How Is Sales Coaching Different From Sales Training?

Posted August 29, 2018

With the economy surging and many sales representatives gainfully employed as a result, good, experienced sales reps are at a premium.

Consequently, companies have been increasingly working with reps who have far less experience, and even hiring reps straight out of college. This lack of expertise in the labor market and the need for getting reps in place has put a renewed emphasis on sales coaching.

The result is an industry-wide increase in coaching as a way to leverage inexperienced reps and possibly get a leg up on competitors.

Coaching vs. Training

Simply put, sales training is a session or series of sessions that provide fundamental principles and techniques to trainees. On the other hand, sales coaching is an ongoing program between reps and supervisors that involves regular feedback and incremental steps toward improvement. The scale of coaching can range from occasional check-ins to side-by-side mentoring.

Sales training often has reps going through weeks or even months of learning material. Unfortunately, most businesses can't wait that long to find out if unexperienced reps will be successful. On the other hand, coaching concentrates on incremental advancements over time. The idea is that a step-by-step approach is better than trying to stuff a lot of knowledge into a relatively small timeframe, which can be quickly forgotten or lost on trainees.

Sales coaching has also grown more useful as businesses rediscover the significance of communication skills, which are also taught through coaching. Specifically, the lack of phone abilities among millennials is a well-documented development that is particularly evident in business-to-business sales, as phone conversations, where the rep and customer rarely meet in person, are still crucial to closing large B2B deals.

To be successful, coaching should include five basic principles: Greater visibility of performance metrics, communications monitoring, real-time feedback, clear objectives and tracking performance increases over time.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Coaching

Just putting a coaching program in place is no longer enough. In our data-obsessed world, it's more important than ever to be able to track the effectiveness of a coaching program through useful metrics.

The proliferation of sales coaching software has only made tracking metrics easier than ever. Tracking the effectiveness of coaching programs actually measures three different things - the effectiveness of the program itself, the success of coached sales reps, and the effectiveness of managers who do the coaching. This allows managers to see if the overall program needs changing or one manager is a more effective coach than another manager. If the program is sound and managers are performing well, tracking the effectiveness of coaching can reveal individual sales reps who aren't making full use of the system.

At Ambassador Personnel, we support all our clients' efforts to address their talent needs, from sourcing the talent to providing support as employees gain the skills they need to achieve organizational goals. If your company is currently looking to address its sales talent needs, please contact our full-service staffing firm today to find out how we can be of assistance.