6 Tips to Improve Sales Coaching & Turn Your Sales Reps into Sales Champions

by: Rebecca Herson

April 21, 2021

 

improve sales coaching

Your sales employees are the driving force that closes deals and brings in revenue, so you want to make sure that they are the absolute best sales agents that they can possibly be. That’s what sales coaching is there to achieve.

Our own research found that 96% of professionals in sales, sales enablement, and marketing roles agree that sales coaching can make a significant impact on performance. Even “born” sellers need sales coaching to bring out their full potential, just like world-class, medal-winning athletes. Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps are all naturally gifted, but even they need excellent coaches and mentors to help them push their limits, break their own records, and achieve new levels of success.

It’s no different in sales. Great salespeople might have natural talent, but they still need sales mentors and sales coaches. Not to mention the fact that no sales team can be made up only of naturally talented sellers, because there simply aren’t enough of them to go round.

Enterprises need top sales coaches to teach lower-performers effective sales tactics, guide natural sellers to maximize their potential, and assist middling sales employees to improve their sales skills and reach higher. We share our X top sales coaching tips for building a team of sales champions, no matter how much natural ability they possess.

1. Effective sales coaching starts with time

There’s something to be said for learning on the job, but you want sales reps to know how to ace a call before they get on one. The more sales employees can practice a sales conversation, the more confidence and fluency they’ll have when it comes time to hold one “for real.”

Sales coaching tends to focus more on the theory, partly because it’s a lot easier to tell sales employees how to pitch than to enable them to try one out without risking a real sales deal.

The main obstacle to practicing sales conversations is that sales managers generally don’t have the time to either hold one-on-one role play calls with all of their reps, or to review recorded monologues and send feedback to reps. AI-powered simulations can help by expanding the amount of time that sales employees can spend practicing pitches, and delivering accurate, consistent feedback so they can keep improving.

2. Step back a little

It might seem counter-intuitive, but a great sales coach knows when to step up, and when to step back. If you take control over every aspect of sales coaching, sales employees are more likely to feel like passive props instead of active participants and won’t feel as invested in their own success.

But when you hand over tools for on-demand practice, messaging reviews, and measurement of how they are improving, you empower sales professionals to control their own coaching. They’ll be far more motivated to try their best when they can choose when, where, how, and for how long sales coaching sessions will take place, as long as you’ve given them the capabilities to do so.

3. Build up their weak points

One size doesn’t quite fit anybody. Mass sales training programs can have their place, like if you’re sharing a new company story with the entire sales department, but most sales coaching needs to be personalized.

AI-powered analytics can help you to mine recorded practices or real sales calls, identify each sales representative’s weakest points, and then produce targeted feedback that helps each sales employee to understand where they went wrong and what they need to do to improve their performance.

Look too at sales data like conversion rates, average deal sizes, time to deal, etc. to get a better understanding of where potential deals are falling apart, so that you can focus on strengthening those specific skills.

Second Nature automatically analyzes every salesperson’s sales simulations and can pinpoint where reps and their managers need to invest more effort.

4. Incentivize friendly competition

In many enterprises, the real challenge isn’t developing an effective sales coaching program, but getting your sales employees to complete it correctly. When you use leaderboards to foster a friendly sense of competition between individuals and teams, and add gamification elements to make it more like a video game challenge than homework, it can do wonders for everyone’s motivation.

Suddenly, your employees actually want to do their sales coaching exercises, and they’ll even go back over them again and again to raise their scores. Reluctant sales representatives get pressured into it by teammates who aren’t willing to lose points because of one lazy colleague, so sales enablement personnel don’t have to chase them down.

5. Monitor sales employee progress

Although friendly competition makes a big difference, each employee also wants to know if they are improving and moving forward individually. When sales representatives can see the impact that sales coaching is having on helping them meet their quota, they’ll feel even more motivated to give it their all.

To that end, it’s a good idea to enable sales employees to access personal, targeted feedback so they can track their own improvement. Regularly monitor practice calls and develop a consistent scoring system to deliver accurate ratings that chart employee progress. It also helps to set standard metrics and benchmarks as KPIs for employees to use to measure their own development.

6. Improve sales coaching with a better strategy

As you can see, there are plenty of clever tips and tactics for sales coaches to improve sales employee performance, but they are far more effective when you use them together as part of a coordinated sales coaching strategy. Work out your goals for your sales coaching employees, consider how different tools can help, and then plan how to best achieve your goals.

For example, do you want to increase the size of deals that are being closed, raise the number of deals, or broaden the number of products being sold by each rep? What do you intend to achieve in the next 30-60-90 days? By this time next year? Your sales coaching will be much more effective when you tailor it to specific aims.

Finally, you’ll need to regularly review the results of your sales coaching to verify what works and adjust what doesn’t.

Top sales employees come from top sales coaching

The best sales coaches use leading coaching tactics like individualized feedback, gamification, and tracking progress to create a comprehensive sales coaching strategy that gives employees control over their coaching time and supports sufficient pitch practice. With AI, these tactics are easy to implement, giving every company the power to nurture sales champions.

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