Can sales coaching and sales training be used interchangeably?

Abhishikha Chatterjee
November 8, 2021
 mins read

Last modified on

November 8, 2021
Table of Content:

You might believe the terms sales training and sales coaching can be used interchangeably, but we're here to burst your bubble. 

YOU were wrong all this while!

Image: A shocked woman or GIF of actor Jim Carrey looking shocked

Nonetheless, don't be too alarmed since most of the salespeople we spoke to agree with the traditional perception that sales training and coaching are the same. And that's not all.

Training provided during the ramp-up period often disregards coaching.

Now that we have demystified the old myth, let’s understand how sales training and sales coaching are different from each other? And their importance in different scenarios?

The Reality: Sales Training Vs. Sales Coaching

Although the trend is shifting towards sales coaching, sales training will not lose its charm so soon. 

One reason could be sales training is a successful approach for enterprise teams because training is slightly more scalable and repeatable. 

But, what if we told you sales training is a culmination of recurring coaching topics

So, let’s get the facts straight with this detailed comparison table-

Sales training Vs. Sales coaching- What’s more proactive, and why is it important?

“A coach helps you to figure it out on your own.” - says Jacco Van Der Kooij, Founder & CEO at Winning by design.

He also mentions that if you’re planning to build a competent and smart sales team, then it’s time to shift from training to coaching.

Coaching was optional earlier and hence overlooked by most organizations. Now that the sales function is turning into a strategic game, more companies are investing in coaching team members to create a smart sales team in place of a hard-working sales group.

Now let’s listen to another seasoned sales professional and his experience in sales coaching and training-

Sebastian Van Heyningen, President - Revenue Operations Consultant, started his career as an SDR in an early-stage start-up where his training and coaching experience was unconventional. 

He says- 

“My cumulative sales training is less than 3-weeks long after 8-years in sales, but my cumulative sales coaching is uncountable. 

I’ve had tons of advisors, colleagues, and people in my network who helped me personally, and my formal training is a little lacking, yet I was able to build a GREAT career in sales.

Hence, I personally value coaching, the personal 1-1 focused approach- a bit more than sales training.” 

Above perceptive is suitable for smaller and mid-sized companies. What about enterprises?

Although sales coaching is the way forward, we can’t deny the value of training in large enterprise organizations

To put it simply, training and coaching are the key to empowering salespeople to do their best. Training increases sales knowledge, and coaching tunes execution. Neither function is worth a damn without the other, and the balance between the two is all about the sales reps’ needs. In my opinion, sales coaching and training being done are far less effective than they could be. Some of it, which I recently experienced, is downright terrible, I also believe the focus of most trainers is on the wrong things. In fact, the whole training should be about the sales reps needs! NOT about the trainer’s "beliefs." - Flyn Penoyer

Hence both sales coaching and training have their importance in the sales world, and each of them can be proactive if performed in a structured manner. 

How to make sales coaching as viable as training for large organizations?

Let’s visit the challenges firms face in larger organizations-

  • Greater number of heads in sales teams
  • Large ticket-size customers
  • More number of clients
  • Increasing pipeline
  • Increasing and challenging sales targets

With all numbers amplified and more prominent in size, it’s not easy for sales managers to coach their teams. 

To put the problem in bed and leverage sales coaching, large organizations should invest in sales technology. And one such affordable and scalable solution is Conversation Intelligence that leverages AI to support sales coaching. Here’s how-

  • Conversation intelligence automates recording, transcription, and analysis. The CI tool provides the first phase of feedback, and a sales coach or manager performs the next feedback step. 
  • Coaches can also use the meeting intelligence & people intelligence to deliver more constructive coaching and frame relevant questions to the reps. 
  • Moreover, listening to specific call moments on the conversation intelligence tool can provide content for a sales playbook that accelerates the coaching process to a large extent. 
  • Additionally, managers can plug into deal intelligence to get a more comprehensive view into the customer details and call details to develop better next step strategies along with the rep. 

What would you choose?

The debate between sales coaching and sales training can go on and on. 

The never-ending discussion needs attention, but the right harmony between training and formalized coaching needs more consideration.

Your company may follow both sales teaching methods, but eventually, you’ll have to prioritize one over the other, and what would that be? - Sales training or Sales coaching?

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