5 Keys Elements to Becoming a World-Class Sales Coach

The best sales leaders share common practices. This post details five of those practices—processes that separate world class leaders from everyone else.  Each element stands on its own, but taken together, they are powerful instruments of change and implementing them will help any leader be more relevant to their reps and more successful in their career.

1.  Dollarize the Value of “Next Level” Performance

A clear vision of the future is necessary to motivate a sales rep to improve. Help each member of a team identify what a change in their process is worth to them. Answer the “So What” questions for each rep so they can have the insight they need to make coaching commitments. If a rep understands what effect every change in activity and skills means to their wallet, they are much more likely to make those changes and champion the process to their peers. What can you do to dollarize improvement?

  • Model the impact of changes in terms of % growth and $ growth.
  • Predict short- and long-term performance improvements. Having short- and long-term goals will ensure consistent improvement.
  • Create a pathway to each salesperson’s idea of success. Use “what if” scenarios to help reps see what differences proposed changes will make.

2. Model “Awesomeness”

Prioritize the topic of coaching conversations by reaching an understanding of the rep’s and the leader’s definition of what success looks like.  Trace each goal to its basic parts: # of starts, starts in $ and velocity. Knowing those numbers lets you derive the activities necessary to achieve satisfactory results. How do you convey expectations for what is awesome?

  • Connect to any rep’s definition of “awesome performance.”
  • Identify if a rep is working hard enough or is focused on the right activities.
  • Pinpoint areas of key competency to change.
  • Drive discussion around what it takes for an individual to achieve their goals.
  • Explain overall goals in terms of individual achievement.

3. Measure Coachability

Knowing how coachable a rep is will help you know how much time and effort to devote to them. Reps with high coachability will make the most of your coaching, while those with low coachability shouldn’t merit as much of your time. If Process predicts Outcomes, then Coachability predicts Process. Knowing that lets you become predictive and accurate in your forecasts. How do you measure coachability? 

  • Identify each rep’s willingness to change.
  • Predict changes to Sales Process at the individual level and see the impact to wins and losses.
  • Identify the impact each sales leader has on the performance of their team. 

By combining the process and coachability insights, a leader can determine the Skill/Will balance for each rep. This helps you: 

  • Determine the amount of time to spend with each rep.
  • Know which types of coaching goals to set with each rep.
  • Maximize your coaching time with reps that value coaching input.

4. Coach to Process

Great coaches don’t coach for deal outcomes. World-Class coaches coach to the process.

If process is strong, success is inevitable. If process is weak, success is unsustainable. Map each rep’s and each team’s strength to your sales process. Coaching to process:

  • Creates custom pipeline, deal flow, and sales velocity insights.
  • Predicts IF and WHEN a rep or team will hit goal.
  • Identifies strength and weakness in most important predictors of performance.

5. Be Consistent

The #1 reason sales coaching initiatives fail is lack of consistency. Build consistency in the frequency and focus of coaching. 

  • Automate your coaching calendar. Use a system that will remind both you and the rep of upcoming coaching sessions. Send email reminders
  • Ensure no reps “slip through the cracks.” Make sure every coachable rep gets your attention.
  • Find the ideal frequency of coaching for each team. Twice-a-month is good. Once-a- week is better.
  • Create a cadence of intentional improvement. Reps will start to associate positive movement with monthly and quarterly goal achievement.
  • Never skip a scheduled coaching session. This sends a message about how much you truly value coaching. 

Recent studies by Sales & Marketing Management Magazine show that the highest performing organizations have 18% more coaching activity than average-performing companies do. 

Leaders and reps should create a consistent approach to coaching so every rep benefits—not just the low performers or those with the best relationship with their leaders. To build the strongest team, every rep should have equal access to coaching.  The real potential lies in individual instruction—a collaborative effort where the goals set are in the rep’s best interest as well as the company’s.

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