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10 Tips for Valuable Sales Coaching

blog author
Written by Andy Springer
Chief Client Officer

Sales managers tend to believe they do a good job helping sellers solve problems and coaching them to build their capabilities. However, only 32% of sales managers are effective in getting maximum performance from sellers.

Finding a balance between managing and coaching roles can be challenging for sales managers, but sales coaching pays off when done well.

Sales managers need to play both their management and coaching roles well to achieve top performance.

For many managers, though, it’s all too easy to focus on day-to-day management responsibilities and not devote time to coaching. But the best sales managers recognize the importance of sales coaching.

Read on to learn 10 tactics you can adopt to make sales coaching meaningful for your sellers.

10 Sales Coaching Tactics to Get Top Performance from Sellers

Sales coaching needs to be planned—and be a priority—to succeed. These 10 tips can keep you on track and help your sellers improve their sales performance. Included is data from our research on sales management to highlight the impact coaching makes with top-performing sellers.

1. Set a Rhythm

Top Performers are 51% more likely to have regular, ongoing coaching.

In order to set a rhythm to coach your team, break down the necessary tasks into the time they’ll take. These tasks can include:

  • Quick check-ins
  • Accountability checks
  • Deal reviews
  • Sales meetings
  • Pipeline reviews
  • Upskilling
  • Team building

You may find that the amount of time you need to spend per week with each seller is less than you think. Estimate the length and frequency of each task so you can better plan around operational responsibilities and create a consistent coaching plan for each member of your team. You can refine as you gain experience with the process.

My Sales Coaching Rhythm

Develop or refine your sales meeting coaching rhythm.

Hours Per Week
Daily Meetings
  • Quick checks and huddles: 10 minutes per day
Weekly Meetings
  • Accountability checks (individual): 10 minutes per week
  • Win Lab deal reviews (individual): 1-2 per week / average 30 minutes each
  • Sales meeting (team): 1 per week / 60 minutes
Bi-Weekly Meetings
  • Pipeline review (individual): 1 hour
  • Core coaching (individual): 1-on-1 check-in / 30 minutes
Monthly Meetings
  • Review plans, results, accountabilities (individual): 1 hour
Quarterly Meetings
  • Quarterly summary and strategy (team): 1.5 hours
  • Team building meeting / training: 1.5 hours
Less than .25
Average time in meetings per week per seller Approx. 5 hours

2. Lead Valuable Coaching Conversations

Top Performers are 40% more likely to be skilled at leading valuable coaching meetings.

You have a plan for when and how long you plan on meeting with your sellers. What does each of these meetings look like?

Strong coaching conversations include three key components: Did, Doing, Do.

  1. Did: Review commitments from the last meeting. Where do things stand? Are there any issues that require follow-up, such as lack of execution or time spent on unproductive activities? You already have the list of items the coachee committed to during the last meeting. Go through the list and discuss any challenges that prevented them from doing what they committed to.
  2. Doing: Spend most of the conversation here, discussing the coachee’s most important sales topics. For example, perhaps they have challenges around how to pursue a major sales opportunity or prospecting outreach. This is where you can coach to help them succeed. Ask questions. Identify gaps.
  3. Do: Finally, what is the coachee going to do between now and the next session to set themselves up for success? How can you support them?

Be as specific as possible. For instance, if your seller is looking to fill their pipeline, you might consider the following questions:

  • How much should they prospect each day?
  • When will it happen?
  • Who else needs to be involved?
  • What are the expected activities and metrics?
  • Are these activities the best to help them achieve their annual or quarterly goals?

Wrap up the coaching conversation by having the coachee write a list of shared commitments for action for you to review and adjust, if needed. Use this list as the starting point for the next meeting.

3. Motivate Sellers

Motivating sellers for high productivity and performance is the #1 skill of Top Performers and the greatest difference between Top-Performing Sales Managers and other managers.

Companies might use compensation, bonuses, and incentives to motivate, but it often takes more than that to drive sellers to achieve at their highest level.

In our Extreme Productivity research, we found that extremely productive people are more likely to be driven, but the exact source of this drive varies. This is because motivation isn’t static—it can be developed and enhanced. When your team’s motivation is high, you get maximum effort and proactivity from them daily.

Sellers may be motivated by many different factors, including compensation, incentives, achievement, altruism, advancement, creativity, recognition, or leadership. Once you learn what motivates an individual seller, you can build a coaching plan with that in mind.

As a sales coach, you're in a prime position to motivate sellers for productivity and performance by helping them visualize how they can achieve their goals and providing resources and support for them to get there.

4. Help Sellers Build a Goal and Action Plan

Top Performers are 41% more likely to excel at helping sellers build meaningful goal and action plans.

One of the five coaching-related roles of sales managers is to coach sellers for focus and action planning: helping sellers target the right areas to spend their time and effort and avoid distractions.

Goal and action plans provide the map to help sellers stay on track.

Most goals start to look a lot more achievable when broken down into smaller ones and linked to specific actions. Start with the big-picture goal, 3-year goals, and annual goals. Then, create an action plan by breaking out the specific activities that will help achieve those goals.

Use our Goal Setting Worksheet to help you and your sellers build meaningful and achievable goals and action plans which include the following steps:

  1. Set Your Goals: First, what is your long-term, big-picture goal? Next, what is your three-year goal? Finally, your annual goal?
  2. Plan Your Actions: Identify the actions you need to take to reach your goals. Break this down by quarter, month, week, or even day. Identify quarterly priorities, monthly objectives, and related success metrics. Identify your Greatest Impact Activity, the task that will give you the biggest return for the time spent.
  3. Change Habits: What habits will help you achieve your goals? Identify habits you want to change and the steps you’ll take to change them.
  4. Master Your TIME: You can think about the time you spend in four levels. Map out where your time is being spent: minimize the time spent on mandatory or empty tasks. Maximize time spent on investment activities that generate outsized returns and treasured time spent doing what makes you happy.
  5. Set Boundaries and Avoid Distraction: What behaviors interfere with your ability to complete the task? Identify what distracts you. Don’t get drawn into other people’s priorities. Complete a “to don’t” list to hold yourself accountable.

5. Prioritize Productivity

Sellers who work for Top-Performing Sales Managers are significantly more likely to be stronger across all nine productivity factors studied.

Building a culture of productivity on your team starts with you as a manager: you can’t prioritize coaching if you’re struggling with your own productivity. Assess yourself on the following nine factors to learn where you can improve.

Do you:

  • Get the most done and produced in the time available?
  • Sustain energy for long periods of time?
  • Focus on your own agenda without getting derailed by those of others?
  • Change your habits when needed?
  • Maximize time spent on activities that drive the best results?
  • Hold yourself accountable to your commitments?
  • Stay proactive?
  • Not allow yourself to be distracted?

If not, you’ll have a difficult time coaching your sellers to get the best outcomes from the time they spend working.

While all these factors are important, I’d like to highlight accountability, especially when it comes to the consistency necessary for a sales coaching plan to work. Top Performers are 1.3x more likely to have a manager who excels at holding them accountable to their stated goals.

6. Advise on Specific Situations

Top Performers are more likely to excel at coaching sellers on a variety of tasks, such as leading great sales conversations (52%), winning sales opportunities (45%), growing accounts (47%), and filling their pipelines (30%).

While coaching is often proactive rather than responsive, it’s sometimes necessary for coaches to turn situations into learning opportunities.

Any advice given should be prompt, specific, and tied into an existing area of development if possible. For instance, if a seller excels in a specific part of a sales call, focus on it immediately. What did they do well? Brainstorm actionable steps the seller can take to repeat their success.

Sellers might also need guidance on how to solve a problem, such as closing a deal or negotiating with a persistent buyer. In these cases, give your sellers the opportunity to talk to you about what they’re experiencing. You don’t have to interrogate them about their issues, rather, encourage conversations in which they feel comfortable being honest about the challenges they’re facing.

7. Create a Seller Development Plan

Top Performers are 37% more likely to excel at coaching sellers to build sales skills.

The Seller Development Plan outlines the seller’s areas of development focus. Start broad and work your way in. Call out the skills, knowledge, or attributes you want your sellers to build. From there, note their current proficiency in these areas and where you’d like them to be at the end of this plan.

The plan for how to develop these areas doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should at least include relevant programs, learning materials, or resources sellers can use to get there. Lastly, include how proficiency will be measured or determined.

Seller Name: Tony Mann Last Updated: October 22

Overall Areas for Development Focus
  • Lead more thorough and effective needs discoveries
  • Make the ROI case compellingly
  • Create and present highly-effective proposals
  • Become much better at large opportunity pursuit intensity

Skills, Knowledge, Attributes Proficiency
Low 1 — 5 High
Plan to Develop
Including training and coaching
Testing for proficiency
  Now Target    
Influencing Buyer Agenda 3 4 Advanced Consultative Selling skills training Call Reviews
Insight about financial services industry 3 5 Weekly reading and discussion of industry news; get subscription to 2 leading magazines Discussions during coaching; knowledge share to team at monthly meetings
Motivated and productive 2 4 Attend 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity program Weekly action plans and reviews; calendaring Investment time

8. Build Specific Sales Skills

Managers of top-performing teams are 1.5x more likely than other managers to strongly agree they excel at coaching sellers to build selling skills (48% vs 32%), but there’s a big disconnect between managers and sellers. Only 33% of Top-Performing Sellers strongly agree their manager excels here, and just 25% of other sellers.

There’s a lot of work sales coaches should be doing to foster skill development, but the results speak for themselves for coaches who do it well.

We’ve studied 85 selling skills and behaviors across 12 categories. A regular, ongoing schedule of coaching sessions is positively correlated with higher seller skills in all categories:

  • Relationships
  • Needs Discovery
  • Conversations & Communication
  • Solution Crafting
  • Value Case Making
  • Advancing the Sale
  • Productivity
  • Negotiating
  • Prospecting
  • Account Management
  • Virtual Selling

Dig deep and identify the skills your sellers should focus on as specifically as possible. Two sellers may be struggling with negotiation, but coaching to create better solutions will be very different than coaching to manage buyer negotiation tactics. In some cases, supplemental sales training can help bridge skill gaps and solidify your team's capabilities.

9. Support New Hires

Sellers with less that 5 years’ experience are 240% more likely to be a Top-Performing Seller when they have an effective manager.

Every new seller represents a significant investment to train and develop. Because of this, hiring and retention are both important. Modern sellers are more likely to change jobs if they feel an organization isn’t a good fit. Without strong training or coaching, skilled sellers often get frustrated by the lack of support and leave.

As a sales manager, it’s up to you to shorten time to performance and maintain support throughout the tenure of a new seller. It’s never too early to start thinking about a seller’s development and how you can help them reach their goals.

10. Assess the Status Quo

Most sales coaching is conducted on an individual level, but improving as a team is just as important. Take an honest look at your team’s performance and summarize three to five areas your entire team needs to improve for overall success.

It’s important to also assess yourself. Write out how your coaching strategy will be different so you’re not tempted to slip into old habits. Define success metrics for your team to measure progress and rethink your methods as necessary.

Sales Coaching that Matters

Strong management helps keep a team going, but it’s sales coaching that drives sellers to achieve at their fullest potential. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your sales coaching roles—even your best sellers have areas where they’ll benefit from sales coaching.

With these 10 tactics, you can build the foundation of a sales coaching plan that addresses your sellers’ needs and drives positive change with your team.



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Topics: Sales Management