Why Sales Coaching Matters, 3 Proven Ways to Get Started?

Abhishikha Chatterjee
November 16, 2021
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“How do you plan to increase your sales reps’ performance by at least 10%?”- asks Rob Jeppsen, CEO of Xvoyant, to all sales managers he meets. 

Rob’s question on an episode of the Sales Leadership Podcast on Sales Hacker prompted our thoughts about sales managers’ responsibilities. 

If sales managers aren’t making efforts to bring the best out of their teams, sales progress will remain stagnant or start dropping in a few months.

So, where can you start?

According to a recent survey, 84% of all sales training is lost after 90 days. This is majorly due to the lack of information retention among sales personnel.

After recruiting and onboarding a team of talented people, it’s imperative to keep them updated and upgrade their skillset. Once trained doesn’t mean they are ready to conquer the market for life. 

Hence, you must invest time in sales coaching to achieve the skillsets and keep up-to-date. 

But before we jump on the fundamentals of sales coaching, let’s understand the benefits companies enjoy from coaching their reps. 

All set to deep dive? 

Why does sales coaching matter?

Sales coaching is essential, but why press on coaching the reps?

Sales Development Representatives play a vital role in bringing business to the company. They are the first point of contact for the prospect, and they represent the company. Which means they represent the brand. 

Considering their rapport and relationship with customers, it’s essential to coach the reps. 

But coaching reps not only benefit the rep but generate revenue for the company. Indeed a win-win situation!

So, let’s understand the benefits of sales coaching for the business and the reps. 

How do sales coaching benefit reps?

  • Maximize Productivity- Frequent formalized sales coaching improves the sales productivity of reps. You can witness a significant difference in their performance. A better skill or competency-based training has led to an increase in productivity for 81% of organizations. 
  • Career Progression- No rep wishes to stay still in their career. Sales reps seek opportunities to learn and develop their skillset. Which means they’ll be happy to get trained and coached by seniors and veterans in the company.
  • Motivating Factor- When reps see coaching results, they automatically desire to learn more and perform better. The motivation to perform keeps them on their toes to grasp more from their senior managers. 
  • Stability- The after-effect of motivation is career stability. Sales reps feel stable in places that motivate them to stay. The sense of accomplishment and learning adds to the feeling and makes them want to continue without second-guessing.
  • More Incentives- Who doesn’t enjoy a little more money? Awards? Accolades? Or, a company-sponsored trip to Hawaii? We all do and so do the reps. Improvement in sales targets directly increases the chance of making more incentives that quarter. To achieve the incentive, reps can go to any length and work hard to earn it. Without a doubt, sales coaching plays a critical role in achieving that kind of money.

How do sales coaching benefit the business?

  • Better business- You can expect skyrocketing revenue for the company and vast improvement in business objectives. Sales coaching reps trickle down to the business objectives. Better coaching ensures the best business results. 
  • Build strong sales teams- If you wish to make a mark in the industry, you have to achieve results and build a strong sales team. And building a team with insane churn rates in the market is no easy task. But sales coaching is effective in every way. Your team will stand out from the crowd and want to create a similar culture within the team. The recruits definitely can gain from the skilled and experienced sales team.
  • Low churn- According to an article in HBR, “estimates of annual turnover among U.S. salespeople run as high as 27%—twice the rate in the overall labor force.” It’s a startling number, and we have the solution. Sales coaching doesn’t make the reps stay but motivates them to stick to a company that cares for their professional development. Secondly, coaching promises results and, indirectly leads to more incentive, which adds to the motivation to stay firm in the company. 
  • Knowledge Foundation- Many companies are finding it easier to build a knowledge repository with the help of sales coaching information. And guess which teams love hogging the information?- Marketing and Product development. They find the data super helpful and keep scavenging for such information. Sales knowledge repository sounds trivial but is an asset to the company. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget to record the coaching sessions!

The benefits must have boosted your confidence in the sales coaching experience and given enough reasoning to understand why it matters. But the more pressing issue must be where do I start?

To solve your problem and bring more clarity to the sales coaching experience, let’s get you started with three fundamentals of coaching.

How to get started with sales coaching?

In this post, we wouldn’t want to focus on too many areas but three points that have shown results sooner than expected. 

It may seem overwhelming to develop a sales coaching plan at first, but it's smooth sailing after that.

So, here we go...

1. Formal Coaching Program

The robust coaching program is the first step to sales success.

The more thorough and intense the coaching program is, the better it is.

Here are a few critical elements of the sales coaching program:

  • Identify a coach- Coaches aren’t managers in each case. They can be more senior in the sales team, such as a VP or a seasoned sales rep. Most of the time, sales managers take the onus to coach as they are well aware of their team’s requirements and performance gaps.
  • Document or Record- Keeping a record of the sales coaching program is one part of documenting. Recording the sessions and discussions is another. Both are equally crucial. But let’s first concentrate on the program documentation. Your program and structure of coaching sessions would need more eyes to improve the coaching process. 

    Sales enablement teams’ involvement can help in the review process. 
  • One-on-one coaching sessions-  You may find one-on-one sessions too overwhelming and tiring at first, but that’s not the case. These sessions are essential as it offers undivided attention to the sales employee.

    Moreover, reps are more receptive and active in one-on-one sessions as they don’t fear any humiliation in asking silly questions. 

    We’d recommend a little improvisation to one-on-one coaching sessions. Try to follow a rule of thumb; as a manager, ask more questions to help the rep realize their improvement areas. This means the manager should do 80% of the listening and only 20% talking. 

    Additionally, create individual plans for individual reps. Customized coaching will impact more- both reps and the business.
  • Call coaching- Your sales coaching sessions should address call coaching separately. Why?

    Salespeople spend just one-third of their day actually talking to prospects, which is relatively low!

    Reps must spend 2-3 hours on customer calls every day. The call conversation should convert into successful business accounts. Essentially, we want managers to understand how delicate calling can be and its impact on the business. 

    Within sales coaching exercises, spend a good chunk of time on call coaching.
  • Feedback process- If there should be anything better than the sales coaching plan, it should be the feedback process. Sales coaching is derived from the feedback received on areas that reps aren’t performing well. Once the feedback is in place, the next step is to coach the reps on improvement areas, in short, feedback followed by coaching.

    Now’s the time to discuss the elephant in the room. 

    You made an excellent sales coaching plan, implemented it, and the results started showing. Congratulations!

    Is that all? 

    Maybe not every day, every week, or every month, but revisit the program once a quarter or once every six months. Amend and update the program as per the feedback received from the reps.

    Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to coaching as every organization is unique and so is the market. 

2. Add creative techniques

Creative thinking? In sales? Sounds absurd?

But break the monotony and explore new options!

As per research conducted by the Aston Business School, in Europe, sales professionals with more creativity generated more sales than those without.

Sales sounds like a serious profession, but there’s always room for a tad bit of creative thinking. 

Both customers and vendors have grown out of the traditional ways of selling the pen. It’s high time the pen must be sold by someone traveling to space. 

Hey Elon Musk, are you listening? 

So, coming back to reality, how can you coach your team to stand out from the crowd? 

Here are a few techniques that you can encourage your sales teams to replicate.

  • Add a pinch of humor

    Most successful salespeople don't have the product knowledge they need; they have witty mannerisms and traits.

    Customers also dislike long, monotonous sales conversations. They are looking for an educational experience sprinkled with a bit of humor.

    Tweak the content to make the same sales messages humorous. 
  • Work on Problem-solving

    Remember, your client is lying awake at night. There’s a long-pending issue bothering them. But they are willing to spend money to fix the problem. 

    Consider yourself an investigator, not a salesperson. You are trying to find a solution to a problem statement, and you need to understand the issue and determine how your product fits into it. 

    Once you start thinking about the client's issue from different angles, the problem is completely solved, and you become a problem-solver salesperson.

  • Empathetic selling

    People rushed for help as soon as the pandemic broke out. Businesses also sought help. 

    Few companies made it through the downturn on the sales front. 

    These companies put themselves in the shoes of their customers to determine what their needs are. 

    You don't realize how important it is to empathize with your customers. It strengthens a client's relationship and helps to sell better. 

  • Celebrate your customer

    Your client recently got promoted to the position of sales director. But what did you do? Did you drop a congratulations note?

    Without going overboard, celebrating the client’s achievements induces a sense of satisfaction that the representative cares about them as much as you care about your business with them. 

3. Technology-based 

Without the application of sales coaching software, the coaching exercises won’t be scalable and get overwhelming with time. 

How about call recording software?

Call recording software uses artificial intelligence to record, transcribe, and analyze daily sales conversations including sales coaching sessions by integrating with the sales stack.

The tool automatically connects your meetings and records the conversations. 

Post recording the conversation, the tool transcribes the conversation with the help of its speech-to-text ability. Next, it looks for actionable insights like key meeting moments, the seller's response, opportunities captured or missed, customer questions, and any work that needs to be done.

  • Identify Improvement Areas

    A difficult task in sales is identifying training needs. Each call of the seller would be reviewed to determine areas for improvement. With Conversation Intelligence, this is possible. 

    CI identifies soft skills and missed opportunities that need attention so that managers provide training that creates value.

    In addition, conversation intelligence allows sales playbook creation of different types of calls so that you can train new employees and underperforming sellers. By observing the calls of top performers, they can discover what works.

  • Automated Reporting And Receiving Feedback

    Another area where sales managers can save time is automated sales performance feedback and reporting mechanisms. Conversation intelligence makes call performance feedback easy for evaluation. It automatically records and sends the call analysis to the sales manager’s inbox. Sales managers can easily view an hour-long call in minutes and provide their input.

When does a sales coaching program turn into a success?

Rob Jeppsen mentions one key aspect about sales coaching which the majority of managers overlook. He says- “ Consistency and Focus are key.”

Without frequent sales coaching sessions organized weekly/monthly/quarterly, it’s hard to notice any remarkable difference in the rep’s performance. 

And sales coaching can’t be based on top or low-performing reps. Every rep, poor or performer, should have coaching experience frequently. Aim for continuous development of all your representatives. 

So, sales managers, if you start defining a structured sales coaching framework for your sales team- be consistent, stay focused, and most importantly, make it your #1 priority. 

And don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of sales coaching platforms to support your endeavor, here’s one- Get Started Today!

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