How to excel at sales coaching
Sales coaching is a crucial element in driving revenue growth. By working with your sales staff, you give them the skills they need to close deals. Many think coaching expertise comes naturally — but just as team members don’t become top performers overnight, most managers aren’t born great coaches. It’s a skill you can learn and hone through practice. Here are five ways to do just that.
A sales team brings ongoing value to the company, so coaching is an ongoing process. Think of sales coaching as a long-term proposition that develops the unique talents of each individual. This takes time and commitment.
Make coaching a priority by putting it on the calendar. Aim for weekly or biweekly meetings and stick to the appointments. If it’s on the schedule, coaching will happen. If it’s on the end of your to-do list, it might never get done.
As you work to improve your coaching skills, it helps to take cues from others who have found success. Look to experts and renowned business leaders for tips on sales coaching. Ask people you know and respect for guidance.
Reaching out to people across industries can help you gain a new perspective. Sales coaching doesn’t have to keep you in the box of your existing network. Learn all you can from people in peripheral industries or even those operating in a different part of the economy — they may all have something to teach.
Every member of your sales staff brings something to the table — that’s why you hired them. Tailor your lessons to each person. Ask them what they want to get from coaching. Invite them to share any positive and negative experiences they’ve had in the past with coaching, so you can start with what works for them.
Develop an approach that’s relevant to your team members’ present experience. To prepare for the first session, ask them to jot down notes about their current pain points and what they want to learn.
As you hone your coaching skills, you’ll find techniques that work well for you and your team members. Finding out what works and what doesn’t is part of the process. Take a gamble once in a while by trying new coaching styles. Role-playing and analyzing client calls are excellent methods — but always be on the lookout for new ways to close deals.
Again, you can take cues from your sales reps and experts in other industries. Welcoming new ideas can help your company to develop new sales methods. That’s critical in competitive industries, so always look to add more tools to your toolbox.
There’s no shortage of literature on sales. Books on business and economics sell at a pace of approximately 20 million copies, collectively, in the United States in a given year. That market is huge, and you have a rich resource of information you can use to improve your sales coaching.
Don’t let the sheer number of volumes get you overwhelmed. Take an hour and select a few good books. Read what you can and incorporate a little from each into your lessons.
Don’t give up! If you’re new to coaching, the prospect may be daunting. Your first few sessions may have some hiccups, and that’s OK. Give it some time to work before you scratch that coaching appointment time off the schedule. It will likely take a bit of adjustment before you find the right style that produces results.
Be patient with yourself and your team as you go through this learning process. Encourage your team members to voice their concerns and share ideas. They’re usually on the front lines on cold calls or trying to convert a prospect — their insight can help you to become a better coach.
Coaching has real benefits. It helps your sales team to do its best and improves the company’s bottom line. Like managing, coaching is a skill that most people learn and develop. It requires you to think outside the box, do research, gain insight from others, and work with your team members on an individual basis.
Feel free to experiment along the way — and remember to savor the victories as you see the results start to take shape.
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