Sales Coaching That Works

How to build a data-driven sales coaching strategy that drives winning behaviours and increases sales

What is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching relies on the ability of a sales leader to motivate, train and support his/her team throughout the sales process by giving them the tools & insight necessary for them to solve their own selling problems.

There are two main areas in sales coaching:

  1. Opportunity Coaching

This type of coaching focuses on how a sales rep approaches an account in order to acquire new business or up-sell into existing accounts.

It requires a very strategic approach and involves a high level of expertise to help the sales professionals work through things like account penetration, inability to access decision makers or competitive issues.

In order to offer helpful support in this area, it is important for the sales leader to actively be part of the situation, whether this is by joining prospect calls or through regular review meetings with the rep, to better understand the specific challenges.

  1. Skills Coaching

Skills coaching, on the other hand, looks into the selling skills and knowledge of the sales rep. Again, this practice requires the sales coach to take time to observe first-hand how the rep deals with prospects.

An easy way to analyse a rep’s skillset and product knowledge is to join a sales call, so you can provide constructive and actionable feedback the rep can use in the near future.

Give them a week to practice run and then jump on a sales call again to assess whether or not your feedback has been taken onboard.

If necessary, offer further training around weak areas, shadow days with top performing sellers or video tutorials to further their learning.

For sales coaching to be truly effective, it must be timely, relevant, targeted, consistent and based on real data. One-off sessions have little impact on the performance of a sales rep as approximately 50% of training is forgotten within five weeks.


Sales coaching that works well

What are the Benefits of Sales Coaching?

A sales manager with great coaching skills will not only see improved sales performance, but will have better sales rep engagement, reduced turnover and improved job satisfaction.

Fewer initiatives have higher ROI. Research undertaken by the Sales Executive Council shows that no other productivity investment comes close to coaching in improving reps’ performance and revenue attainment.

Furthermore, investment in sales coaching can also:

 – Harvests more top performers

Midrange sellers can become stellar performers when supported and encouraged by a motivational and informative coach that provides them with the training, technology and input necessary to grow their selling skillset.


– Builds culture of transparency

Effective coaching is a two-way discussion that places the sales rep (and his/her success) at the centre of the conversation. When these channels of conversation are open, there’s a bigger sense of collaboration and accountability amongst team members.


–  Attracts and retains top talent

A sales rep that is supported by high-quality coaching becomes more profitable and successful. A higher department-wide winning rate helps to alleviate the burden on top performers and encourages middle ground sales reps to aim ever higher.



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Sales Coaching That Works

Effective sales coaching that works

What Makes Somebody a Good Sales Coach?

Sales and salespeople are changing. However, most businesses still expect their sales reps to hit their number on their own accord.

Simply allocating a rep a target and then beating them down when they don’t reach it has never really worked…

Which is why, leaders of successful teams have had to become adept at sales coaching, helping their team meet targets by supporting them at every turn of the sales process.

But the role of the sales coach is a little different from that of a sales manager…

Aside from the usual admin side of the business, the top priority of a sales coach is to grow and develop a successful sales team.

They spend 20% to 45% of their time actively coaching each individual, making sure they have the appropriate access to sales enablement, technical support and tactical backing whenever they need it.

Their door is always open and they regularly hold discussions with the team to discover the true health of the pipeline, the quality of the sales team’s selling activities and success rate of the overall sales process.

Most successful sales coaches share these key skills and natural attributes:

  1. They boast a strong business acumen
  2. They’re trusted & respected by their team
  3. They’re fanatical about data
  4. They have strong leadership skills
  5. They have ample experience in the field of sales

Common Sales Coaching Challenges:

  1. Time limitations & span of control:

Effective coaching that actually leads to an improvement in performance and productivity requires a lot of time and attention. In order to coach our team well, we should be observing them on the field, joining calls, analysing their use of the process and data. Sadly, most sales managers simply don’t have the time to do this at scale.

  1. Technology & lack of data:

On top of an obvious time limitation, sales managers also struggle to find the tools and insight necessary to do their job suitably and at scale.

Without clarity on sales reps’ behaviours, it’s very difficult to accurately decipher what needs to be coached. At the same time, this lack of data makes us blind to any possible results.

How can we figure out what impact our coaching sessions are having without appropriate benchmarks?

If organisations are to make the most of coaching, they must commit to investing in the necessary technology.

  1. Absence of experience and training:

Great coaches don’t just happen by coincidence. Turning a good sales manager into an elite sales coach takes hard work, discipline and training.

A study from the Sales Management Association found that companies that spent more than half of their overall training budget on managers rather than salespeople were 15% more likely to hit their revenue goals.

Sales Coaching Best Practices

Good coaching is about guiding, not hand-holding. Getting the balance right could be the difference between a supportive leader who carries his/her team to the next level and a toxic, manipulative manager who demotivates the team.

Here are some useful DOs & DON’Ts to help offer the most useful support:

DON’T MICROMANAGE. The top priority of sales coaching is to help people improve and grow their skills. Not to close the deal for them.

DO PRE-PLAN COACHING SESSIONS. Block out an hour a week/ a month with each individual to privately discuss their workload and any areas they may need support around.

DON’T TRY TO CATCH THEM OUT. It’s not about what they’re doing wrong but about how they can improve on what they’re already doing. Offer support that can in fact help them be more successful and your team will soon be looking forward to your coaching sessions.

DO MAKE A POINT OF JOINING PROSPECT CALLS AND MEETINGS. Only by watching your reps out on the field will you be able to get to know your rep’s selling technique and understand your prospect’s needs.

DON’T BASE YOUR FEEDBACK ON RESULTS ALONE. You will be amazed at how little correlation there can be between a salesperson’s realised quota and the quality of their sales activities. We had the opportunity to map sales behaviour attainment to revenue attainment for one of our customers recently and the results were very surprising…link to UBM

DON’T THINK ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Build an individual growth plan for each of your team members that plays to their advantage – putting their strengths to good use and smoothing out their weaknesses.

The Future of Sales Coaching

As it stands today, sales coaching is flawed by three main challenges:

1.It’s time consuming.

2.It can’t be done at scale.

3.It relies on the openness and honesty of the sales team.

These three obstacles, added to the poor investment sales coaching currently receives from the average business, are preventing organisations from realising bigger business value.

Thankfully, technological advances and access to better data are already working their magic on traditional coaching and training models.

The future takes the shape of ‘guided selling’ and ‘real-time’ coaching, a process that can be automated and scaled through the use of behaviour tracking apps like SuMo.

What does this mean for coaching? It means that we can now easily track the quality of our team’s work, highlighting weaknesses and gaps in training, so we can start having data-driven conversations with our sales folks.

This approach is particularly exciting because it allows itself for personalisation. This ability to match sales behaviour to sales rep can help us build a coaching strategy around specific team members.

An approach that can be automated and delivered in real-time, pushing each individual to follow the best next steps for each instance as they’re taking action.

The leaders of tomorrow’s sales force are data- driven coaches that can illuminate the winning path to personal and professional growth for each and every member of the team.

About SuMo

SuMo increases sales performance by monitoring & coaching the high-value sales behaviours that deliver sales success.

What will SuMo deliver for me?

  • a clean & healthy sales pipeline
  • improved forecast accuracy
  • accelerated sales performance

SuMo is in use by blue-chip organisations globally such as UBM, Vodafone, Roche, SIGG4S,  and Qlik.