Sales Coaching: How to 10x Your Team’s Performance (2022)
Your sales team is performing well. They’re generating new leads, and for the most part, they’re hitting their quotas.
But you’d still like to see growth. You know it’s possible because you’ve looked at the numbers, but your team is stuck in its ways. How do you empower your sales team to do more?
Consistent sales coaching makes a big difference in the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales representatives — managers who invest time and effort into coaching their employees can expect significantly better results. One report showed that 60% of high-growth companies use coaching as part of their employee training programs.
What Is Sales Coaching?
Sales coaching is the act of assisting sales reps with their processes and techniques to improve their performance and motivation. The purpose of coaching your reps is to equip them with the processes and techniques they need to increase their motivation and improve their performance.
Because of the performance-based pay structure, giving your teams extra motivation and nurturing them through dry spells can help motivate them while they’re honing their skills. The more formal your sales coaching program is, the better the impact on your sales rep’s performance.
What Is the Goal of Sales Coaching?
The goal of coaching is to create an environment where team members feel motivated to get better at the craft of selling. An effective sales coach can boost the performance of middle- and low-performing reps by surfacing their strengths and refining their skills.
Without the two-way communication regular coaching brings, it can be tricky for managers to uncover behaviors that lead to poor results.
Sales Training vs. Sales Coaching
Sales training and sales coaching may sound like the same thing, but they differ in a couple of key ways.
- Sales training gives reps a cursory understanding of how to sell a product or service. In most cases, this type of training is provided during onboarding, and they are not repeated unless the sales representative is significantly underperforming. It isn’t tailored to the individual, and it involves teaching basic job skills, like how to use the company’s CRM or meeting scheduling software.
- Sales coaching is continual, more personal, and goes beyond the basic tactics of skills training. In a coaching culture, team members self-assess and discover ways to solve problems. You’ll focus on creating conversations with your sales reps to help them in key areas that are essential to their success.
Sales coaching and training can be combined to achieve the best results.
4 Types of Sales Coaching Techniques
Like other forms of training, sales coaching can happen in various methods – depending on the preferences of the manager and learner, as well as a company’s industry. Here are a few of the most popular sales coaching techniques:
1. One-to-One Mentorships
Routine one-on-one meetings to discuss what’s working, what isn’t, and for leaders to provide ongoing advice is the most common form of sales coaching. This is a traditional, face-to-face style of coaching where a sales manager and their reps have open dialogues on areas of improvement and expectations.
2. Knowledge Sharing
Most modern companies know the value of a knowledge-sharing culture. Organizations rely on their highest-performing sales reps to document what is working for them, allowing other reps to learn from their team members who are finding success.
Those high performers may be asked to present an email that is working for them, create an SOP or process documentation on a sales script that has worked well for them, or to set up office hours to answer questions from their co-workers.
Below, you can see how organizations use Whatfix to share knowledge on CRM best practices and tutorials, directly in-app.
3. Data-Driven Coaching
Data is the most powerful tool for a sales coach. This allows for managers to present hard evidence on what’s working – and what isn’t. Sales coaches are able to prove – with data – the best performing sales scripts, email templates, demos, and other sales collateral. Using a data-backed sales coaching approach brings legitimacy to your sales training processes.
4. On-Demand Support
Sales leaders are not always available for one-on-one coaching. However, with tools such as Whatfix, leaders can document the best processes that work for their sales team – and embed those directly into your digital processes, email clients, and CRMs.
With Whatfix, sales reps are guided through contextual walkthroughs on how to perform different sales practices and utilize an in-app self-help wiki that allows users to search through their teams’ sales documentation and high-performing templates.
What Makes a Great Sales Coach?
Sales coaching is about building a sales team’s self-confidence. A great coach creates an environment where people can learn from their mistakes through feedback and honest appraisal. The best sales coaches are also facilitators — they bring out the best in their people by helping them see things from different perspectives and motivating them to succeed.
A quality sales coach must have a very impressive ability to communicate with reps on both a basic and deep level. They convey key messages about how to improve your sales process and close more deals in a way that reps can truly understand and use.
The best sales coaches are also great communicators with an exceptional ability to inspire confidence in their team members. They’ve likely spent some time as a rep themselves, so they know what techniques and skills their reps need to improve and how to inspire them to make those changes.
This type of coaching takes not only technical knowledge but emotional insight into what will be most motivating for each individual rep. It also requires a great deal of patience from the coach, who must be willing to work with new or struggling reps until they get it right.
12 Sales Coaching Strategies & Tips
If your company isn’t using sales coaching strategies, your sales team is leaving money on the table. To help your reps develop the skills they need to crush their sales quotas, use these 12 coaching techniques.
1. Take Advantage of Knowledge Sharing
You can speed up your team’s learning process by organizing workshops and skill-shares where your successful reps share what makes them so successful.
These sessions will allow your reps to share ideas about how they perform their jobs effectively. This will not only help them improve their own performance, but it will also make them better mentors for other team members.
2. Coach During 1:1 Meetings
You’re likely already meeting with your reps for 1:1s, so you can use at least some of that time to specifically focus on coaching. Consistent coaching sessions can make coaching more effective and improve rep satisfaction, so earmark at least one of your monthly 1:1s as a coaching session and strive to increase the frequency.
3. Roleplay New Techniques
Roleplaying offers reps a comfortable way to try new sales techniques without having to risk losing a prospect’s interest. Practicing how your reps would handle a particular situation will make them better prepared to manage the same situation when they are in front of a prospect.
To get started with roleplaying, create a scenario where you act as a prospect who has a common objection. For example, if your reps are struggling to respond to pricing objections, you can play the part of the prospect, study the rep’s response, then coach them on how to effectively explain your product’s value.
4. Set Goals and Communicate Expectations
Sales reps have to know what’s expected of them, whether it’s in terms of total revenue or how many accounts they’re expected to win each month. Setting and communicating expectations are part of building trust and respect, and it’s the foundation for making sure that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. Your expectations don’t need to be excessively formal, but they need to be clear, and you both need to agree to them.
5. Track Your Rep’s Progress
Every rep tracks their pipeline differently, so it’s critical to develop an effective, transparent method for tracking progress. Make sure you’re using your CRM to check how long each rep spends in each stage of your buying process and how many meetings they’re booking every week, month, and year.
These numbers can help you spot areas where a rep could use improvement. For example, if one of your reps has an unusually high number of deals stuck in the “proposal received” stage, you can coach them on how to follow up during the final stages so they can close more deals.
6. Create a Coaching Culture
In a coaching culture, teams learn through collaboration. Sharing successes and learning from each other’s mistakes allows sales teams to become more than the sum of their parts — it helps them grow and develop a cohesive team.
You can start building a coaching culture by making sure your reps have easy access to one another, have a few shared goals, are held accountable together, and are rewarded together. For example, if your reps share goals, like hitting a particular revenue target or closing a certain number of deals, it gets them thinking about how their performance measures up and how they can help others improve.
7. Start With Just One or Two Improvements
Trying to fix everything at once is one of the biggest mistakes sales managers can make. When coaching your reps, don’t overload them with information that will overwhelm them. Focus on one or two things to start, so reps have the best chance of success.
For example, if you are coaching your reps on how to add new prospects to their pipeline, focus on making sure they understand how to use LinkedIn effectively, including how to set up a LinkedIn profile and politely message prospects. Once they’ve shown mastery of LinkedIn, start working on how to develop reusable email templates inside your CRM.
8. Use Gamification
Tapping into competitive streaks in reps can deliver positive results as reps strive to reach the top of the leaderboard. It’s also psychologically proven to keep all humans interested in something — when we “level up” in a game, our brains get dopamine, which activates the reward pathway in our brain and tells us to repeat the action to get the reward again. This tactic is called gamification because it uses incentivized “games” to keep people motivated.
Adding gamification elements doesn’t have to be a big production — it can be as simple as creating a system where reps earn points when they display competence in the areas they’ve been tasked with improving. You can also create badges sales reps can earn and display on their Slack profile or at their desk when they close a certain number of sales over their monthly or quarterly target.
9. Review Your Sales Enablement Collateral With Your Reps
Make sure your reps understand how to speak to your sales enablement tools, like PowerPoint presentations, one-sheets, and other documentation such as playbooks and knowledge bases. For example, use one of your peer-to-peer sessions to walk through each piece of collateral to show your reps how others have used them successfully.
Below you can see an example of a sales team leveraging their knowledge base to share best practices and documentation across the team:
10. Let Your Data Guide You
Use your sales data to figure out where you should focus and keep a close eye on your reps’ metrics. Look for areas where they need improvement and keep in mind that sales teams with well-defined pipeline KPIs and expectations have more success reaching their sales quotas. For example, if you see an unusual number of closed/lost accounts in your CRM for a rep, review their interactions with prospects to see where they might be faltering.
11. Develop Personalized Learning Plans
Treating all of your reps the same way doesn’t work. Your reps have different strengths and weaknesses, and they need to be coached on those specifics. For example, if your sales rep is struggling with confidence, it won’t help if you coach them on motivation.
Work with each rep individually to determine if their issues are behavior-, motivation-, or ability-based, then develop a personalized action plan to keep you and your reps focused on their individual needs.
12. Coach All of Your Reps
Some sales managers focus only on their weakest sales reps, but coaching your middle-of-the-road and top performers can reap several benefits. All of your reps have room to improve their leadership skills and confidence levels and reach their full potential. Coaching all of your reps can also improve your bottom line — gains in performance across your whole team can positively impact your win rates and quota achievement.
5 Best Sales Coaching Software Tools in 2022
There are many different types of training tools that help sales managers coach their reps – but a few of the best-of-breed sales coaching tools include:
Overall, sales coaching platforms empower managers with the tools to analyze and monitor their reps’ sales calls and processes, allowing them to provide advice on best sales practices and tips on how to close more deals. These tools then allow sales teams to share the best practices that are working best with the larger team.
For your sales team to be most effective, they should be able to complete their tasks in the shortest amount of time possible.
You can also use Whatfix’s digital adoption tools to increase your sales reps’ productivity by up to three times by eliminating the time spent searching for help and support information.
Whatfix allows organizations to:
- Create in-app training, coaching, and development content such as guided walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, tooltips, and more
- Embed an on-demand self-help widget that integrates with your organization’s knowledge base, intranet, or internal wiki to allow for sales reps to search for process documentation in the moment of need
- Gather insights into what workflows are being used properly, and which are not
Learn more about how Whatfix improves enterprise sales teams’ performance and productivity now!
Request a demo to see how Whatfix empowers organizations to improve end-user adoption and provide on-demand customer support