Are You Coaching Sales Reps The Right Way?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Back in the day, a move to management meant you escaped the factory floor and day-​to-​day contact with line workers. In today’s organization, front level managers are tasked with many responsibilities, including the one that requires coaching sales reps. If you neglect that responsibility, you risk losing your team members to a competitor who is committed to their career and skill development.

Research consistently shows that the younger members of your team don’t always have a smooth transition from their college experience to the work world. In addition to understanding the nuances of working from a remote location during the pandemic, new employees may struggle to meet goals. To improve focus, managers must invest time coaching their employees.

Skills Assessments

Have your new employees take a comprehensive sales skills assessment and review the results with them. The assessment may indicate they need to improve their skills in several areas. But don’t overwhelm your new reps with too many priorities. Get their input on what they’d like to work on first. They might choose to improve their closing skills or negotiating tactics. 

At this point, some managers will point their employees in the direction of training courses on the topic. But that’s only the first step. Training courses will give your employees background information on a topic. Then, you need to coach them on specific actions they should take to modify their behavior.

For example, a quick coaching session on negotiating tactics may be all about you explaining that your rep shouldn’t give a 10% discount on your product when a prospect asks. Instead, they should review the value of the product features the prospect is most interested in. Managers should follow up on successful outcomes by reviewing the details with the rep and encouraging them to continue the process that worked.

Changing Behavior

Good coaching sessions also require managers to challenge their team members. A longtime sales rep who has established behavioral patterns shouldn’t be immune from coaching. If your company has shifted sales methodologies, your reps will need to adjust their mindset. Going from a relationship selling method to a challenger method may increase sales. It will also require you to coach reps to shift their emphasis to the prospect’s point of view. After they learn the prospect’s pain points, your reps then must show how the solution they’re offering delivers greater benefit compared to what they’re doing now.

All of this coaching adds up to professional development. Once your reps begin to close more deals, they’ll see how their new skills have increased their success. And don’t forget that some of your reps will need to work on people skills such as empathy and the ability to listen. Our research shows that 43% of sales managers also include feedback on people skills during coaching sessions with reps. Developing these skills also counts as professional development and will strengthen employee loyalty.

How Are You Coaching Sales Reps?

As a great manager, you have the potential to help your reps boost sales between 10% and 19%. These kinds of increases come from asking yourself how you are coaching sales reps. They are also the result of hard work on the part of the rep. With a new year on the horizon, why not take a few minutes to develop a coaching plan for your reps and then lay out the specific steps you’ll both take to ensure success?