4 Avoidable Obstacles to Sales Coaching

by Jun 24, 2017Solution Selling

Obstacles to Sales Coaching

Solution selling training experts know that sales coaching is often the one sales investment that can have the greatest impact on overall sales success.  Sales coaching is valued as a means to improve solution selling skills but, even more importantly, as a means to directly and positively affect individual sales performance.  In fact, in a recent survey that measured the impact of a wide range of initiatives on sales effectiveness, sales coaching was the activity rated as having a greater impact than sales training on its own, sales compensation, or enabling sales technology.

Our own sales training measurement research confirms that consistent and frequent sales coaching can improve performance 4-to-1 in terms of quota attainment. We also found that without sales coaching, reinforcement, and accountability, only 1-in-5 solution selling training participants will change their behavior or performance back on the job.

So What’s the Problem?  Why Isn’t Sales Coaching More Prevalent?

We believe the problem is in the incomplete implementation of sales coaching. Despite general executive support, many sales coaching efforts fall short. So even if you may have deployed a quality solution selling training program, without effective follow-on sales coaching, the new consultative selling skills will be unevenly applied, if they are applied at all.

The Top 4 Avoidable Obstacles to Sales Coaching

If you truly want to reap the benefits of a robust, effective sales training and coaching initiative, make sure you overcome the following obstacles that have sabotaged many a well-intentioned sales coaching program:

#1.  Lack of Specific Goals for Coaching
Your sales coaching program (just as any development program you undertake) must have a clear purpose in terms of measurable and relevant business outcomes. The goals need to be specific and aligned with the overall corporate and sales strategies. Just “increasing sales” is too general. Perhaps the sales strategy includes adding 3 new clients per month. Then coaching goals should focus on how to reach and build a relationship with untapped and targeted prospects.

#2.  Managers Who Lack the Training, Time and Accountability to Coach
You may have great sales managers who know how to build and run a sales team. But that leadership skill does not necessarily translate into sales coaching skills. Give your sales managers the sales coaching training they need to learn how to observe performance, give meaningful and timely feedback, and encourage the desired sales behaviors that matter most. Then make sure you set up a system that values the time they set aside to coach and hold them accountable for results.

If you expect your sales managers to be a “player-coach,” treat them accordingly.

#3.  A Reactive Approach to Sales Coaching
Sales coaching should not be applied only when things go wrong, when there is a particular opportunity, when reps are performing poorly, or when requested. It should be an ongoing part of a sales team’s approach to career and talent development. The focus needs to be on long-term learning and continuous performance improvement.

#4.  Insufficient Sales Coaching Frequency
It’s hard to over-do effective sales coaching. We know that high-performing companies provide 15 to 20% more coaching than lower performing It seems that, to really gain a boost from sales coaching, more frequent one-on-one sessions make the difference.

The Bottom Line
Do not sabotage sales coaching.  Avoid these common sales coaching obstacles at all costs.  Sales coaching can have a measurably positive impact on your business if you are clear on what it can accomplish, prepare managers for coaching success, invest for the long-term and plan a sufficient number of sessions to ensure effective learning and application.

To learn more about how to be an effective sales coach and avoid obstacles to sales coaching, download The Truth About Sales Coaching’s Biggest Mistakes

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