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Sales Coaching Done Right

Guest post by Mike Galvin

We so often hear that 80% of what we learn in a sales training session is lost in 90 days if not reinforced. The statistics may vary slightly but the point is the same. As sales trainers and managers we must continually impress upon our sales reps the use of what they’ve learned in a training session in order to reinforce key behaviors that lead to more deals closed and ultimately a better bottom line for the organization. Sales coaching, when done properly, is a perfect way to reinforce. Most of us are familiar with the term sales coaching but all too often it is thought of as a pipeline/funnel inspection.

To ensure that we are all on the same page I’ll provide a definition of sales coaching. Having worked at the American Society for Training & Development for two-and-a-half years, I’m very familiar with their Sales Coaching for Business Impact certificate program. A key tenet is that sales coaching must bring out the best in each sales rep and tie that improvement directly to revenue generation. The key to doing this it to “draw out” (the best in your player) and not “put in.” What exactly does this mean? Frequently, sales managers, when speaking with one of their reps about a particular sales opportunity, think, “When I was a rep, I did X then Y and ended up closing the deal,” and thus tell the rep, “do it this way.” This is a “putting in” scenario. The manager is not looking at the rep’s strengths and determining a way to “draw out” their best to close the sale leading to frustration for both the manager and rep and sometimes a lost deal.

So how do we overcome this? First, we must identify and groom certain sales reps who display the right skills and abilities to become sales managers. One of those skills is the ability to recognize how to coach others to their own potential. (Observed behaviors or a competency assessment could help here but I’ll save that topic for another time.) Secondly, we must give the sales managers the “space” to coach. Far too often when the end of the month/quarter/year comes, the pressure to hit quota causes coaching to be dropped. How ironic that when leadership is pushed to hit their numbers, one activity that drives revenue when properly performed—sales coaching—is pushed aside because it gets in the way. No wonder sales coaching is ignored or at best, done incorrectly!

I’ll leave you with a question. What does sales coaching look like at your organization?

About Mike

Mike Galvin is currently enjoying some R&R with his family while searching for his next opportunity in sales consulting, sales training, or business development.

He was previously ASTD’s Sales Enablement Community of Practice Manager. In this role he oversaw the development of solutions, resources, and content that help sales organizations become world-class. Prior to joining ASTD, Mike enjoyed a progressive 15-year sales career with roles such as sales manager, sales operations director, and sales training program manager. Mike has coached and mentored many sales professionals, and developed and implemented industry-leading sales improvement initiatives.

Mike received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Shenandoah University where he graduated with honors. Formerly the president of Shenandoah’s Business Alumni Club, Mike currently serves as 2nd VP on their Alumni Board of Directors.

Here is Mike’s LinkedIn profile.