Effective Sales Coaching

10 Best Practices of Effective Sales Coaching

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1. Effective Sales Coaching

More and more companies are turning to Sales Coaching in order to support their sales teams, however many managers have no formal training or experience in successfully delivering sales coaching.  Every good coaching programme has 10 key elements which make it easier for both the coach and the coachee to implement and get results.  

If your company has a sales coaching programme then you may already have incorporated some of these ingredients, but you will hopefully find 1 or 2 ideas to improve your programme.

10 Best Practices to Effective Sale Coaching

  1. Process – sales coaching should follow a proven and repeatable process.  This helps manage expectations and helps both the coach and the coachee deliver a more consistent outcome
  1. Context – Coaches are not there to judge or be critical of the coachee, they are there to support them so the tone, body language and actions of the coach are critical.
  1. Cadence – effective coaching needs to have a rhythm and sessions should be every two weeks which allows time for the coachee to implement and gain feedback on any new actions and outcomes.
  1. Dedicated Sessions – coaching sessions need to be stand alone sessions and not part of another meeting or just ad hoc conversations with sales reps
  1. Data Driven – coaching should be data driven, objective and factual where ever possible.  Beliefs and feelings are important but cannot be challenged without facts and data.
  1. Challenging – the purpose of sales coaching is to develop and grow salespeople and therefore needs to be challenging and take the coachee out their comfort zone.
  1. Questions – Effective sales coaching should include a mixture of Directive, Non Directive and Collaborative style questions.  Whilst allowing coachees to formulate their own solutions is always preferable when time is limited and the coachee is stuck the coach should simply provide their suggestions.
  1. Document & Record – both the coach and the coachee should take notes during the session and record what has been said and agreed in terms of any actions.
  1. Measure – Effective coaching needs to deliver an ROI for the coachee and their business  and should therefore be measured.
  1. Holistic -where required, sales coaching should have access to relevant training content that supports the coaching process.

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2. Why Sales Coaching Matters

Effective coaching in any business must deliver an ROI for it to be worthwhile, however, there is a hidden benefit that many companies miss out on.

Furthermore, the hidden benefit of coaching may be worth more to the business than the quota attainment that drives many sales orqanisations towards effective sales coaching in the first place.

Whether you are a large Enterprise organisation or an Entrepreneur coaching salespeople in a startup this hidden benefit if overlooked can cost the business hugely and set the business back sometimes years in terms of growth yet most business leaders aren’t even aware of it.

Effective Sales Coaching
Effective Coaching

Quite simply, unless you are coaching and developing your top Sales Reps they will eventually leave and this will cost your business literally thousands to replace them. What’s worse is that in addition to the top reps leaving the underperformers will stay.

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3. Why Effective Coaching is Important

We’ve written previously about the correlation between sport and sales, more specifically similarities between the management, training and coaching of top-performing sportspeople and salespeople. 

Take a minute and think about your local gym or health club which may not be the most obvious place for Sales insights, but there are usually lots of people in these places, which makes it a great place to learn about human behaviour. Every great business has great people behind it, so the more we can understand what drives and motivates these people, the more we can use these strategies and techniques to drive performance in the workplace. If you’ve been down your local gym recently you’ll recognize this straight away and if you haven’t, then it’s well worth going there to check this out. 

3.1) Good Salespeople want to be Great Salespeople

Most of our clients for sales training are already good Salespeople, they just want to get better. This is what made them great and what drives them to continually improve. Gyms are mostly full of fit people and whilst this might be what you would expect, should Gyms not be full of overweight people who need to lose weight? Salespeople who regularly miss targets and need to improve are the least likely to want any form of sales training or sales coaching. 

3.2) There is no quick fix

Top sales performers and professionals understand they need to train to get fit, but they also understand that in order to stay fit they have to train continuously. Gym members have trained hard for months and years to get fit, not days. If you want to grow your business you have to grow and develop the people in it, and Salespeople cannot get sales fit overnight. Effective coaching is a long term commitment to coach your sales team using proven coaching activities facilitated by an effective coach.

3.3) Great Salespeople need great leaders

Gym members who are fit don’t want to be coached and trained by people who are overweight or are just simply unfit. Top salespeople mentally evaluate their Sales Leaders and if they aren’t being motivated, inspired or feel they can learn from their Leader, they will either “coast” or even worse, look for a new challenge. 

In order to get the benefits of coaching, sales managers need to fully understand sales performance, the individual strength and weaknesses of every team member. In order to improve your sales performance managers need to set time aside for coaching sales reps and this should be one of their own metrics.

3.4) Great Salespeople want to be part of a high performing team

What we mean by this is that the best Salespeople want to be surrounded by others who share their values, their hunger and their passion for selling. When top Salespeople who constantly meet or exceed sales targets see other salespeople around them all missing their targets, they either leave, or even worse, they lower their performance to match the level of the under performing sales reps.    

Whether you are running a Startup or a large corporation, the “sales fitness” of your team members directly impacts their ability to hit sales targets. A fit sales team will not only outsell your competition, they will do so faster, and at a much lower cost of sale to the business. 

Effective coaching improves the overall sales fitness of a sales team by coaching Reps on things like Win Rates, Sales process & Opportunity Management. Like going to the gym, making sales improvements is never easy, however, if you want different sales results than you are currently experiencing, then it is unlikely they will improve on their own. Reps will only improve when they are developed through formal coaching sessions.

Next time you go to the gym imagine what you would do if the Instructor wasn’t fit? You may stay for a couple of sessions but you are unlikely to stay month after month if you are serious about getting fit. Quite simply if you want to retain your top salespeople you need to invest in them and develop them before they leave and find an employer who will.

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4. Retaining Top Sales Performers

More and more If you don’t look after your top Salespeople another business will. If the business is comfortable letting salespeople leave because they are struggling, so be it, however, in many cases, the next Salesperson might equally struggle without the right support around them. Sales success starts with Sales Leaders who set the bar for sales rep performance, and then coach and train their people hard, to surpass that bar.  

In many cases, business struggle to retain the top salespeople who hit their targets but always manages to retain those that miss their targets. Needless to say, this is not a winning strategy.

Effective Sales Coaching keeps your top Sales performers engaged, motivated and sharp. Most of all the right type of coaching will help them stay longer and help you avoid the expensive recruitment process if you have to replace them. Finding, interviewing, hiring and on-boarding new salespeople comes at a cost to the business financially as:

 • A Global Survey by Career Builder of over 6000 Hiring Managers and HR Professionals reported 62% of UK Companies had admitted to making a wrong choice when recruiting.

• 27% of responders reported the mistake had cost them more than £50,000.

• This also has a negative impact on their business in terms of loss in revenue, productivity and challenges with employee morale and client relations.

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5. Cost of Hiring the Wrong Sales Reps

5.1 Direct Costs

Reduced Productivity – Salespeople inevitably mentally wind down when they know they are leaving and the last month whilst important from a handover perspective is inevitably less productive.

Increased Recruitment Costs – currently 10-20% of Salary

Damaged Client Relations – clients like dealing with good Sales Reps and when the Rep changes then the new Salespeople have to start from ground zero building relationships and trust.

Lost Sales – most companies estimate that Reps don’t reach break-even in terms of revenue generation till between 3 and 9 months

Training – the cost to train new salespeople is significant even without structured training programmes as management time spent training and time with colleagues who are buddying up all ads up.

5.2 Indirect Costs

•Low Morale – constant churn of staff creates additional workload for others and makes it difficult to build a winning team and culture if the players keep changing.

•Support – your on-boarding process will include support from other team members, some of which are not even in sales. Supporting new hires is a distraction that comes at a cost.

•Management Time – time spent by managers finding, interviewing and hiring salespeople is time that could have been spent with the sales team and customers.  

•Brand Reputation Damage – customers notice when there is churn in their suppliers team and this might be the change that lets your competitors in the door.

5.3 Cost of a Wrong hire

Many companies find it difficult to hire the right type of Salesperson for their organisation that will be both successful and stay. In many cases they make what is called Bad Hires. These are Salespeople who leave within 12 months of hiring.  

Based on a Salary of £50,000 and a Sales Rep who left after 6 months this will cost the business:

•Wages for 6 months £25,000

•Employers NI @ 13.8% £ 3,450

•Recruitment Fees @ 10% £ 5,000

Based on these figures providing effective sales coaching that reduces these costs and increases sales is the good basis of a business case to implement your own effective sales coaching programme.

Effective Sales Coaching
Klozers Sales Coaching

At Klozers our target customers are B2B organisations with Sales Teams, however, we have a steady flow of private clients. These are top sales performers who believe they are not being supported at work and they pay us from their own pocket for sales coaching. In addition to improving their sales skills, each one of them has set the personal goal of finding a new employer. Given the quality of every one of these Sales Reps, we can’t help but think this is such a waste. 

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Selecting the right Sales Coach

Selecting the right sales coach is key to successful coaching and improving sales performance. Often sales managers don’t have time to deliver coaching for every rep and need external support. We can provide expert coaches not only with many years of experience.

Our expert coaches can help with all your sales enablement needs – contact us now for a no obligation conversation.

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Author Bio

Iain Swanston has spent over 30 years in B2B sales selling, training and leading teams both domestically and internationally.  In addition he serves as an Associate at Strathclyde University Business School where he has delivered the sales content for the Masters in Entrepreneurship since 2015.

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