With many sales reps having less than half the work experience they had just a decade ago, an increasing reliance on strong sales coaching tactics has become imperative for rep success. But just because sales coaching has become a common practice doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it – or even exactly what it is.
Sales coaching is the ongoing, persistent relationship between managers and individual reps. It’s aimed at sharpening the reps’ strengths through 1:1 coaching, as well as helping them improve their weaknesses. To effectively build out your sales coaching strategy, there are a few key points you want to consider.
You need a strong plan of action to effectively coach, and most importantly, you need to be able to present that plan of action clearly to your reps. Are you more concerned with increasing your win ratio this month, or are you focused more on customer retention? Whatever your major goals are, make sure your team is aware of your expectations and where you want your organization to go. Where do you see your sales team next quarter? Next year?
You should reaffirm priorities regularly, and meet with your team to ensure everyone is on the same track. If there is a need to shift focus, for example from customer acquisition to retention, make sure your reps are aware of how and why.
Once you have a clear direction to follow, have communicated it plainly, and have established clear benchmarks for general success – you need to take a step back and deeply evaluate your team. Who are your A-players? What strength is most abundant on your team: persistence, passion, empathy? What strength are you most lacking in?
Based on which areas your reps are excelling or falling behind, take time to determine what metrics are best to monitor for each of them individually. For example, monitoring a rep’s lead response time may uncover the true reason why the quota for qualified appointments or demos scheduled is not being met as opposed to simply chalking it up to a poor lead or sales pitch.
Set up routine times to talk with your reps, one-on-one, and gather their insights. Communication is a two-way street, and much like the sales process, sales coaching needs to function like a conversation between a rep and a prospective customer. Trusting your A-players is just as important as empowering them, and in order to fully leverage your team, it’s imperative to listen to what they have to say.
Being on the front lines gives your reps a unique perspective into the inside sales world. Gleaning as much as you can from their outlook is pivotal for developing strong coaching techniques and increasing sales acceleration. Remember that real sales coaching occurs on a 1:1 level, otherwise reps won’t feel personally empowered or vested in their company.