How would your leadership team react if they learned that one simple change could increase your company’s annual revenue growth rate
That may sound like clickbait, but I’m not talking about pursuing a new account or implementing a pricey new tool. All you need to do to achieve these gains is to provide your sales staff with coaching.
Not all sales coaching is effective, however. Ever attended a training session where you sit in a room with thirty other professionals, your eyes glazing over as the presenter speaks at length about tactics you already know? It feels like you’re just waiting for the session to be over so you can check the “complete” box on your training requirement.
To avoid providing this type of experience to your team, you’ll want to ensure you’re following a proven sales coaching template. This post will go over seven points you should hit in every sales coaching session, providing you with the template you need to help your coaching efforts (and your team) succeed.
How To Use a Sales Coaching Template Effectively
Before I go into the details of the ultimate sales coaching template, let me clarify what I mean when I say “sales coaching.”
Professionals often use the words “coaching” and “training” interchangeably, but they are two different professional development tactics. Neither of these methods is inherently better than the other—in fact, I believe both of these tactics work best when used together.
Sales coaching refers to the process of working one-on-one with your employees to develop new skills and improve existing ones. It results in a mentor-mentee type relationship between the coach and the employee, with both parties working together to improve the employee’s skills.
Though this mentorship may progress organically, you should still ensure you’re hitting the key elements in every coaching session. Let’s dive in and examine the seven steps that make up my ultimate sales coaching template.
1. Start with Data
Maximize your results by having baseline data and targets on key metrics. You can start with your CRM and your sales reports to review key metrics, to identify what coaching might be the most helpful in improving the salesperson’s performance. But other tools also provide actionable insights about what areas of improvement you might explore. One good example is a competency model, a list of traits and skills that your sales team needs to succeed.
Use your sales tools to track and record sales conversations to give you a starting point for each team member—as well as consistent data to track improvements. Whether you record a phone call or a video meeting, you give your team the opportunity to explore and improve their effectiveness in the sales process.
2. Employee Self-Evaluation
How does your employee perceive their performance? This can provide a helpful “temperature check” to set the right tone for a successful coaching session. A good competency model is a great starting point, as it allows the employee to identify the areas they believe they need to improve.
You also want to ask each person to assess their results. Sometimes it’s important to build an individual up when they are in a slump, while other times you may need to push them out of their comfort zone so they’ll try new strategies and tactics.
Take the employee’s self-defined weak points into account when building your coaching plan. There are two choices in coaching. The first choice is to bring awareness to something you recognize as a barrier to better results before the individual sees it. The second choice is to invite the salesperson to choose the area they believe they need to improve. Both of these choices are effective, so look for ways to combine them.
3. Performance Reviews
Review the employee’s performance/progress since your last coaching session. One scenario in which coaching doesn’t produce results is when the sales manager conducts a coaching session without exploring the behavioral change the salesperson needs to make to succeed.
If that’s the case, the manager needs to continue to coach the salesperson on the same topic until their next performance review. You don’t want to allow the person being coached to jump from one skill or trait to the next without actually improving.
During this process, discuss challenges and potential solutions, but don’t insist on your own way. Good coaching starts with allowing the person being coached to explore their challenges and potential solutions. The reason to use a non-directive approach to coaching is that you want your team to be resourceful and take initiative. It may end up being necessary to tell the salesperson exactly what to do, but you want to save that advice until they have exhausted their own ideas.
4. Employee Input & Discussion
Ensure the sales rep feels involved in the discussion. In any coaching conversation, the person being coached should be doing most of the talking. The coach is there to provide prompts, offer feedback, and facilitate the exploration of new beliefs, potential new actions, and new and better outcomes. As a coach, make sure the salesperson you are coaching is doing the work of solving their problem, with you as their guide.
Successful coaching is a dialogue between the mentor and mentee, not a one-sided presentation. There is a tendency for sales managers to tell the salesperson what to do and how to do it. That’s just giving orders, not coaching or training. It’s what you do when you don’t want to take the time to provide coaching, even though most surveyed salespeople say they want more coaching from their managers. Make every coaching session a conversation.
5. Training Exercises
With the right platform, you can provide your team with the strategies, tactics, and talk tracks that give each salesperson a starting point for improving their results. We built the Sales Accelerator to provide the right content for the traits and skills salespeople need to succeed in today’s environment.
6. Establish Next Steps
Coaching is about improving competency and increasing effectiveness. No salesperson should leave a coaching call without a strong plan for the changes they are going to make before the next call. These next steps must include executing behavioral changes in conversations with their prospective clients.
As the coach, you also need to schedule a follow-up meeting to review the salesperson’s results, dialing it in if necessary. Without this follow-up it isn’t coaching, it was just a conversation.
7. Make Coaching Organic
A great sales coaching experience is more than just a series of meetings—it’s a relationship. Most sales managers claim that they don’t have time to coach their team. The best strategy is to use every conversation as a coaching conversation. Instead of solving problems for your sales force, teach them how to solve them for themselves. The best sales managers cause their people to grow.
Check-in with your employee to ensure they’re armed with the tools they need to meet the goals set in the last coaching session. If they are missing any resources, provide them with the strategies, tactics, and talk tracks they need to succeed.
A Template is Just the Beginning
Following the steps in this ultimate sales coaching template should give you all the tools you need to lead data-driven, effective, and collaborative sales coaching sessions with your team.
While sales coaching is something you may be able to do in-house, you and your team will benefit from leveraging a proven sales training program. Using resources like the ones provided in the Sales Accelerator will allow your team to level-up essential skills and develop a healthy, growth-oriented mindset.