What is Sales Coaching? A Brief Introduction

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Simon Dethridge from BIG Consulting joined me today to talk about “Coaching” in our podcast series “Sales Process Execution – The Best Bits”.

Simon provided a persuasive case for the importance of coaching in ensuring your sales team can consistently execute your sales process to deliver superior performance. 

Simon’s experience spans FMCG to B2B sales and he believes that coaching is crucial for all sales teams regardless of deal size, sales cycle length or product category.

Watch the discussion here for a more in depth view of the key points summarised below.

Why is coaching important to sales process execution

Coaching is the number one driver of sales performance according to CSO Insights – the research arm of Miller Heiman.

Furthermore, the 70:20:10 rule which was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership, proposes that on average, 70% of a person’s learning at work is internal and experience-based, 20% comes from interacting with fellow employees and 10% is the result of formal training. It is this 20% compartment where coaching can play a massive role in developing capability and by extension, sales performance.

As a salesperson, you can’t learn how to execute the sales process from just the time allocated to formal training alone – no matter how awesome your sales onboarding and training program is.

Naturally, coaching directly impacts the 20% in the 70:20:10 rule and significantly influences how salespeople learn from experience based activity and quality feedback from their coach.

A coaching culture breeds an environment of excellence and continuous improvement because feedback is delivered and sought every day.

Good coaching is not an accident

The best sales organisations are very purposeful in how they develop a management team that is effective at coaching for performance.

The best companies see coaching as more than just spending time in the field. They identify and detail “what good” and “what great” performance looks like, in order to provide calibrated feedback with precision.

The best companies treat coaching as a “big rock” – making it a priority activity

– They make it a key result area in their OKRs. And they assign measurable KPIs against these.

– They train their managers in how to coach effectively

– They actively balance formal and informal coaching

– They tie coaching to performance management and the supporting measurement 

– They have a coaching cadence which means there are clear targets for the frequency of coaching sessions between each manager and their team members

– They feature coaching as a key value add in their recruitment and onboarding processes

This is what effective coaches do

  • Effective sales managers coach in the methods and disciplines of high performance.
  • They see it as helping people to learn, not teaching them. 
  • They coach in Functional competencies and Core competencies
  • They train their managers to adopt a “questioning” rather than a telling style to get salespeople to think, to become self aware and to help them arrive at the answer to good behavioural choices.
  • They encourage the coachee to provide feedback to the coach
  • They use objective or evidence based examples to provide feedback, rather than the relying on a manager’s subjective opinion that could be biased

Sales organisations should deliberately build a coaching culture

The key areas to focus on are

  • – Senior management commitment is the #1 critical success factor
  • – Job Descriptions that free managers to get off the “management balcony” and “out onto the dance floor” with their people
  • – Measure the frequency and quality of coaching
  • – Train their sales management team to be great coaches

If you do most of the above you are on the road to developing a coaching culture because it is central, regular, supported and strategic.

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