Do you think you’re an effective sales coach? According to a study done by the Harvard Business Review, the answer to that question is probably yes. It’s possible, however, that what you’re doing isn’t coaching. Instead, it’s simply telling someone what to do.
You may not even realize that what you’re doing isn’t sales coaching. Participants in that study tended to evaluate one another favorably. That was despite instructing rather than coaching in many instances.
Instructions are often essential. Nevertheless, giving only directives where coaching would be helpful isn’t doing your team any favors.
We will discuss practical sales coaching tips that will improve your coaching skills and help your team grow.
Why Sales Coaching Is So Important for Any Business
Sales coaching is critical on several fronts. First, as you likely suspect, it helps your sales reps grow and improve in their roles.
It can also help you refine your company’s sales processes, which can have a lasting positive impact.
A comprehensive sales coaching plan will allow you to identify areas where your company and personnel can improve.
How Can Coaches Improve Team Performance?
Sales coaches improve team performance by encouraging agency and intrinsic motivation. These two qualities have trickle-down effects.
When team members have the power and ability to analyze their performance, they feel ownership over it. As a result, their investment and engagement increase. They’re more likely to take steps to improve.
Effective Sales Coaching Tips That Truly Work (for Both In-Person and Remote Teams)
Now, let’s get into the coaching tips themselves. We know that some teams have had to move to remote operations due to the pandemic. Others have always done so. Therefore, we were careful to select tips that will work for both in-person and remote teams.
Focus on the Well-being of Your Sales Reps
Before anything else, focus on the well-being of your sales reps. If working in sales were easy, everyone would do it. As it is, it can be emotionally and mentally draining.
The stress associated with meeting a quota and the frequent rejections from potential clients take their toll.
As many as 40 percent of salespeople struggle with their mental health— a rate twice that of the general workforce.
Depression, anxiety, and burnout result in lost productivity. More importantly, they result in the loss of talented salespeople who become convinced they can’t cut it in the industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue.
Sales coaching is your chance to change matters. Because it typically occurs in a one-on-one setting, you can have an open and honest conversation about mental health.
You can’t change the fact that your reps will encounter challenges and adversity. You can, however, give them the tools and training they need to develop resilience.
Take Improvements One Step at a Time
The primary goal behind sales coaching activities is to identify areas where your team can improve. We all have the capacity to grow, so you’re likely to find at least a few.
Don’t create a lengthy list of changes to make for each team member and then turn them loose. That much criticism, constructive or not, is disheartening to receive when not balanced by praise. In addition, it’s overwhelming.
Instead, focus on making one improvement at a time. Break the process down into small, easily achievable steps and celebrate your team’s successes.
Coaching is a process, not an item to check off of your to-do list. The improvements that stem from it won’t happen overnight either.
Use Visuals To Help Illustrate Performance
All of the coaching in the world won’t matter if you’re not tracking your results. Often, they’ll take the form of a spreadsheet. That’s fine. However, we recommend using visuals to help illustrate changes in team member performance.
You’ve heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If you ask us, a graph or a chart is worth even more than that.
When going over a team member’s progress, don’t just slide a column of numbers their way. Instead, have graphics on hand. You don’t need anything more complicated than a bar graph or line chart.
Having something tangible to look at can highlight successes and produce a well-earned sense of achievement.
In some cases, the visuals won’t show the progress you’d like them to. That’s a setback, but it’s not the end of the road. You can overcome almost any hurdle, and visuals created between one quarter and the next are helpful for comparison purposes.
Review Call Recordings Frequently
You can’t help your sales team if you can’t meet them where they’re at. To do so, review call recordings regularly.
If you have the time, you can review the recordings yourself. Large, fast-paced companies may benefit from using an AI tool to evaluate the calls, however.
When you review the recordings yourself, you can offer a personalized analysis that best suits the sales rep in question. An AI can help you track keywords and look at market trends.
We recommend putting together a collection of exceptional calls and a collection that illustrates what not to do. These can serve as valuable training tools down the road, especially if your company operates remotely.
Rather than having new employees shadow more experienced reps via video call, they can review the recordings. As a result, everyone saves time, and you can ensure they’ll see the breadth of situations you want them to.
Build Trust With Authentic Storytelling
We can’t talk about effective coaching without also discussing how to build trust. As a sales coach, you need the reps you’re working with to trust you personally and professionally.
When a rep trusts you, they’re more willing to open up about the challenges they’re facing. They might be struggling with imposter syndrome or a lack of confidence when dealing with clients. However, personal issues influence professional performance all the time. Maybe the rep is in the process of moving across town, or one of their parents is sick.
You won’t be able to solve every problem your reps encounter. You may not even be able to offer advice. What you can do is create circumstances in which they’ll succeed despite any issues.
One of the best ways to build trust is to establish a rapport with the rep. You can do that by sharing stories and anecdotes from your life and career.
It’s essential that these stories feel authentic. That means sharing situations in which you made mistakes, discovered a weakness or failed. Ideally, the stories you share will also address how you turned those situations around.
You want your reps to know they’re not alone and that they can overcome challenges.
Call for Backup When Needed
Even sales coaches with years of experience occasionally need a helping hand. You’re just one person, and you will encounter situations and problems outside of your scope.
When that happens, don’t be afraid to call for backup. That can look several different ways.
You might want to take a coaching class to brush up on your existing skills and build new ones. You could reach out to a mentor who has helped you in the past too.
Learn What Motivates Your Team To Succeed
What motivates the members of your team to come to work every day? Of course, the promise of a paycheck is obvious, but that can’t be the only reason.
There are plenty of jobs out there. Working in sales at your specific company isn’t the only option your team has, so why are they here?
Sometimes, the answer to that question might be that their current career is the path of least resistance. The rep might not be passionate about what they do, but it’s easier than finding something new.
The members of your team might like the company culture or their benefits package. As their manager, you likely factor into why they stay too.
To really understand your team, you need to dig deeper than that. The factors we discussed above are all extrinsic motivators. While they might be enough in most cases, they come from the outside.
Instead, look for the intrinsic motivators that drive your team members. What parts of their positions give them personal satisfaction? It can be anything from closing deals to helping clients.
Your message is more likely to stick when you offer coaching that involves the intrinsic motivators of an individual.
Allow Your Team To Set Their Own Goals
Let’s say you sit down with a rep, and they tell you they want to hone their sales pitch. You have two options. You can support them in their efforts, or you can assign a goal you think is more fitting.
Which option do you think is going to produce better results?
When you let your team set their own goals, you’re increasing the likelihood that they’ll buy into your coaching.
The exception to this rule is if there’s something critical that needs to change immediately. You’re unlikely to encounter a situation like this, however. You should address urgent issues long before they come up in coaching.
Ask Each Rep To Create Their Own Action Plan
Discussing changes and improvements is only the first step. From there, we recommend having each of the sales reps you’re working with create an action plan for themselves.
Reps can refer to physical documentation again and again as needed. That way, they don’t forget anything. Writing something out also encourages deeper thinking about the subject.
A good action plan will identify a goal and specific, achievable steps to make it happen. The rep should also set a timeframe in which to accomplish the goal.
Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Team
The idea of boundaries has been getting a lot of buzz recently, particularly in increasing virtual workplaces.
The downside of working from home is that, conversely, you’re also living at work. That can be draining without boundaries in place.
What does a day in the life of one of your sales reps look like? Do they send and receive emails at odd hours? How often do they work through meals?
Clearly state the hours during which you expect your reps to work. Then, encourage them to keep all of their work activities within those hours. That means no calls and no emails before or after unless it’s an emergency.
The company isn’t paying them to be available 24/7. It’s probably not paying you to be available all the time either. Set healthy boundaries so that you all have time to rest and decompress.
Hold Your Sales Reps Accountable
Accountability is a vital part of the coaching process. It’s not micromanaging or a sign of mistrust on your part. Instead, it’s a way to support your sales reps while they strive to meet their goals.
Check with your reps frequently to see what sort of progress they’re making. If they’re stuck, ask them what you can do to help overcome the roadblock.
In addition, many people find it easier to prioritize tasks when they have someone to hold them accountable. Sales coaching doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and your reps have other things to do. By offering them accountability, you’re giving them the space they need to improve.
Offer Opportunities for Professional Development
Our final sales coaching tip is to offer plenty of opportunities for professional development. Your reps are investing their time in your company. You can return the favor by investing resources in them.
Professional development doesn’t have to take the form of trips to conferences or certificate programs. Instead, it can be something as simple as a group chat dedicated to discussing a podcast.
Some managers worry that professional development opportunities don’t provide enough value to justify the time spent on them. That’s typically not the case, however. You’re likely to see a boost in engagement and productivity instead.
If you want to see long-lasting results from your sales coaching efforts, Selling Revolution is here to help. We can help create a custom training plan that will transform your team and your bottom line. To learn more, book a call with us today.