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10 Hallmarks of Great Sales Training and Sales Coaching
Blog / Sales Management / Nov 18, 2014 / Posted by John E. Flannery /

10 Hallmarks of Great Sales Training and Sales Coaching

People often ask us the difference between sales training and sales coaching. Both are critical to the success of any sales organization, but they are not one and the same. They are distinct interactions that must each be accounted for independently within your sales planning.

Training is a single event that is focused on new skill acquisition. Training sessions are designed to provide your reps with the opportunity to gain key skills needed to successfully execute the sales process, qualify opportunities and close business.

Training can be led internally or by an outside consultant. Either way, the following are hallmarks of great training that every organization should take into account before embarking on their own program.

  1. Training is not talking.  Many sales leaders conduct training sessions by presenting to their sales teams. While sharing information is part of training, it should not be the only mode of communication. You will quickly lose your sales reps without two-way interaction.

  2. Learning relies on self-discovery. People are most convinced by ideas that they themselves conceive. In order for real learning to take place, sales reps must be a part of the discovery process.

  3. Practice, practice, practice. Training is about teaching new skills and behaviors, and in order to master them, sales reps need a safe environment in which to practice and receive feedback on what they’re learning.

  4. Training shouldn’t be theoretical. Training should be specific and applicable – sales reps must be able to put their new skills into practice right away in order to drive better sales results.

  5. Training without process is pointless. In order for training to be effective, companies must first have a defined sales process. Training is the acquisition of the skills necessary to execute that process and drive sustainable, repeatable sales growth.

Now that we have an understanding of what makes great sales training, let’s move on to sales coaching. Unlike training, which is a single event focused on new skill acquisition, coaching is a series of ongoing events focused on continuous skill refinement and improvement.

Great sales managers must also be great sales coaches. It’s critical. Without regular, ongoing coaching, sales processes are not applied, sales trainings short-lived, and sales rep performance falls short.

So, what makes a great sales coach? There are many things – we’ll share a few:

  1. Respect your team. In order to really hear and receive your coaching, reps must first like and respect you as a person and a leader. Without that foundation, your coaching will fall on deaf ears. What are you doing to ensure you have a solid relationship with your team members.

  2. Focus your message. We could have said “tailored” or “personalized”, but these words often get overused. So, we’ll use “focus” instead. What does it mean? Simply that great coaches narrow their feedback to development areas specific to each individual. Where do they most need to grow? What techniques can they use to drive the sale forward? (hint: great coaches spend more time coaching at the beginning of the sale cycle than at the end).

  3. Ask questions. Great sales coaches understand the power of self-discovery. As a coach, often the best way to teach your reps a certain skill is to ask targeted but open-ended questions to get them to arrive at the answer on their own terms.

  4. Don’t be afraid to push. Sales reps are often asked to do things that are outside their comfort zone – like go out and get new business or ask tough questions to fully qualify an opportunity. As a sales coach, do you encourage them to stretch themselves in order to improve? Do you provide a safe environment to nurture that growth?

  5. Believe in your people. Last but not least, you must believe in the potential of your sales reps to meet and/or beat their sales goals. Without this genuine belief, your reps will lack the confidence they’ll need to practice and try and build and grow.

In summary, sales coaching and sales training are not the same, but each plays an important role in revenue achievement. We hope our tips on creating great training and coaching opportunities for your sales reps will find their way into your sales organization. We know results will follow.

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About Author

John E. Flannery is President of Flannery Sales Systems. 31 years of sales, sales management, and business ownership experience, comprehensive understanding of how sales organizations should run. John works with customers to develop revenue generation programs based around their sales process.

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