Athletes require ongoing coaching to ensure they’re always ready to win. In the same way, sellers need coaching to ensure they have what it takes to close the next deal — as well as all the others that follow.
In fact, the positive impact of sales coaching is proven. Our research with Heinz Marketing found that eight in 10 teams with effective sales coaching practices hit higher than 75% of their sales quotas. With results like that, organizations can’t afford not to coach reps.
Sales coaching must go beyond deal reviews
Many sales orgs claim to coach their reps. But, according to CSO Insights, nearly 63% of sales orgs take a random or informal approach to sales coaching. Typically, this ad hoc approach is primarily focused on deal reviews.
Of course, as-needed deal reviews are an important way to improve the outcome of a given sale. But on its own, deal coaching isn’t enough to improve long-term results.
The best sales orgs take a different approach to coaching. Rather than focusing solely on deal coaching, they deliver a blend of coaching types delivered at regular intervals to improve long-term success.
How the best sales managers are coaching their reps
There’s no denying that coaching is hard work, especially as sales teams continue to grow. Our 2022 State of Sales Readiness Report analyzed more than one million users at 350 companies and found that sales managers have an average of eight sellers reporting to them.
That said, time spent coaching is time well spent as frequent coaching is correlated with greater sales success. On average, managers lead just one coaching session per rep per month. However, managers of top-performing reps complete an average of three coaching sessions per rep per month.
Let’s take a closer look at the three types of coaching the best sales managers are delivering to reps — and how often they’re doing so.
#1 Opportunity sales coaching
When someone hears the phrase “sales coaching,” their mind might immediately go to opportunity coaching. That’s not surprising, as it’s the most common type of sales coaching.
Our research found that 85% of sales reps report being coached on open deals.
Opportunity coaching is an important way to improve the outcome of a deal. For example, a sales manager might identify that something in a deal isn’t going the way it should. This might be based on feedback from the rep during a pipeline review meeting. Or, it could be insight they get by leveraging a conversation intelligence solution that sheds light on how the rep is performing.
In either circumstance, the manager can provide opportunity coaching that’ll help the rep steer the deal back on course. And this will improve the chances of them ultimately closing the deal.
How often are the best managers delivering opportunity coaching? Sometimes, this coaching happens at a regular cadence — for example, during a weekly pipeline review. At these meetings, reps and managers discuss current opportunities — and how to move them forward.
Often, though, opportunity is delivered as needed — for example, when a rep raises a question or concern or meeting intelligence uncovers an issue.
#2 Skills sales coaching
In general, skills coaching is a lot less common. A mere 24% of reps report being coached on skills. That’s a troubling statistic.
While opportunity coaching improves the outcome of a single deal, skills coaching is required to ensure reps have the skills and behaviors needed to consistently close deals.
The best sales managers recognize the importance of skills coaching on long-term behavior. As such, they aim to deliver at least one skill-based coaching session per month per rep.
What skills do they focus on? The short answer is, it depends. The first step is for organizations to identify the knowledge, skills, and behaviors a rep needs for success by developing an ideal rep profile (IRP). Then, each rep should be measured against this gold standard. This helps managers identify where there are skills gaps. Armed with this data, sales managers can deliver targeted, personalized skills coaching that addresses the needs of each individual rep.
#3 Targeted sales coaching
If there’s one thing sellers can count on, it’s that things are always changing. New products are released. Pricing or packaging is adjusted. A new competitor enters the marketplace. And those are just a few of the many changes faced by reps.
The best sales managers deliver coaching sessions to address changes and ensure reps are equipped to adapt. Typically, targeted coaching is a single session on a specific, targeted topic — often followed by enablement content such as content, training, or a role-play exercise.
When it comes to sales coaching, follow-up is key
Sales managers are busy. But the best ones know that coaching is worth the time and effort. On average, top managers complete 12 coaching sessions per month.
But coaching isn’t a one-time event. For example, a manager can’t simply deliver a skills coaching session focused on objection handling, check it off the list, and never think about it again — at least not if they expect actual improvement.
The best managers know that proper follow-up and ongoing reinforcement are key to effective coaching. Our analysis found that top managers are three times more likely to assign content, training or a role-play as a follow-up to a coaching session.
This follow-up is paying off. Reps who are assigned follow-up actions post-coaching see an average improvement of 13 points in Sales Readiness Index scores.
Start closing gaps and optimizing seller performance with coaching
Sales coaching, when done well, is proven to significantly boost sales outcomes. Deal coaching alone won’t cut it. The best sales leaders are using a blend of deal, skills, and targeted coaching to ensure the entire sales team has what it takes to close deals.
Ready to see how Mindtickle can empower you to deliver personalized, effective sales coaching at scale? Learn More.