassure a prospect or close a sale more easily.
Call recording is a key tool in the sales coach's toolbox. As a coach, you can record the calls of your employees in addition to the double-listening. This recording will serve as a support for your individual interviews and team workshops, giving you valuable soft data points for constructive criticism sessions.
The analytics dashboard
To measure the performance of your employees, Ringover provides you with a range of statistics that include essential performance indicators for a telephone prospecting platform (volume of outgoing calls, pick-up rate, SMS statistics, etc.). You can analyse the performance of your sales representatives at the team and individual levels.
Sales coaching is a great way to identify your team's needs, areas for improvement, and strengths. The sales coaching process allows both salespeople and managers to understand their potential and understand how to maximise it.
However, in order for sales coaching to bear fruit, the sales coach must personalise their coaching for each sales person. There are a number of sales coaching tools to make that task more manageable, for sales coaching and Ringover includes some that will help you optimise your performance.
To test the Ringover solution, sign up for a free account. Or to find out more about how Ringover can optimise your sales coaching, check out a demo.
Sales Coaching FAQ
Why is sales coaching important?
Sales coaching is important because it is an effective way of optimising sales team performance and increasing the conversion rate. Sales coaching programs put in place consistent individualised sessions whose sole purpose is to provide personalised feedback and advice to sales representatives.
Many sales representatives may turn to their more experienced colleagues for guidance on specific questions. This type of ad-hoc mentoring doesn't provide the kind of long-term support needed to see the significant performance gains attainable with a sales coaching program.
Individualised coaching allows for a greater openness between the salesperson and the sales coach because the trusting relationship allows for mutual honesty. As a result, the sales representative's weaknesses can be openly discussed and a plan created to optimise their performance.
Sales coaching programs have multiple positive effects across a sales department. Sales representatives are more performant and confident, and have a more thorough knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. Sales managers see an increase in the conversion rate, enjoy higher-quality relationships with their team members, and ultimately a higher retention in their department.
What do sales coaches do?
A sales coach works with individual sales representatives to identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop a long-term plan to help them maximise their potential. A sales coach will also choose tools like software to help the sales team work more efficiently and reach performance goals.
A good sales coach who achieves results iterates on their personalised approaches. The sales coach empowers the sales team with knowledge of their strengths, and collaborates with sales representatives to create step-by-step plans to improve on their weak points.
How much does a sales coach cost?
The cost of a sales coach can vary. Public programs can cost from £500 to $5,000, but often these programs lack the personalised attention necessary for a sales representative to optimise their performance.
For one-on-one sales coaching, the hourly rate runs anywhere between £150-250.
How can I be a good sales coach?
Sales coaches must strike the precarious balance between enforcing behavioral change and creating a trusting enough relationship that sales people will open up about their shortfalls. The key to being a good sales coach is encouraging the sales representatives to self-diagnose. That means that the sales coach doesn't simply tell the sales representative where they need to improve. Instead, they guide the salesperson through professional introspection by asking open-ending questions.
How do you coach a sales call?
First of all, to best coach a sales call you'll need sales tools like call supervision, call whispering, call recording.
Call supervision lets you listen to a call that's currently in progress, and automatically switch to other calls currently in progress. This functionality allows you to efficiently gather data on your sales representatives' soft skills during prospect interactions.
Call whispering allows you to discreetly intervene during a live call. This feature lets you speak directly to your salesperson, without the prospect hearing what you are saying. In this manner, you can give your sales agent live advice so they improve their performance in real time.
Once you've got your tools lined up and ready to go, it's important to follow best practices.
- Don't mention or hand out any disciplinary action during a sales call. Creating a trusting relationship with the salesperson is key to successful sales coaching. A salesperson is under pressure during a phone call, and increasing that stress through disciplinary action could compromise the relationship between yourself and the sales agent.
- Repetition works. Don't be afraid to go over optimised conversational habits many times. In order to successfully and consistently respond to prospects under stress and on the fly, sales representatives need those good conversational habits to be a true habit.
- Keep it professional, not personal. Making sure your feedback is constructive, specific, and focused on professional performance is key. You won't alienate the salesperson by saying something they may find offensive or inappropriate, and the salesperson's performance will benefit from the actionable advice.
- Focus on just two skills per call. Drilling down into a limited amount of skills ensures the salesperson isn't overwhelmed. Plus, if you focus on just two skills at a time, you'll be able to proceed through the salesperson's improvement plan in a methodical manner.
What is the difference between sales coaching and sales training?
The main difference between sales training and sales coaching is a matter of continuity. Sales training is an isolated event or series of events with a scheduled ending. In contrast, sales coaching is an ongoing process without a scheduled end date.