How to run proactive sales coaching sessions

Do you only administer sales coaching on an ad hoc basis, when you overhear a poor discovery call or watch a rep struggle with a deal?

How to run proactive sales coaching sessionsIf so, you have a problem. The most effective sales coaching is proactive, consistent and data-driven. Let’s be clear: When a rep struggles or requests help, impromptu coaching sessions are a good tool. But arbitrary, undocumented sales coaching based on subjective observations won’t improve sales performance, and there’s data to prove it.

That’s why sales leaders must establish regular sales coaching sessions based on objective data. We created four easy steps to help do just that.

4 steps to create a consistent sales coaching cadence

1. Map out your sales process.

Before you can coach reps effectively, you need to clearly define the most important sales activities for your team. Start with the stages of your sales process. How are yours defined? For an inside sales team, they might look something like this:

  • Stage 1: Opportunity Created
  • Stage 2: Discovery Scheduled
  • Stage 3: Discovery Complete
  • Stage 4: Proposal Sent
  • Stage 5: Closed Won

Determine which selling activities move opportunities from one stage to the next. For the example above, those could be calls, conversations, meetings and proposals sent. But a field sales team might identify opportunities discovered, VP-level conversations, face-to-face meetings and proposals sent as their key activities. Use step one of the activity-based selling methodology to define your key sales activities, then calculate how much of each you need to achieve quota.

2. Create personalized scorecards for reps.

Discuss your activity metrics with your team, and provide reps with individual sales scorecards. Explain that scorecards help track and manage activities against goals. Be open to feedback. Some reps might prefer tracking with spreadsheets over text documents.

Whatever method you choose, make sure the process is easy. Reps won’t participate if the task takes too much time away from selling. A sales activity management system automates tracking and calculates pacing, allowing users to strategically manage their time around their most important activities.

3. Establish a regular agenda.

Set up 30-minute meetings with each of your reps every week (or 60-minute meetings every other week). This cadence is sacred. If you can’t make a meeting, reschedule it. Not prioritizing this time communicates to your reps that you aren’t invested in their professional development.

Topics covered in each coaching session must also be consistent. Don’t let one-on-ones turn into mere pipeline reviews. Examine activity data, key deals, pipeline velocity and where reps need help. Use this sales coaching checklist to cover the five most important topics in each meeting.

4. Share expectations for reps.

As with any new process, be transparent with reps throughout development and roll-out. Ask for feedback. Share guidelines and expectations with reps. If you want them to show up to each coaching session with discussion topics in mind, let them know. Emphasize that sales coaching is an iterative process, and that adjustments will be made accordingly.

Finally, make sure that reps understand sales coaching is for their benefit. Becoming a better seller not only impacts their current commission, but also their future career.

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