At the heart of every sales team is the pursuit of a singular goal: To create relationships with customers, understand their needs and problems, and connect them with the best solutions.
In the pursuit of that goal, it’s vital that your sales department has best practices and ongoing sales training in place to help your salespeople understand your company’s products and their benefits as well as your company’s customers, their needs, and how to authentically connect with them.
But for all of the practices and training sessions that might be set up, the work of building those relationships and establishing that trust is ultimately carried out by people — your sales team."Sales coaching is a direct investment into your entire department's sustained performance and your company's customer retention rate."
Even though each member of your sales force is guided by the same training, each individual rep possesses a different background, worldview, personality, and might even have years of experience with other sales methods.
When those factors work in harmony with your company’s sales methodologies, you’ve got another top performer in the making.
But should the performance of one of your reps begin to consistently decline, it’s time to take a look at them at an individual level.
Could it be the case this rep simply isn’t up to the task of selling? Perhaps.
Will their selling problems be corrected by them undergoing more of the same training? Probably not.
What you’ve got is a sales rep that is in need of sales coaching: personalized, one-on-one instruction that uncovers and helps solve the specific setbacks your rep is facing.
But how does it work? And what are the key objectives that sales coaching focuses on accomplishing?
To get a more well-rounded understanding, let’s dive into those objectives and learn how sales coaching helps your salespeople better understand themselves and empowers them to build stronger customer relationships.
What are the objectives of sales coaching?
“Sales coaching” can often feel like a nebulous term. While there is some degree of variance between coaching programs and styles, the core tenets of effective sales coaching set out to accomplish specific objectives.
1. Learning where improvement is needed in your representative’s sales process.
There’s a lot that goes into successfully completing a sale: pre-qualification of customers, working with gatekeepers, learning customers’ specific needs and expectations — and that’s just a small portion of the work involved.
And throughout each phase of the process, if there’s a misalignment between the salesperson, the customer, or your company, it can result in a major stumbling block that clogs up that rep’s sales pipeline.
This is where the vital — and sometimes uncomfortable — work of sales coaching begins.
Digging through each layer of preparation, communication, and follow-through, the coach helps the salesperson recognize where their processes are falling short and how those missteps are impacting their overall performance.
In this phase, it’s important to pay attention to how receptive your sales representative is to receiving and implementing constructive coaching.
If your rep recognizes the criticism is valid, takes responsibility, and seems receptive to the process, then the coaching process is far more likely to lead to great results.
If, however, there’s a flurry of excuses and clear lack of willingness to take responsibility for any performance shortcomings, it may be worth considering if they are a good fit for your sales team at all.
2. Developing and executing a personalized plan for improvement.
The goal of sales coaching isn’t to simply point out the flaws of your reps’ performance and then leave them to their own devices.
Quality programs help reps recognize points of weakness, understand why those weaknesses exist, and then to build a structured plan to overcome them.
These structured plans, however, should never be simple one-size-fits-all solutions.
Sales coaching, by its very nature, is personal and dives deep into the capabilities, motivations, fears, and anxieties of salespeople.
For an effective improvement plan to resonate with your rep and ultimately be effective, it has to be constructed with those items in mind.
By getting into the unsugarcoated realities of why your rep’s performance is faltering, and by getting honest about what’s the driving force behind it, you can get to work in crafting a plan that helps them find success.
With this plan in place, your rep can recognize that they’re not beyond help and, by working together with their coach, they can build a path of success for themselves, improving both professionally and personally along the way.
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3. Developing a system of analysis, accountability, and continuous improvement.
After the sales coach and your sales rep construct their plan, you’re well on your way toward helping that rep become an effective member of the sales team.
As your sales rep begins to faithfully work the plan, it’s imperative that regularly-scheduled review sessions are set up in order for the coach and your rep to track their progress, discuss how the plan has been helping, and reviewing the next steps of action.
More importantly, these regular sessions also help your rep know that there’s someone who is truly invested in their success and wants to see them win. This positive reinforcement plays a huge role in how faithfully they’ll stick to the plan and how earnestly your sales rep will put forth the effort to improve their performance.
4. Providing salespeople with a supportive presence and expert source of insight.
When a new salesperson joins your sales team, they have to get used to new leadership, new teammates, new accounts, and they have a slate of new products and service to learn.
Altogether, this can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, but it’s a vital part of adapting and thriving as a sales professional.
While seasoned sales veterans will likely be able to acclimate and adapt to the new environment more quickly, a younger salesperson might have a tough time finding their footing.
And, should this newcomer falter in their performance, it can drive them to even lower levels of performance as they attempt to hide their mistakes and avoid leadership.
With a proven sales coaching strategy in place, however, the desires to hide low performance and to avoid members of leadership aren’t given the opportunity to take root. Your sales reps, new and experienced alike, will know that their leadership cares about their development and wants to see them succeed.
In turn, you discover new problems quicker, communication flows more easily, and your sales reps feel supported by your company, fostering higher performance and deeper levels of professional trust.
5. Helping salespeople develop stronger relationships with customers.
The members of your sales team might bear the title of “sales representative,” but their real role is that of trusted advisor and partner to your customers.
No matter what industry you’re in, your customers are buying from your sales reps because they have solid relationships that are based on mutual trust and respect.
Whether through poor communication, lack of follow-through, or some other shortcoming, if your sales representatives can’t build relationships, then you simply can’t expect them to perform.
Through coaching, both the coach and the sales rep roll up their sleeves and get into the root issues as to why these meaningful connections aren’t forming.
By bringing these issues to the surface, not only is the coaching helping your sales rep better understand their shortcomings as a salesperson, but also the traits, fears, and anxieties that are no doubt present in their personal life.
It’s not the easiest task, but by digging into the “why” behind the failure to build connections, your rep can understand the causes and create a plan of continuous improvement alongside their coach, and begin building fruitful customer relationships.
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Sales coaching is a personal, one-on-one, and continuous learning experience that uncovers what stumbling blocks your salespeople are encountering and reveals why they are there and the steps needed to improve.
Whether working with a professional sales coach or coaching internally as a sales manager, sales coaching helps your sales team develop personally and professionally.
And through this continuous effort, you invest in your department’s sustained sales performance and customer satisfaction.