Sales Coaching Tips – Part 1

Sales Coaching Tips – Part 1

Business coaching is typically done in the office.  However in sales, some of the most effective coaching happens in the field while meeting with customers.  This brings both opportunities and challenges for sales managers to coach effectively and develop sales representatives.

Coaching, as sales coaches, is to help our sales representatives:

  • Sharpen skills and build confidence
  • Capitalize on strengths and neutralize weaknesses
  • Be willing to stretch and take risks
  • Commit to common sales “standards”

To become an effective sales coach, it is important to know and understand some concepts and tools common to sales coaching.

Field coaching

Field coaching is unique in that it occurs on the job.   This coaching takes place before and after sales calls, during preparations for upcoming sales calls, and while building strategy for a sales opportunity.  It is typically an informal, daily interaction between coach and sales representative.  Field coaching is often the most effective coaching because it is in the moment.  If coaching is withheld until the end of the day, valuable coaching and teaching moments are lost.

The Sales Coaching Spectrum consists of Joint-Sales Calls, Observed Coaching Calls, and Unobserved Coaching Calls

There are three types of field coaching, as described below:

1.  Unobserved coaching calls

  • Call is jointly planned
  • Call is executed buy the sales representative, without the presence of the manager
  • Call is debrief together afterward

Because unobserved coaching calls involve much smaller time investment by the coach, they can be done with greater frequency.  The coach can focus on guiding and coaching the call planning effort.  This activity helps improve the sales representative’s chances of success on the call and will provide the coach with valuable context for the post-call debrief.

2.  Observed coaching calls

  • Call is jointly planned
  • Call is executed by the sales representative, for the purpose of assessing and coaching by sales managers
  • Call is debriefed together afterward.

These are the trickiest, given the dynamics of the customer and sales representative interactions, so require more skill and preparation.  Observed coaching calls are the most effective in impacting sales performance.

3.  Joint-sales calls

  • Call is jointly planned
  • Call is  executed by both manager and sales representative
  • Call is debriefed together afterward

Here it’s important the coach has a good reason for being present for the call.  Some possible objectives for a joint sales call may be to provide a unique “value-added” contribution, to help sell the company, not the “deal, ” or to increase customer relation focus.

These three Field Coaching opportunities are more reactive, direct, and “in the moment.”  They are usually done between calls in a car, over lunch, waiting to see a customer, or in the hallway at the office. Like a sports coach during a game, it is important to take the opportunity to help the team member make needed changes right away.  This allows them to immediately apply the new behaviors and a chance for the sales representatives to see different results right away.

Good sales coaches utilize this more direct approach, taking certain variables into consideration to ensure their approach is tailored to each sales representative for the greatest chance of success with coaching.  To learn more about these variables, click here to read Sales Coaching Tips – Part Two.

About the Author

Peter Long

Peter Long has over 30 years of experience in sales leadership and direct selling. 17 of those years were with one of the world’s leading service corporations, where he held positions as Manager of Marketing and Sales Training and Global Leadership Development. Peter was assigned for 18 months to their European operations to lead a team in realigning the sales organization under a new business model. Peter has designed and developed large, multi-faceted change initiatives; project managed cross-functional teams globally including the Americas, Middle East, and Euope; and has facilitated many workshops and seminars related to professional selling, leadership and management skills, as well as coaching and teamwork.