Sales coaching has become very popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. Studies have shown that companies with sales coaching programs boost their win rates by almost 30%. That rate jumps to over 40% with weekly 30-minute coaching sessions and more than 55% for reps who receive more than 2 hours of coaching per week. What’s more, statistics show that businesses that use effective sales coaches report annual revenue growth of up to 7%!
Those are not insignificant numbers, and you should be, well, sold on sales coaching by now. But before you hire the first person with a ‘sales coach’ title, be aware that not all coaches are equal, so choose wisely. While a good coach can help you to build a team of sales superstars, a bad one can lower your revenue, drag out the sales cycle and increase the time it takes to close deals.
What makes good sales coaches so good, and how do you spot a bad one? In this article, we explore the many benefits of coaching done right and also some of the blunders that make some coaches bad.
The Benefits of a Good Sales Coach
There are many reasons why sales coaching is one of the best ways to build a high-performing sales team that drives maximum revenue. Let’s take a look.
The fine line between sales coaching & sales training
Before we get started, it’s important to note that sales coaching and sales training is not the same. While they sound similar and complement each other, their focus is a bit different. Training involves teaching your sales team concrete skills to use to qualify and close deals, while sales coaching continually develops supporting skills and qualities to create more effective salespeople as a whole. A great sales coach knows the distinction and is highly effective at taking learned skills and using them to turn every single member of your team into a superstar.
Close bigger, better deals faster
The number one goal of sales coaching is to improve the ability of your sales team to close the biggest and best deals, quickly and more often. A great sales coach knows exactly how to guide and grow your sales team towards achieving and sustaining this ultimate goal. They create a culture of excellence and top sales performance.
Better customer relationships
Customer service is an often-overlooked part of the sales process. Just because the deal has been closed doesn’t mean you can forget about the client. Great sales coaches inspire sales teams to build and maintain relationships with existing customers. Good relationships build trust, and trust means a higher chance of repeat business, the holy grail of sales.
Helps the company prosper during tough times
The last couple of years has taught us that tough times can strike at any time and without notice. If businesses want to survive, they need to build a robust organization focused on generating sustained, long-term revenue. A great sales coach understands this and helps you to build a strong, committed team to achieve this goal. They understand that adversity in business is not just business, it impacts people on a very personal level.
Improves retention rates
It’s a well-known fact that sales reps hardly ever win long service awards. Retaining a high-performing sales team is getting increasingly important, especially post-pandemic as people are placing more and more value on self-development than ever before. Investing in sales coaching can help you to retain your sales dream team by offering the right amount of professional growth and development opportunities within the business.
Sales Coaching speeds up new team member onboarding and ramp-up
Getting new team members up to speed with the business culture, processes, and day-to-day ins and outs that makes a business unique takes time. A sales coach can help to speed up this process, prevent onboarding overload and have new team members selling as soon as possible by recognizing and prioritizing the most appropriate information and processes.
Opportunity to share best practices
Best practices elevate sales to the next level by communicating effective strategies that the rest of the team can use as a guide. However, best practices change all the time as better and more effective approaches are discovered. A great coach is in-tune with the latest, most effective best practices and inspires your sales team to implement and share their successful strategies and employ them appropriately.
Sales coaching maximizes investment in sales training
Sales training often requires major investment from companies, especially for big teams and complex products. But training is pointless if the learner can’t remember what they’ve learned. Coaching can make sales training more effective by creating a learning culture. The more open someone is to learning, the easier it is to learn and, most importantly, to remember what they’ve learned.
Improves team communication
One of the biggest challenges for any business is communication. Ineffective communication can have a negative impact on business through missed opportunities, loss of sales, a drop in customer retention, and even increased staff turnover. Sales coaches develop communication channels within your sales team to ensure that information flows freely and effectively. They help each member to capitalize on opportunities and support others if and when needed.
Sales Coaches inspire creativity
Creativity and sales are not words you expect in the same sentence, but in an ever-changing, more uncertain marketplace, it is no longer enough to sell by the book, sales teams must be able to adapt and change their approach and techniques to suit whatever the situation presents itself. Great coaches inspire teams to think beyond the norm and find creative ways to sell more effectively.
The Blunders of a Bad Sales Coach, and how good coaches do it differently
Great coaching can build an extraordinary sales team, but some coaches can have the opposite effect and actually be a bad investment. Here’s a look at some of the biggest coaching offenses, and how great sales coaches handle them.
Coaching too much or too little
One of the key qualities of a great coach is knowing how much training your team needs. Great coaches also know what and how much to teach your team at each training session. They help you apply the best practices, without changing your style or your culture. You stay you, while learning the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW of a sales methodology.
No knowledge of your type of business
You don’t sell in retail and CPG sectors the same way as in Enterprise B2B. Even in B2B, you don’t sell in the hospitality sector the same way as in high tech. A great coach knows every detail about your business, including the personalities of your buyers, those of your sales team. They know what motivates them and how to coach them into achieving both their personal as well as your business goals.
No practical experience in leadership and management
Previous successful sales leadership experience is the best guarantee of having coaching skills. Too many self-declared coaches have never managed a significant sales team of direct sellers or run a business unit. Some even became training facilitators after failing in direct sales roles. Some others have always been in sales enablement or sales operations, never in direct sales. How can you be credible as a coach, if you have no track record of sales? Best coaches and trainers are those who have been successful in direct sales roles, in first-line sales management roles (they coached sellers), and then as second-line sales managers (they coached coaches). The elite coaches ultimately become CEO or CRO with a strategic vision added to their tactical skills.
Focussed on the negatives
One of the dead giveaways of a bad sales coach is their focus on negative aspects, traits, and habits. This negative reinforcement just leads to more negativity and can make things even worse. There is nothing like a negative sales team to ensure lackluster sales. Great coaches understand the importance of acknowledging the negative but that dwelling on it is pointless. Instead, they focus on good and positive things and develop those to change behavior and encourage excellence.
Where to find the best coaches?
Inside the company
The best coaches are your own sales managers. They are the ones who see the seller in action on a daily basis, and can help them. If you are a CEO or a CRO, make sure you invest in training for your managers to help them become great coaches. Coach them to become coaches. A piece of that training can be covered through our course MEDDPICC® for Managers.
If you are a first-line sales manager, make sure you check out these courses.
Outside the company
Growth is important to all business owners, especially in a marketplace where competition is fierce and ruthless. A great coach can help to develop an exceptional sales team that continually strives for excellence.
At MEDDIC Academy we offer collective coaching sessions to review sales deals with our client’s sales teams. These sessions, mostly run by Darius Lahoutifard, can be live online or in person. They are, however, reserved for those clients who have completed both the MEDDPICC® sales online curriculum and the MEDDPICC® workshops. If interested, contact us here.