Sales Team Coaching: Techniques for Empowering Your Team

Posted by Mark Ackers

Sales coaching is, quite simply, the most effective way to upskill your reps and enhance the team as a whole. Take in these statistics:

But coaching isn’t easy, particularly if you’re a busy Head of Sales. In fact, sometimes the work you’ll do as a coach can run counter your leadership priorities. How do you bridge that gap?

In this article, with the help of MySalesCoach expert Fred Copestake, we’ll lay out some coaching methods that will bring out the best in your reps and drive better results in your team.

This article is part of our essential guide to Sales Team Leadership.

 

In this article, we'll cover:

 

The Essence of Sales Team Coaching

‘Sales team coaching is a commitment by the leader to do stuff that helps people get better. Coaching helps implement ideas, take things away and use what’s already inside, all with the focus of getting better.’ – Fred Copestake

Coaching doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s all about doing what you can to get your reps to achieve better results. 

 

 

Core Principles of Effective Sales Team Coaching

The key principle of sales team coaching (or any coaching, for that matter) is that it’s about drawing out knowledge, while training is about putting knowledge in. 

Coaching is about helping people to think, so they can work out what they should do. In team coaching, everyone gets access to coaching as a resource. The leader gives them a time commitment to help them make a genuine difference.

 

Developing a Personalised Coaching Style

While you may want to impose your own style on coaching, it’s really about meeting the needs of your coachee. If you have to adapt your style to make your rep communicate more openly with you, so be it.

Sometimes, that adaptation might mean you tell more than ask.

‘You can ask people questions till the cows come home, but if they cannot get to the answer, it will just waste time. Be flexible enough to say, ‘You know what? I think it’s right that I give a little bit of information here.’ - Fred Copestake

However, you need to understand your rep’s personality before you can know how to adapt your coaching style. Use a model based on solid psychology to assess your coachee’s personality type. It will help you get into effective conversations faster.

 

Key Techniques in Sales Team Coaching

 

 

Goal-Oriented Coaching

Setting goals for your coachee is essential. Be clear on what you want to achieve. Start with the endpoint in mind, and you’ll get there faster and more easily.

‘I often use golf as an analogy for things in sales. You’re aiming towards the hole and want to get there in as few shots as possible. Knowing where you’re going helps define what those shots are. If you haven’t got that, you’ll be smashing the ball around all over the place until you get bored and go home having wasted everybody’s time and effort.’ – Fred Copestake

if you're interested in finding out more about goal setting, motivation and sales team incentive, we have an article here.

 

Feedback and Communication Strategies

When you give feedback during coaching, the first thing to consider is how it might be received. Be prepared that it might lead to anger, resentment or rejection rather than agreement.

You can use the acronym BEER to guide you as you give feedback:

  • Behaviour – Be specific about the behaviour you witnessed; use facts and figures
  • Effect – Share the impact their behaviour has had on the team and why you’re bringing it up
  • Expectation – What they should have done differently (use coaching to get them to spell this out for you)
  • Result – How it will improve things moving forward

 

Motivational Techniques for Sales Teams

You can’t motivate someone; you only tap into motivation that already exists. The best way to do this is to create an engaging environment for your people, so they want to do their best and perform.

Coaching is a significant contributing factor to that environment. Make sure it’s part of your motivation strategy.

 

Role-Playing and Scenario-Based Training

‘Deliberate practice’ can be valuable, but you must approach it correctly. Be deliberate about why you’re doing it. Tell them the skills you’re going to practise and how you’re going to do it. 

Try to make the scenario as close to real life as possible and go the extra mile.

‘One of the things I did before was to get the company’s own buyers, real procurement professionals, to come in and play the buyer in our scenario.’ – Fred Copestake

Sales Coaching Playbook

 

Continuous Learning and Development

‘What happens when you chuck a frog in boiling water? It jumps out, right? What happens if you put a frog in some water and gently heat it up until it boils? The frog gets boiled to death. That's how we are if we're not getting involved in continual professional development. We are in this nice, comfortable warm bath. But actually, it's going to kill us in the end.’ - Fred Copestake

Things change quickly in sales. Even if your team is performing well, if you don’t continue developing their skills, eventually, something will shift, and what was working before will no longer work. 

Coaching is a great way to keep your team ahead of the game. Don’t let your competitors take your advantage. 

If you're interested in learning more about sales team coaching techniques, we have an article here

 

Measuring The Impact of Coaching on Sales Performance

‘It’s dead easy to measure performance in sales, isn’t it? Just look at the numbers? However, I don’t think it’s the right way. For me, it’s all about behaviours.’ - Fred Copestake

Look at how your reps have changed their behaviours due to coaching. Look at how they talk to customers, interact with the team, and use their tools. Focus on what they actually do, and the numbers will improve as a result.

You’ll find that looking at behaviours in this way delivers much more effective feedback on your coaching than any post-session feedback sheet, which can be easily manipulated. As a coach, you want to take people out of their comfort zone and challenge them. You don’t necessarily want them to say how much they enjoyed it. Just focus on how the way they approach the role has changed.

 

Establishing Key Performance Indications (KPIs)

Remember when you set your goals and the steps to get there? Hitting those milestones on your journey indicates that your performance is getting to where you want it to be. So, use those steps as your KPIs.

However, don’t obsess over them. If you get the inputs right, your outputs will be right too. 

If you're interested in finding out more about managing underperformance in sales, we have an article here.

 

Assessing Team Morale and Engagement

‘There’s a questionnaire called the Gallup 12 questions. It’s designed to measure how engaged your team is. They’re not the kind of things you’d naturally come up with and it’s a little bit odd when you first read them. But they’re based on research and give you an indicator that you have an engaged team and your culture is right.’ – Fred Copestake

If you want to find out more about remote sales leadership, and how engage your team even if they aren't in office, we have an article here.

Long-Term Impact on Sales Growth and Retention

Long-term, you should see the benefit of coaching your sales team in customer success, far beyond their stage of the buyer’s journey. If your customers are getting the outcomes you promised, you must be doing something right along the way. 

Coaching, training, and all the other activities you do with your team should help your customers get what they need. Look at your customers’ results (and retention numbers), and you’ll know if you’re going in the right direction.

 

 

Conclusion

Coaching is the most valuable thing you can do with your sales team, but do it in the right way. Focus on their needs rather than your priorities, provide structured feedback, and ensure coaching is part of a continuous learning initiative. You should see the results in team engagement, sales figures and, eventually, customer success.

 

Find out more from MySalesCoach

At MySalesCoach, we help busy sales managers and ambitious reps reach their potential with expert, consistent 1:1 coaching.

To find out more about MySalesCoach, book a call with us today.

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