Most firms take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to learning and development for their sales teams. You hire, you train for a few weeks, and then it’s time to let your team members loose on the world. Maybe you sign everyone up for a workshop or a seminar once in a while, but that’s about the extent of what you need to do to stay on top of trends, right?
If this approach sounds familiar, you’re probably not getting everything you can out of your team. Sales coaching is on the radar for more businesses as they see the value of providing ongoing learning opportunities for their team members.
What Is Sales Coaching?
It sounds simple in principle: You coach your sales team to sell more and be more effective, much like a coach coaxes athletes on a football team to be their best.
Like athletic coaching, coaching for sales is more complex than that: You have to find the right mix of motivation, feedback, and training opportunities to allow your sales people to flourish. Some athletes perform really well under harsh coaches; others wither. Your sales people will be the same.
Analytics are a huge part of any coaching job, and it holds true for sales. Before you can implement a strategy, you need to crunch the numbers. Once you can see where your people are performing and where they need to improve, you can refine a strategy that lets them do their jobs more effectively.
You don’t want to set unattainable goals or try boosting performance in an arena where your team’s already performing well. Analysis can direct you to the areas where you’re successful, so you can analyze those strategies and figure out how why work.
Taking It to the Team
Now that you know what sales coaching is and how it works, you want to understand how it benefits your team. Obviously, it allows each and every team member to perform more effectively, from your heavy-weight all-stars to your junior players.
Studies show coaching will boost the performance of your middle by nearly 20 percent! While you may not see much improvement near the top (since these reps are already effective) or the bottom (as these reps may be in the wrong career), the solid performance of those in the middle gets a boost.
Since that boost affects about 60 percent of your workforce, you’re bound to see sales increases. Even when the coaching strategy is less than ideal, you can expect a six to eight percent increase per rep.
An outside sales coaching professional is particularly useful, since this expert can provide you with an objective perspective. Outside coaches are also able to assess your team to identify the skills you already have and those you need to continue developing.
Once you know which skills you need to work on, you can implement a development program. Ongoing efforts at development allow your team members to continuously improve their sales skills, and to stay on top of trends in the selling world. Better yet? Your reps will love these opportunities, which makes them more motivated and engaged—factors that boost their productivity in and of themselves.
Sometimes, all it takes to get more out of your team is the right motivation. Coaches understand this, and sales coaching can provide team members with the motivation they need to perform better.
Some firms think higher pay or bigger commissions are all it takes to motivate sales reps. Motivation is incredibly individualistic and often more complicated than dollar signs. With the one-to-one relationships offered by sales coaching, you reps will find their own personal motivation to achieve.