Investing in Sales Coaching Pays Off: Here’s Why

There is a cause and effect relationship between developing your people and your sales results. Although this may seem like a common sense statement, too many companies ignore the connection or don’t act on it. Our latest research survey, conducted by Training Industry, shows that 53% of individuals who work at companies that achieve high-revenue growth believe sales coaching is always or almost always effective. In essence, these high-revenue growth companies invest more in coaching and get better results than lower revenue growth companies.

Coaching, by definition, is all about developing your people. High-revenue growth companies are doing this deliberately and with purpose. And it pays off.

The Difference between Coaching and Managing

To be clear, coaching and managing are really two different things. Managing is typically all about delivering the results. So, if I’m a sales manager I have a quota and I’ve got to deliver that revenue – essentially, I’m looking in the rearview mirror at what has happened in the past to measure progress.

On the other hand, coaching is about looking forward and developing people. Often, it’s a challenge for sales managers to understand that they need to do both. They don’t necessarily know how to do the coaching because they’re so focused on getting the sales manager’s job done effectively. In addition, they may not have been trained to coach other salespeople – and managing and coaching are very different skill sets. This is why your best performing sales leaders are often lousy coaches if they are just thrown into the role.

How to be Consciously Competent

A coach must not only have expertise, but they must be “consciously competent.” It’s one thing to know how to how to sell successfully, but it’s another to consciously realize how to build that same skillset in other sales reps. That’s why ValueSelling Associates offers a Sales Coaching program designed for sales managers. The coaching program builds on the ValueSelling Framework® training and provides a common skillset and toolset, so everybody is speaking the same language and playing the same game.

Broadly, there are two types of coaching – tactical, in-the-moment coaching and more strategic coaching. Tactical coaching includes observation of sales calls and interaction with immediate feedback, and strategic coaching includes advancing opportunities, maximizing territory, call planning, etc. Our survey results showed that respondents valued both types of coaching almost equally.

The Most Effective Coaching Skills

Coaching effectively builds specific sales skills. Our research study surveyed 330 U.S. sales professionals from a wide variety of industries to explore the role of sales coaching within B2B companies. It found the following skills were always or almost always effective when supported by sales coaching in high-revenue growth companies:

  • Listening/communication skills (67%)
  • Product/service knowledge (67%)
  • Presentation skills (63%)
  • Sales process (62%)
  • Engaging prospects (55%)

To establish these skills in sales reps, a coach needs to be able to observe, be objective, and provide feedback. In providing feedback, a lot of questioning comes in. This is not just telling the rep what they did right or wrong but understanding how the sales rep feels about what they did, where they need to improve, and building a mutual understanding and a plan to build or improve those specific skills.

The Value of Investing in a Coaching Program

One of the principles we often talk about is that even a coach needs a coach. Coaching is a skillset that needs to be continually practiced and refined just as sales reps need to build their skills. Our survey results showed that while some companies have defined periods of coaching engagement, 29% of companies made coaching an ongoing priority – and for companies who have been implementing a sales coaching program for five or more years, 42% implemented ongoing coaching.

Our best clients understand this, and they invest in coaching training for their managers while they’re investing in their reps. They learn how to overlay the ValueSelling Framework into all aspects of their management process. Most importantly, they learn to measure success and how to determine that ValueSelling is being used and is making an impact.

Sell with Value!

Relevant topic? Listen to the recorded webinar, originally aired on October 17th at 10 AM Pacific: Four Keys to Effective & Superb Sales Coaching.