How to be a Better Sales Coach

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Are you looking for ways to be a better sales coach? Coaching reps to reach the next level in their careers may be one of the most important tasks for sales managers to do well. But sales managers don’t always have time to coach the way they’d like because they’re tied up in meetings, developing new forecasts or hiring new reps.

Improving your sales coaching outcomes will require you to consciously adjust your priorities. If you’re ready to commit to becoming a better sales coach, you can start by investing in a developmental sales coaching solution. This kind of tool can help you coach more effectively and efficiently.

How to be a Better Sales Coach

Time Commitment

Did you know that sales managers typically meet with each rep on their team four times a month for coaching? Our Voice of the Sales Manager survey also reveals that during these sessions, managers always cover the following topics:

  • Sales skills 46%
  • Pipeline review 41%
  • People skills 43%
  • Product training 38%

How do you stack up against these numbers? Do you find it hard to get together with each rep on a weekly basis? Would you say that your meetings are more about check-​ins than one-​to-​one coaching sessions designed to improve a specific skill?

You can optimize your sales reps’ outcomes by using a better sales coaching solution that personalizes quick-​coaching questions. When coaching questions are based on a rep’s sales skill level, you don’t have to spend time thinking about how to direct the rep to improve.

Personalized Coaching

Reps don’t come into your organization like clones with identical skills. They also don’t learn at the same rate and in the same way. To deliver better coaching, you should understand what each rep needs.

Currently, only 45% of managers currently use a system that allows them to adapt their coaching to the specific needs of each rep. 

When you rely on the sales skills assessment results fed into an automated coaching system, you can access tips correlated to how a rep learns, works and interacts. These details allow you to be a better sales coach. Even better, you won’t waste time trying to figure out how to help each rep improve.

Communications

In your sales management role, you should approach sales coaching with the right mindset. Using personalized tips based on sales skills assessment results, you should ask questions that will get the best answers from your reps. For example, if you are reviewing why a good lead didn’t result in a sale, ask, “What did the prospect say exactly when you presented our contract for signature?” For some reps, this kind of question prompts for a specific answer and will open the conversation on what step to take next and how to avoid a poor outcome in the future.

You can also be a better sales coach if you know what not to say in a conversation with your rep. Some reps chafe at the idea of their manager giving them a direct order. When you know this aspect is part of a rep’s profile, you’ll want to change your approach. Talk about facts and objectives and allow the rep to draw their own conclusion about how to change their style in the next sales meeting with a prospect.

Working with Coachable Reps

Being a better sales coach also means thinking about the effectiveness of your team as a whole. Not every rep is open to coaching. If you’re currently interviewing candidates and you’re interested in a sales professional who’s got some, but not all, of the right stuff, don’t rush to make them an offer. Ask them to take a sales skills assessment test that’s designed to reveal their behavioral and work tendencies. If the results of that test suggest the sales rep is marginally coachable, you might want to move on to the next most qualified candidate.

You may also have reps on your existing team that won’t be good candidates for coaching. If you’ve made suggestions in the past and they’ve ignored them, you may not be able to help these reps. In these cases, says C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of SalesFuel, managers can improve the bottom line when they coach the middle performers in their group. Some of these individuals, with sufficient practice, encouragement and experience, have the potential to become rainmakers.

Measure Progress to be a Better Sales Coach

Tracking each individual’s progress can be a tall order if you’ve got several reps in your sales department. When you use an automated solution that generates coaching tips, you’ll find it easier to review individual records to see what’s been done. Both you and your reps should be able to access the results of each coaching session. Reps can verify their coaching assignments without asking you about the details. And, later, you can review the rep’s answers before your next coaching session.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.