Sales Coaching Matters. Here’s Why.

BY Kathy Crosett
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You know your sales reps can do better. You know that sales coaching matters. After all, you’ve read the all the sales coaching articles: Quality sales coaching results in a 19% performance improvement. The operative word in that statement is quality.

Have you been asking yourself how you can deliver quality coaching to every one of your reps, especially if this effort averages four hours a month of your time for each rep? The answer is that you probably can’t, unless you use an automated solution. Even then, you may not have time to read all of the sales coaching articles on your list. Here’s how a sales coaching platform can help you get the results you need.

The Coaching Conundrum

Because sales managers are so busy, only 66% of coaching comes from them. Reps also pick up tips from sales enablement pros and external coaches. We all know that in some cases, no sales coaching happens. Our research shows that nearly 20% of sales reps don’t meet with their managers for any sales coaching.

In this vacuum, reps will pick up tips from the salespeople they most admire in your organization. They’ll feel the pressure to make their numbers and they’ll do what it takes to turn in at least a minimum performance. But the tips offered by the senior salespeople might not work for every rep, especially if their motivations and work tendencies aren’t similar to the person they select as an informal mentor. And if that mentor has grown accustomed to taking a few shortcuts in the sales process, guess what they’re teaching your new sales rep to do?

Defining and Measuring Sales Skills

Carlin A. Nguyen and fellow academics, with research published in the Journal of Persona Selling & Sales Management, have proven that it’s not enough for managers to go with their gut when it comes to coaching. Managers can’t simply decide that all reps must be coached on closing just because they personally excel in that skill and know how to teach it. And they can't just read a few sales coaching articles and decide they are experts.

Good sales coaching is all about formally deciding on the specific skills involved in the sales process. A great coaching platform contains content that addresses each skill needed by a sales professional.

Once a rep’s sales skills have been tested, either through an official assessment or through interacting with prospects, managers can make the most of their limited time. They can focus their effort on where sales coaching matters, the areas where each rep needs improvement.

Time-​Saving Benefits of An Automated Coaching Solution

After your reps have received basic sales training, they understand, in theory, rudimentary sales steps like discovery, listening, presenting, and negotiating. What your reps don’t have is sufficient knowledge about how they’ll react when the sales process doesn’t go as they expected. And they don’t know how to recover from the mistakes they’ve made. That’s where coaching comes in.

Busy sales managers don’t need to take hours to figure out what’s going wrong with a rep’s approach. With great insights from a sales skills assessment, they know immediately what a rep needs to work on. For example, on the surface it may look like your rep is failing to dig deep enough in the discovery process when they’re on the phone with a prospect. Once you know the reason behind this weakness, you know how to effectively coach them.

For example, the rep’s general work habits may include a tendency to rush the sales process and overlook details. To improve, your rep will need to consciously change their behavior. These kinds of changes won’t take place without coaching. Consistently reminding your rep to slow down and think through the questions they’re asking during discovery will yield the good results. Sharing videos and articles, stored in your sales coaching solution, that speak directly to how to improve discovery skills will yield better results. During coaching sessions, you may also need to role play.

Sales Coaching Matters

Over the course of several months, your reps, if they are open to coaching, will change their behavior. They’ll start to see results in the number of deals they close. And you’ll be able to measure that 19% performance improvement in your organization, too.

If you’re among the 25% of business leaders who believe their sales coaching is working the way that it should at their organization, that’s great. But 75% business leaders struggle with their sales coaching effort. They probably know sales coach matters. They may be reading all the sales coaching articles they can find. What they need is a solution that helps them efficiently personalize their coaching and measure the outcomes.