3 Sales Coaching Best Practices to Hit the Ground Running

a stick figure coach is encouraging his team with a bull horn to climb up the arrow

Want to improve solution selling results? Make sales coaching an integral part of your your solution selling training improvement process.

Your sales team may be performing pretty well, but if they are not being coached frequently and effectively you may be missing the chance for them to perform at their peak. Training your sales managers to performance-coach the team effectively can make a significant improvement in the team’s bottom line revenue. How significant? Our recent study showed a 4-to-1 difference between the performance of sales reps who received coaching from their sales manager and those who did not. Pretty impressive!

So if you’re convinced it could make the difference you’re looking for, read on for best practices as you set up a sales coaching program.

  1. Plan a structured approach.
    Even though we advocate the effectiveness of sales coaching on-the-spot, you need a consistent schedule to make sure that each salesperson is regularly coached. Set aside time at least weekly to agree upon and review specific goals and objectives for performance improvement. This way the coaching program becomes embedded in the sales culture. You will know you are on the right track when ride-alongs and feedback increase without people complaining about being micromanaged. Salespeople want the support and encouragement to grow relevant solution selling skills to meet their targets. They do not want an increased workload that will not help them to succeed.
  2. Train your sales coaches so they know how to do it right.
    Sales coaching requires more than just cheering from the sidelines. Sales coaches need to have excellent communication skills, an intimate knowledge of what it takes to succeed in their particular company and marketplace, and empathy for the challenge of learning and practicing new solution selling skills. Give sales coaches plenty of experience in role playing different scenarios…working with a substandard performer as well as with average and high performers. They need to understand what drives the individuals they coach so they know what buttons to push for extra effort and motivation. This requires flexibility in the way they work with individuals. When it comes to sales motivation and performance, one size does not fit all.
  3. Provide your sales team with sales tools that enhance independent learning.
    Performance discussions are the mainstay of good sales coaching. But why not add other sales learning tools? Some sales reps respond well to team learning game elements; some are better at working with visual cues; others respond to healthy competition. Good sales coaches are adept at sensing which learning method works most effectively for each individual and try to transfer to the learner the responsibility for developing proficiency in targeted areas.

The value of sales coaching is almost universally acknowledged. What is often missed is ensuring that the sales coaching is effective in terms of behavior and performance change in the key areas that matter most. Sales coaching can transform your sales team from just OK to consistently high performing if you set up a formal system, select and train sales coaches for their role, and give them the sales and coaching tools that help their sales team to become not only more proficient but also more independent.

Whitepaper Download: 5 More Sales Coaching Best Practices

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