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Everything You Need to Know About Sales Coaching

By: Salesloft Editorial



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The Importance of Effective Sales Coaching

As a start to our sales coaching journey, let’s begin by understanding why effective sales coaching is so important. 

Selling is a constantly evolving practice. Every potential client is unique and no rep, manager, or sales leader can predict every outcome for every deal. What we lack in foresight we make up with experience.

By developing and implementing an effective sales coaching program, sales managers and leaders can pass on their expertise to reps in a more meaningful way. In turn, sales reps gain the insights and knowledge to sell confidently. 

For example, through effective sales coaching, sales reps can:

  • Self-assess areas of improvement
  • Take ownership of their deals 
  • Evaluate sales performance on a micro or macro level
  • Grow soft skills that can’t be mastered in sales training

What Is the Difference Between Sales Training and Sales Coaching? 

Let’s first establish the difference between sales training and sales coaching. While both drive sales readiness, they use separate processes. 

During sales training, sales managers provide concrete ideas and concepts. Sellers learn what to do and how to do it.

On the flip side, sales coaching encourages sales managers to lead the way with open-ended questions. They don’t just give sellers the answer. Instead, managers encourage sellers to assess their performance and craft their own solutions. 

Additionally, whereas sales training is generalized for the whole team, sales coaching is tailored to reps’ individual needs. Through one-on-one coaching sessions, managers can reaffirm individual initiatives and provide detailed feedback that training cannot consistently or as effectively provide.

What Can Sales Coaching Actually Look Like Then?

Effective sales coaching incorporates 1:1 coaching conversations with each rep. This often includes data-backed insights. 

Download a free ebook: Use Data-Driven Sales Coaching to Shape Your Team’s Success.

Data-driven coaching using analytics gathered in Salesloft can empower teams by removing subjectivity and providing tactful data that paves a clear roadmap to success. It also creates visibility around areas of opportunity and allows for constructive feedback cycles. 

Additionally, since every salesperson has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, it is important to tailor coaching around their individual capabilities and overall sales performance. 

Although sales coaching will look different from rep to rep and manager to manager, the end goal is always the same: 

Empower sales teams and capture sales success.

Sales iconography

How you choose to coach ultimately depends on your goals, but there are methodologies to follow. Here are a few of our top sales coaching techniques. 

1. Lean on your data

Leaning on data removes some of the subjectivity in coaching. Salespeople can’t argue with hard numbers and managers don’t have to rely on anecdotal evidence to support their suggestions. 

Activity data is a great place to start, but top sales leaders are focused on outcomes. They prioritize this by tracking the metrics that indicate progress toward those outcomes.

For example, by examining cadence data on Salesloft, you can assess your sales team’s efficiency and effectiveness at prospecting. Identifying weekly trends can improve your team’s ability to close deals. 

Since Salesloft provides a single view of sellers’ pipelines, you can review sales calls and emails right from your dashboard. Using this level of data, you can individualize your coaching sessions to ensure a more meaningful coaching experience for every rep.

2. Guide, don’t tell

Guide your reps

It would be easy to point out the problem and tell your rep how to solve it—but the goal of coaching is to empower salespeople, not hold their hands.

When you spot an issue, guide your rep through a non-directional learning approach by asking open-ended questions related to:

  • The Why: Every salesperson’s approach has some reason behind it. Ask them why. For example, “Why did you choose to contact a buyer through one channel over another (preferred) channel?” 
  • The Thought Process: Actions are formed on the basis of understanding. Ask reps what guided their decision-making process. For example, “What have you done to solve communication challenges? How are you approaching sales conversations differently?”

3. Create an action plan

Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight. To continue coaching effectively over time, create an action plan that includes a selling strategy and related goals, along with revenue targets. 

Start by looking at the big picture. Utilize sales team reporting to analyze how sellers are performing across channels. Pinpoint key trends and develop a plan based on these outcomes, not just your seller’s activities. 

If needed, give reps the means to execute immediate change and follow up on their progress through consistent, one-on-one coaching sessions.

4. Replicate the success of top performers

According to a survey from Hubspot, more than half of sales professionals rely on tips from team members to improve their skills. 

You can incorporate this camaraderie into your coaching plan by assessing what high performers are doing differently. 

Incorporate their winning behaviors into your team’s sales strategy and apply it to coaching sessions. If feasible, ask top performers to put together a presentation or report to share with the team. 

If you’d like a working knowledge base for new reps, create a greatest hit reel of their best sales calls and utilize it during coaching.

5. Follow-up

Effective sales coaching pushes for rep accountability. With it, reps are able to provide feedback, assess their performance, and take ownership of their deals. 

Incorporate follow-up into your action plan to be able to check in on issues and ask questions about reps’ solutions. Pair this effectively by monitoring your sellers’ timelines and scheduling additional coaching sessions if needed. 

Lastly, remember to praise progress, offer feedback on roadblocks, and share wins with the team. Coaching isn’t worth much if you’re only critiquing your team! 

Keep These Factors in Mind 

As you continue to incorporate actionable tools and techniques into your sales coaching strategy, make sure to keep these pointers in the forefront of your mind. 

Continuously refine your coaching process 

To create an ongoing coaching process, start by aligning metrics you are tracking with desired outcomes. This lets you track progress over specific timeframes, allowing you to consistently reference your goals and ensure alignment on them.

Incorporate intentional resources (courses, workshops, playbooks, etc.) in this process to improve coaching skills and standardize practices. 

In addition, use a common workflow that includes routine assessments where learning thrives and feedback is celebrated. 

As you gain feedback from your team, continue to refine and improve your coaching process.

Leverage Data

Leverage your data for success

Anecdotal evidence has its time and place, but for sales managers to be great sales coaches, they need concrete data to support observations. 

Utilize platforms like Salesloft Coaching to create and share a team dashboard. 

With a team dashboard, reps will not only be able to gauge their own data performance, but they can also see who the top performers are and reach out for advice. 

Don’t just include activity data. Indicators such as sentiment, personalization percentage, and time of day that contact is made are vital for salespeople.

Focus on outcomes 

Coaching to outcomes

By focusing on outcomes, you can tie seller activities to pre-set targets. Doing so will help you identify leading indicators of pipeline coverage and revenue growth. 

And we’re not just talking about outcomes like the total number of calls. We’re talking about opportunities created, meetings booked, and moving the opportunity to stage two.

When you dig deeper into data, you can find the source of issues and coach to the specific challenges your team or individual reps are facing.

Keep your eye on the prize 

Keeping your eye on the prize (e.g. implementing a successful sales strategy) gives your managers a unified purpose to coach towards. 

The same goes for your rep’s individual goals. Regularly engage with low, mid, and yes, even top sellers to identify their professional goals. 

For example, most SDRs are focused on career advancement. In every coaching conversation, explain how the improvement they’re making now will help the SDR in the position they want. 

Keep reminding your sellers of their goals and keep managers on track for broader coaching goals. 

Baseball player pitching to batter

What Are the Benefits of Sales Coaching? 

Once all of this work surrounding sales coaching is applied, you become eager to see the outcomes. Read below to explore some of the benefits related to effective coaching. 

1. Improves seller retention rates

Among sales teams, there is an estimated employee turnover rate that has soared as high as 27%: double the rate of the overall labor force, and enough to make sales leaders faint. 

However, sales coaching can help combat this rate. With consistent, one-on-one coaching sessions with experienced managers from the onset of onboarding, sellers are able to identify and target areas of opportunity early on. 

This builds selling skills and creates confidence among sellers, ultimately keeping sellers in their seats and ready to advance in their careers.  

2. Increases sales rep performance and win rate

Data-driven sales coaching guides managers in developing best practices for their teams.

Managers can provide feedback and actionable insights on virtually every aspect of their individual rep’s performance. Salesloft’s sales coaching software also allows managers to step in and guide reps to close, boosting win rates. 

3. Maximizes the investment in sales training

Organizations spend $15 billion a year on sales training. And yet, Gartner reports that B2B sales reps forget 70% of their training within the first week. 

The key to maximizing your training investment? Reinforcement.

Coaching not only keeps training fresh in mind—but seasoned sales managers can provide enriching insights that training cannot. 

Coaching likewise allows managers to offer feedback and discuss the sales cycle from the rep’s perspective. This motivates sales reps to take ownership, think proactively, and work on their problem-solving skills. 

Upgrade Your Sales Reps With 1:1 Coaching From Salesloft

Oftentimes, boosting your bottom line starts with uplifting your sellers.

Give your sellers a little help with Salesloft’s sales coaching software. When managers and leaders can pull data from both Salesloft and CRM, it sharpens reps’ skillsets and empowers every member of your team.

Learn more about Salesloft Coaching and reach out to start 1:1 coaching with Salesloft.