September 19, 2017

How to Coach Your Sales Reps to Success

Being an effective leader is one of the top ways to boost your sales.

The better you are at leading your team, the better your team will be.

Oftentimes, when your sales are sinking, you can trace it back to the lack of management and poor coaching skills.

In order to avoid dealing with sinking sales, it is best to stay on top of coaching your sales reps.

However, we recognize that this may not be as easy as it sounds.

In fact, the daunting task of coaching your sales team is what has led to this staggering fact: according to a survey, the majority of sales managers dedicate less than 5% of their time to coaching their reps.

We too were surprised by this fact, and want to help change those numbers.

Thus, today we are going to share with you the top 5 ways to coach your sales reps to turn them into skilled salespeople.

 

Top 5 Sales Coaching Strategies

 

1. Understand the Difference between Training and Coaching

The first step in successfully coaching your sales reps is to recognize that there is a difference between training them and coaching them.

Training is what you provide your sales reps when they are first hired, so they learn the ins and outs of your company, as well as its services or products.

When training new sales reps, you will teach them how to perform a certain task that they may not have performed before.

Typically speaking, training is conducted according to a handbook.

In other words, training is usually across-the-board the same for all sales reps, and is not really modified specifically for each person.

Coaching, on the other hand, goes far beyond this.

A far cry from the confines of a handbook, coaching is much more personal and is usually done one-on-one.

Rather than teaching someone how to do a specific task (as is done in training), a sales manager would mentor their sales rep on how to further develop a skill.

Keep in mind that sales coaching should not be limited to only those sales reps who are struggling.

High-performing sales reps typically need a bit of reinforcement and attention as well, but rarely do they need the same level of motivation and encouragement that lower performing sales reps do.

 

2. Coach Advancement for All Levels

coach-advancement-all-levels-sales-reps

The coaching you provide your weakest sales reps will be very different from the coaching that you provide to your all-star reps.

With your weaker salespeople, you may focus your coaching time on teaching them the basics (possibly a second time, as it may seem that training was not enough).

From how to generate leads, to how to cold call, to how to ask questions and how to close deals, you may be coaching them through beginner information.

But, when you switch modes to coaching one of your best sales reps, you still want to ensure that he is also getting value from your coaching.

So, rather than going over the basics (which your high-performing sales rep obviously already knows), you want to focus your coaching time on how he can work larger, more complex accounts.

 

3. Adapt Your Coaching Style

Not everyone learns the same way. While, according to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people learn best through visuals, there are 35% of people who learn best other ways.

Here are all the ways that people learn:

  • Visual
  • Aural
  • Verbal
  • Physical
  • Logical
  • Social
  • Solitary

 

So, what works best for one sales rep, is not necessarily going to work for another.

In short, be flexible.

Talk with your salespeople to gather which way they learn best, and adapt your coaching style to best support their learning styles.

 

4. Determine the Problem

Determine the Problem by Meeting With Your Sales Rep

You want to go into your meeting with your underperforming sales rep with an idea of what he is struggling with.

While you should also ask him directly for feedback in your meeting, we do not suggest going into the meeting without an agenda in-mind ahead-of-time. 

There is a multitude of things that could be causing your rep to struggle with sales, including:

  • Unsuccessful cold calls
  • Too much focus placed on product during calls
  • Too much focus placed on price during calls
  • Not having a conversation with the potential customer
  • Not asking the potential customer questions
  • Not knowledgeable about your company’s products or services
  • Lack of motivation
  • Problems at home
  • Personality clash with your management style

Once you have a more focused idea of what is causing the problem for your sales rep, you will better be able to coach him to work through that problem, and on to success.

 

5. Document Your Coaching

The best way to keep track of the progress of your salespeople is to document your coaching time with them.

Write down what you talk about during your coaching session, what goals you worked together to create and why reaching those goals is important.

It is crucial that you and your sales team are on the same page in terms of what he needs to do to improve.

This documentation will be your backup in case you find yourself having the same conversation a few months from now, due to the fact that a sales rep has not grown in the direction you both had planned.

The other, more positive reason for documenting your coaching is so that you remember when to praise your salespeople for their work.

No one wants to have a thankless sales manager who does not acknowledge improvement. Praising your salespeople, according to Loyaltyworks, makes them 37% more likely to be happy with their jobs.

Keeping your sales reps feeling important and successful is going to make your job more successful, and thus your company more successful.

This way, everyone wins.

 

Your turn: Have you successfully coached a sales rep? Which method worked best for you? Let us know in the comments below!