What is Sales Coaching?
Sales coaching is the use of trained coaching skills, methods, and strategies to guide a salesperson towards peak performance.
It is a powerful tool that every salesperson should get; it helps make up for weaknesses as well as shore up strengths. Coaching helps to answer questions on selling strategy and tactics.
Difference between Training and Coaching
Coaching is different from sales training. Coaching helps your team members reach their full potential and become the best they can be. Coaching contains mostly positive, constructive feedback, while coaching also focuses on strengths, abilities, and productivity. With coaching, you'll see a marked difference in your team's ability to succeed in sales.
While training is about instructing and telling, coaching is all about guiding by asking the right questions. This helps the salespersons in discovering the answers on their own, leading to confidence building and better results.
Training is usually one time, less frequent and like scratching the surface. Coaching is more intense, for a longer duration and like a deep dive. While training is normally a group activity, coaching is one on one.
Trainees may forget to implement what they have picked up in a training session as they are on their own. A coach working closely with the salesperson ensures successful implementation.
Training or Coaching, what comes first?
Ensure that your salespersons first undergo training in sales skills like prospecting, presentation, communication, value creation and negotiation. They should be aware of the normal techno-commercial aspects of sales. Once they have this basic understanding, you can consider investing in coaching.
What are the benefits of Coaching?
Coaching helps in personal development of individuals in a planned way. It helps them gain confidence and clarity, leading to better results. For the organization, it helps in creating a great culture, enhances employee retention and improve topline & bottom line.
Need for Sales Coaching
While sales coaching has been prevalent in the western world for many years, it has yet to take roots in India. People here are familiar with sales training but not with sales coaching.
Sales Managers know how to manage their sales team but do not know how to coach them. The reason is that they themselves had not been coached when they were in a junior position, or they do not have time for coaching or may be the management is not aware about the aspect of coaching.
Managing is different from coaching. Salespeople will not be able to discover their true potential if they are only managed and not coached. It is therefore necessary for every salesperson to be coached. It is not that only the underperformers need coaching, even the top performers need it to help them improve and discover blind spots. As in the field of sports, where competition is intense, all top players have dedicated sessions with their coaches, and this helps them perform better. Likewise in the business world, with increasing competition, salespersons need to be coached to have a competitive edge.
What areas of sales are covered under coaching?
Coaching covers all the areas under the sales process, starting from prospecting, lead qualification, proposals, closing, payment collection etc.
It also covers areas like customer relationship, territory & account planning, communication, giving and receiving feedback, collaborating with internal stakeholders, behaviors & attitudes etc.
What levels in the sales hierarchy can be coached?
Coaching can be imparted across all levels in the sales organization - right from the head of sales to the frontline salesperson. Even new employees, under performers, as well as top performers can be coached.
How is it conducted?
Coaching may be conducted either in person or remotely via video conference. It is usually a one-to-one session that the coach has with the salesperson.
Should you work with a professional Sales Coach?
Hiring a professional sales coach makes it possible for companies to increase the effectiveness of their coaching, as a coach will be able to spend more time with each salesperson, thus maximizing each lesson learned through coaching.
Since Sales Managers usually do not have the time, training or inclination to coach, an external coach can fill in the gap. Moreover, an external coach can provide a neutral third-party viewpoint, without any bias. It is likely that the salespersons may be more open with the coach than with their manager.
Relationship between the coach and salesperson
The coach and salesperson need to share a very cordial relationship. It must be based on mutual trust and care. Both should have a shared belief towards making a difference and achieving the desired goals. Both need to make a considerable investment of time and effort to see success.
Finally, are you coachable?
Every salesperson needs to answer this question honestly. Do not work with a coach if you think that you do not need one. Coaching cannot be forced upon by the management. The salesperson should be willing to walk that extra mile. It is lot of work, learning and fun.
However, if you and your sales team is convinced and willing to change for the better, go ahead and invest in Sales Coaching. You can be assured of rich dividends.
To your success!