The Best Areas to Focus Your Sales Coaching Efforts

By Gabrielle Hughes

The purpose of sales coaching is to get the absolute best performance from your salespeople – but coaching is a demanding job, and can overwhelm many sales managers. To help you stay focused, here are the key areas you should focus your coaching efforts.

Area #1: Onboarding

As we make clear in our Sales Onboarding and Ramp Guide, great sales coaches do seven key things during the onboarding process.

  1. Let reps view a full sales cycle
  2. Show them what good looks like
  3. Let reps learn on demand
  4. Crowdsource training content
  5. Continually measure
  6. Let reps demo sooner
  7. Use a consistent framework

The message is clear: Sales coaching starts with a strong core onboarding strategy. Create your system, then work toward the next step. Use this slide deck to maximize your sales onboarding process.

Area #2: Sales Calls

Sales-call coaching involves two steps: pre-call planning and post-call debriefs.

Pre-call Planning

Prepping for routine sales calls should include a review of basic selling skills, including cold calling, objection-handling techniques, and discovery calls.

Here is a short list of pre-call planning topics salespeople often find helpful during coaching sessions:

  • Deal Status/Pipeline Stage
  • Key Pain Points
  • Key Strengths
  • Core Vulnerabilities
  • Competitors Involved
  • Desired Call Outcomes

Post-call Debriefs

Great sales managers will perform call review and analysis to get a real sense of how salespeople are performing in front of prospects and customers.

To assist your call reviews, use this 12-step sales process to spotlight common mistakes and proactively coach reps on best practices.

In the interest of saving time, we recommend using call recording and analytics software to perform your post-call debrief and to critique rep performance. This approach works much faster than call shadowing or anecdotal Q&As with reps; it also gives sales managers more flexibility for how and when they conduct their reviews. Compare call debriefs to professional sports, where breaking down game film is much more effective than coaching from memory.

Area #3: Sales Pipeline Review

The goals of a full pipeline review are to get a macro picture of a sales rep’s deals, plus deliver to the rep actionable, tactical advice for moving deals through the sales pipeline. Here are four key components of a pipeline review:

  1. Review deal progress and stage changes
  2. Identify any new leads in the pipeline
  3. Assess the viability of existing opportunities
  4. Strategize about how to pursue the warmest opportunities

Sales coaching also requires coaches to analyze pipeline trends. Lean on your sales operations and analytics team to analyze opportunity movement, speed, and conversion rates among the various stages in your pipeline.

Whenever you find weak spots in the pipeline, formulate a hypothesis about the root cause behind poor performance, test it with data and anecdotal conversations with reps, and then implement specific coaching tactics to fix the issue.

Area #4: Weekly One-on-ones

Consistent, recurring, actionable one-one-ones are a vital part of the sales coaching process. To ensure your weekly one-on-ones are effective, focus on the most valuable blocking-and-tackling aspects of the sales process. For example, we recommend focusing sales training and one-on-one discussions on these seven areas:

  1. Discovery Calls
  2. Prospecting
  3. Presenting
  4. Objection Handling
  5. Selling Against Competitors
  6. Customer Storytelling
  7. Selling to C-Suite Executives (if applicable)

A great sales coach will drill into the areas of weakness for his or her reps and coach reps on how to improve. Moreover, he or she will build trust and rapport with reps, set and track KPIs, and map business objectives to the personal and professional objectives of the sales rep. You can draw from this list of top sales books to help highly motivated reps in areas of need.

Gabrielle Hughes is senior content marketing manager at Gong.io, a conversation intelligence platform for sales. Gong helps sales leaders close the performance gap between their top reps and everyone else by giving them visibility into their sales conversations.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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