The 5 stages of successful sales coaching
There’s no way around it: sales coaching is one of the most critical parts of any sales enablement program. According to research findings, a staggering 67% of organisations that had good sales coaching processes and programs in place experienced high revenue growth, where the adoption and effectiveness of sales coaching increased with time.
While sales organisations all over the world recognise the importance and impact of sales coaching, the unfortunate reality is that most sales managers still lack the skills and training needed to effectively coach salespeople.
So, what exactly is sales coaching, and what’s the best way to get started with it? You will learn this, and more, in this blog.
What exactly is sales coaching?
Sales coaching is often mistaken as being the same as sales management. Besides the fact that both can be executed by sales managers, there is a world of difference between them.
Where managing or management is all about delivering results and getting things done, sales coaching is the process of developing people and reaching higher levels of performance by helping them master skills and overcome barriers. Sales coaching not only entails teaching though. Observation, assessment, and effectively communicating feedback are also key ingredients of successful sales coaching.
The role of sales coaches
Coaching is the most-used method in sales organisations to develop salespeople. The role of a sales coach is to optimise performance of individuals by providing constructive, clear and truthful feedback which shouldn’t be too evaluative, but lean more to being developmental. Besides providing feedback, positive guidance and discipline to practice core skills are also key aspects of coaching.
Therefore, in order to be successful, sales coaches obviously need to have the ability to effectively coach others. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. To make sure coaching delivers the expected results, it’s essential for sales managers to acquire and master the skills necessary to help sales reps with their development. Some traits of great sales coaches include, but are not limited to:
- Empathy and high emotional intelligence
- Excellent communication skills
- Observation, listening, and relevant technical skills
Not all sales managers or reps are suited to being great sales coaches though. While many of the traits of a great sales coach can be trained and learned, inherent skills are also necessary, such as high emotional intelligence, as they are impossible or very hard to master in a short timeframe.
How to get started with sales coaching
Most sales managers and sales leaders understand the importance of sales coaching as a key part of a sales enablement program. Yet, as time is a scarce resource, they find it difficult committing sufficient time and attention to coaching, especially when it doesn’t directly create revenue.
This does not mean that coaching should be moved to the background though, as developing sales reps will help organisations boost team performances through reps who are more effective at selling, dealmaking and building better relationships.
For coaching to be a success at your organisation, you need to foster a company culture of learning and growth. If you have a sales coaching program in place where employees are simply told to coach, but without any guidance or training, then it is unlikely to be successful. The key to success is that everyone involved from management on down to the reps has to be invested in coaching, development and growth.
Organisations can approach coaching very formally, but informal coaching can also work. What you need to keep in mind is that whatever approach you choose, you need to be agile and iterate your processes as time goes by. Below, we’ll walk through the different stages and responsibilities of coaching and how to bring structure into the coaching processes. Of course, keep in mind that processes may well differ depending on, for example, the nature of the company’s market and corporate structure.
Stage 1: Observe and collect data
Before you can start, your coaches need to have a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals reps and teams as a whole. That means you need to collect performance data and use it to determine what coaching activities and interactions are needed. Without data, you will be unable to determine what every rep actually needs help with to grow and become better at their job.
This is where a solution such as salesnudge provides value. When salesnudge is connected to your CRM, a coaching dashboard is automatically populated with individual and team performance data so you can immediately see who needs help with what. In addition, automated nudges will also notify coaches whenever there are coaching opportunities to boost the performance of reps.
Stage 2: Standardise best practices
When observing the performance of your teams and reps, you’ll likely notice the patterns of top performers. Having this data in the palm of your hands allows you to discover and standardise best practices that contribute to great performance and more revenue in the long run.
Salesnudge’s performance insights and nudge tracking allow you to easily uncover the patterns of top performers and what nudges they’ve received, so you can implement them into the coaching process to maximise performance quickly.
Stage 3: Develop and personalise the approach
By consistently collecting data, you will be able to personalise your coaching as you know what each individual rep or team needs. Using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ coaching approach won’t work to maximise the potential of your sales reps and fix problems. Personalisation is key to successful sales coaching, so make sure you only coach reps on where they really need to improve.
Salesnudge’s automated nudges are based on each individual’s performance and are personalised to help reps. Coaches also know at all times what is needed to help an individual get better. By leveraging the coaching dashboards that automatically suggest key improvement areas for each individual, coaches can personalise their coaching approach even further.
Stage 4: Meaningful interaction
Once you have a coaching plan in place, it’s time to deploy your coaching program. By keeping activities personalised, reps know that you understand what they’re struggling with and are more willing to be coached. Also have regular check-ins with reps. Talking about what they want to achieve in terms of professional and personal development will help you to further personalise coaching.
Stage 5: Continuous follow-up
A lack of continuous follow-up will void all of your previous coaching efforts. You have to track the results of your coaching efforts and continuously follow up to guarantee retention and understanding of the coached activities. Salesnudge automatically suggests timely coaching sessions with individual reps and collects valuable data so continuously following up and developing reps becomes a breeze.
Coaching your way to success
Remember that just having a sales coaching program and processes set up is not enough. Coaching also needs to be delivered thoughtfully and by properly trained people. More often than not sales managers are tasked with being salespeople’s coaches, but often they lack the skills to fulfill their role effectively. Effective sales coaching needs to be individualised, supportive and encouraging, so coaches can create an environment of trust.
Coaching is an investment that, if done right, can achieve significant top-line results. Utilising a tool that can simplify and accelerate those results may make the difference between success and failure.