Sales coaching is designed to motivate and strengthen the skills of sales reps, which in turn leads to a more effective and productive sales organization overall. However, 73% of managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching their sales teams — and only 50% of organizations invest in continual training and development of their sales managers. The lack of focus on sales coaching within companies, from the top down, strongly correlates to myriad issues within the sales teams. This includes failure to reach quotas, inconsistent guidance, and lack of transparency, among others.
Why sales coaching is important
In short, effective sales coaching helps maximize sales reps’ performance and capacity to achieve their goals. Coaching will help your sales teams create successful habits and a sense of resiliency. With consistent support and communication, your sales reps will stay even more motivated in their role.
The goal of incorporating coaching models is to create long-lasting, profitable skills and enhanced sales performance. Companies with effective sales coaching programs see 28% higher win rates. The impact of these initiatives goes beyond closing sales, as well — employee retention and job satisfaction rates can also increase with a productive sales coaching program. Studies have shown that 60% of sales reps are more likely to leave their job if they feel like their manager is an inadequate coach, so having a successful sales coaching structure is imperative in acquiring and retaining top talent.
A proficient sales coach will use their expertise and experience to teach their sales reps how to improve their skills and reach their targets through various assessments, clear goal setting, and consistent communication. Even starting small can have a profound impact on the organization. As a coach, being aware of your team’s pain points will help you address current issues and prepare for potential challenges as your team grows and evolves. Paired together, reactive and proactive coaching tactics will strengthen your team both now and in the future.
Given that effective sales coaching and increased revenue are strongly connected, introducing a coaching structure should be a priority for your organization. In this article, we’ll discuss how to begin building your program, examples of coaching models, sales coaching tips and resources, and best practices to become an effective sales coach for all of your sales reps, both in-office and remote.
Where to begin
1. Review current sales data
To determine where to start, look at where your sales team is currently — this will help determine the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and highlight areas for improvement.
Compile your sales team’s performance data via your company’s CRM system, then take a look at past goals and compare them to the actual sales numbers. How often were they reached? Were these goals realistically achievable? What actions were taken to reach these quotas? It may also be helpful to extract the activity history for your sales reps — for example, if their outreach call numbers were high, but their conversions were low, then you may be able to hone in on the root of the issue as a starting point and go from there.
Additionally, your sales team is a great source for direct feedback — they can share with you what works, what kind of support or resources they need, and how they feel the current structure of the organization is helping (or possibly hurting) their sales.
2. Select a coaching model
Generally speaking, sales coaching models are structured guidelines that can help lead a sales rep to a particular goal and create high-quality seller habits. How you choose to implement your preferred model is dependent on which structure best fits your specific personality and management style.There are many coaching models out there, but we will briefly cover the three most popular models — GROW, OSKAR, and CLEAR.
(Goal. Reality. Options and Obstacles. Way Forward)
GROW is the most popular model used in coaching, due to being highly customizable and adaptable for individuals. The main focus of GROW is to form a clearly defined goal, acknowledge the current realities of the situation, and then create a strategy or roadmap to reach that goal. (This can be where those popular SMART goals come in as well!)
(Outcome/Objective. Scale. Know-How, Affirm, and Action. Review)
OSKAR is more of a solutions-based, behavioral-focused approach. This type of coaching model encourages progress and incremental achievements, as well as positive affirmations. It also encourages the coached employee to reflect on their performance, improving self-awareness and intentionality.
(Contracting. Listening. Exploring. Action. Review)
As a coaching model, CLEAR isn’t as goal-oriented as GROW or as solutions-based as OSKAR. Instead, its main focus is on creating lasting change and instilling new habits. Active and focused listening, consideration, and empathy from the coach are paramount within this model.
Not every approach to sales coaching will be an exact fit for your organization, so feel free to create a hybrid or combination program that is unique to your team. Since every manager has their own style of coaching — and every sales rep has their own way of learning — it’s important to incorporate a program that’s adaptable for all types of employees.
Effective sales coaching
Besides choosing a model, or creating a hybrid of your own, there are additional aspects to being an effective sales coach. It’s important that, as your sales reps’ coach and guide, you are thoroughly invested in developing their careers.
Sales coaching tips
Being an effective sales coach takes commitment, patience, and understanding. Here are a few sales coaching tips to keep in mind when working with your team:
1. Set aside the time
A coaching program won’t be effective if you don’t carve out adequate time and devote energy to it. If you stay committed to your reps you won’t just see positive results in the data, but you’ll also motivate and inspire your sales team to continue to learn and grow.
2. Know (and trust) your sales reps
Each rep has its own individual strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important that you take the time to get to know each of your reps. Not everyone will respond well to the same type of coaching, so be willing to adjust when needed. In addition, trusting your reps is an important step in the coaching process — give them the resources they need, and then trust that they can move forward with confidence.
3. Stay consistent
A reliable coaching program should go hand-in-hand with the sales training and onboarding process, and it should be sustainable for the long term. On average, 70% of new sales training implementations fail to achieve their goals, so ensure that your coaching program is consistent, dependable, supported, and set up for long-term success.
Sales Coaching Tools and Resources
Having the right platform for coaching can make all the difference in its success. Consider investing in sales coaching software that can help finetune your reps’ sales skills. Coaching tech platforms can offer proficiency assessments, role-playing sales calls with an instant analysis breakdown, the ability to track progress over time, and other types of feedback tools. An added benefit of these types of software programs? They’re accessible for your remote sales reps, as well. (More on remote coaching below!)
As a sales coach, you’ll also want to create content to share with your reps during sessions. These can include simulated sales scenarios, as well as group surveys and polls that can help facilitate open conversations between your team. Other tools you might bring to the table during your sessions include coaching and training templates, process guides and best practices, and real-life experiences.
It’s possible that you won’t have the answers to every question or problem that may arise. So, don’t be afraid to seek out additional resources. This support might come through external experts in the coaching or sales world or maybe even a past mentor of yours. Seek out further education for yourself, as well — so, you can stay up-to-date with the current sales coaching techniques.
To be a truly effective sales coach, you’ll want to be prepared to lead sales reps with differing needs, learning methods, and expertise levels. In addition, you’ll want to ensure that while you’re helping your reps improve their sales skills, you’re continuing your own personal growth and development, too.
You might assume that coaching a remote sales rep would be more challenging. However, there are many ways to be an effective sales coach virtually. In fact, online coaching is trending upward — according to a recent PWC remote work-study, in the US alone 72% of executives are planning for new investments in virtual collaboration tools and 64% are investing in training for managers of remote employees. Investing in these tools is the best way to set up everyone for success.
The most important piece of successful remote coaching is communication. Setting up weekly check-ins is a great way to open the lines of communication and maintain consistency. For remote workers, disconnection, miscommunication, and unclear goals can be some of the top challenges. Ensuring that they have that set time on your calendar each week is an important reminder that they are a priority. It also gives them consistency with their ongoing education, which is highly beneficial to overall career growth.
If you’re a manager of remote reps, review your company’s current sales tools to see if you can improve them. You might consider adding video coaching tools or having your remote reps record their sales calls as a starting point. When you’re able to review their pitches, you’ll be better equipped to provide concrete feedback and assessments during 1:1 check-ins.
How to know if your sales coaching structure is working?
Once you have a sales coaching plan, it’s important to regularly check-in to make sure it’s actually working. Here are a few different ways to evaluate whether your coaching program is a success:
1. Consistent analysis of sales performance
Thoroughly analyze how your sales team is performing each month. Compare each rep’s individual sales numbers to the overall team average for even more insight. If outreach versus conversation metrics were an issue, check in on that activity and notice if there are any improvements.
2. Compare your own goals versus your sales reps performance
Is your team meeting the company’s overall sales goals? If not, then you should revisit the goals to ensure your sales rep feels confident in achieving their quotas.
3. Ask for direct feedback
Consistent one-on-one conversations with your sales reps can give you direct insight into whether they feel the coaching structure is helping them. This is also a great opportunity to adjust or adapt your coaching model if needed.
4. Pay attention to the company’s attrition rates
Exit interview information can be highly insightful and enlightening. Notice if departing sales reps are citing conditions like ‘lack of guidance’ or ‘inconsistent support’ as reasons for leaving.
Sales coaching involves time and commitment but should be an integrated part of your sales organization. It’s important to create a program that can ebb and flow with the sales team over time. One-off coaching sessions may be helpful in the very short term, but will most likely not lead to significant changes within the company. Organizations that provide an effective and dynamic coaching structure can reach 7% greater annual revenue growth. Investing in even a small sales coaching program can have a profound impact on the sales team and on your company’s bottom line.