Sales Coaching Options 101: How to Get the Most from Every Interaction

December 9, 2015


Based on the book Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach, by Linda Richardson, this is the fifth post in a series that summarizes the key themes of the books and highlights best practices. In the previous post we provided an overview of the focus and discipline that goes into sales coaching. In this post, we outline three main approaches to sales coaching.

Depending on your team make-up and organizational setup, you can call upon one or more of the following coaching approaches:

  • Remote
  • Team calls
  • In-the-action

Remote coaching

When you need to coach sales reps and teams from afar, it can be challenging for both you and your reps. While you may struggle with lack of face-to-face interactions, direct observation and personal contact, your reps may struggle to feel connected, supported and inspired. With that in mind, employ these four suggestions:

  • Review performance metrics. While setting and tracking clear, measurable objectives for your sales reps is critical, it can be tough to effectively do so without face-to-face contact. At the start of at least one remote coaching session per month, quickly review the rep’s performance and then asking for the rep’s perceptions. If your perception of why the rep is not hitting goals differs from the rep’s, focus on coming to agreement and developing a plan to improve.
  • Set clear parameters and guidelines. To reduce the likelihood of your remote sales reps losing motivation or inspiration, it’s important to give them clear boundaries, objectives and parameters when it comes to their authority level. At the same time, continuously reinforce principles such as company values.
  • Build a relationship. Spend face-to-face time with your reps whenever possible. In the absence of that, make it clear you are always available for your reps, and ask them how you can better support them.

The book wraps up the remote coaching tips with this helpful formula:

Spend 5% of time on metrics, 80% of the time coaching

and 5% building the relationship.

It also recommends that email, voicemail and text should mainly be used to communicate positive messages, plan logistics and say thank you or wish the salesperson good luck on an upcoming call.

Team calls

When you’ve involved in calls with your reps and prospects or customers, assume the role of the observer, allowing your sales reps to lead the call. The goal is to see your reps in action. Make sure you and the rep talk before the call to ensure the rep is fully prepared and to agree on an area of development focus to discuss after the customer call.

Ideally your reps will provide you a one-page summary before all their calls (even ones you won’t be on) explaining the customer’s situation, strategy, and need; the status of the relationship with the customer; the objective of the call and the call agenda. Review the questions the rep plans to ask, the objections he or she anticipates from the customer, and what the rep is hoping will happen after the call.

During calls with a prospect or customer, if a question is directed at you, tactfully guide the discussion back to the rep, such as by saying, “What a terrific question. Sarah recently handled this with one of her customers, and she can describe how that worked and the results.”

In-the-action coaching

While it’s essential and smart to plan your coaching, it’s just as important to seize in-the-moment coaching opportunities as they arise. If you see a salesperson going down the wrong path with a deal, ask her to explain what she is doing, share your thoughts, and then come to agreement on how the rep should change course.

Check in soon for the next post in this series, when we will cover effective ways to hold sales meetings and coach your team. In the meantime, sign up for our blog to stay in the know on this and other sales-related topics.