Sales Coaching Tips to Level Up Your Sales Team

Sujan Patel is the founder of Mailshake, a sales engagement software used by 38,000 sales and marketing professionals. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.
  • July 21, 2021

Managing and leading salespeople to perform well is a big challenge. But what if almost all of your sales reps hit their numbers consistently? Research from CSO Insights shows that 94% of reps meet their quotas with great sales coaching. In this article, we will discuss what sales coaching is and how to apply it for excellent sales results in your company.

Let’s get started!

What is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching is the process of helping sales reps improve their skills, confidence, and goals — such as individual or team quotas. Executives and sales managers often invest in sales coaching to maximize sales performance across their entire team. This has a residual effect on the organization as a whole.

The type of sales coaching available varies depending on the needs of the sales team. It can be done in person, over the phone, or via video conference. Sales coaches can work with reps one on one, or with entire groups at the same time depending on the exercises and topics covered.

Why is Sales Coaching Important?

A sales manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure their reps are continually improving. In order to do this, the manager must provide them with the right skills and tools. That means that sales coaching is essential. It helps reps get better via repetition, practice, feedback, and exposure to new sales frameworks.

Furthermore, sales managers can use feedback during coaching to identify areas of the sales process that need improvement. According to Spotio, great sales coaching can boost your sales team’s win rate by 29% — meaning it can add a major boost to your bottom line.

Examples of Sales Coaching

In order to have a better grasp of what sales coaching is, here are some specific examples:

  • Listening in on a sales rep’s call and then talking about what went well, as well as areas for improvement
  • Holding weekly meetings or checkups with reps where they can reflect on their production, their objections, and the parts of their sales process they want to work on
  • Reviewing a rep’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) activity such as call volume and note taking to identify process enhancements
  • Evaluating a sales rep’s email outreach and conversations with potential buyers to see how they are guiding their prospect through the buying journey
  • Live roleplay in which the reps practice their scripts and their responses to common prospect objections they hear

Common Sales Coaching Challenges

Sales coaching is an excellent investment in your team. However, it is not easy to do at a high level. That’s why sales managers should be aware of common challenges and pitfalls to overcome, such as:

  • Sales managers often get lost in the details instead of looking at the bigger picture
  • It is human nature to “tell” rather than “ask”
  • Sales reps can be defensive against criticism, by nature
  • Managers often don’t have clear idea of what good sales coaching entails
  • Sales managers may give advice that lacks specific takeaways
  • Sales reps must learn new skills while maintaining their authenticity — not an easy feat

What Makes a Great Sales Coach?

Sales coaching is an art form. To be great, a sales coach must be authoritative and insistent enough to evoke behavior change in their team. On the other hand, sales reps must feel that they can open up to the sales coach and discuss their weaknesses transparently.

But don’t worry, even if this dual-role does not come naturally, it can be learned just like sales. Therefore, you must “train the trainers” first and foremost. Sandler Training’s Head of Global Strategy and Growth, Damon Jones, suggests that an effective sales coaching program should “develop and certify coaches before they engage with reps.”

Here are other factors that make a great sales coach:

Track Performance Metrics

If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage or improve it. So, it is vital to track all sales metrics before, during, and after coaching your sales reps. It will help you evaluate the sales coach’s performance as well as the reps’ commitment to improvement. Some of the metrics you should track include:

  • How many reps are meeting or exceeding their sales targets
  • Average deal size and profitability
  • Individual retention rate and service renewal rate for each rep
  • Average upsell amount and frequency for each rep
  • Change in closing ratios

Learn What Drives Each Salesperson

One size does not fit all when it comes to sales coaching. Not every rep will respond to the same motivation triggers. Sure, most sales reps will be money motivated. But that does not mean that their specific income goals are the same. Someone may be focused on family expenses, while another person wants to pay off student loans.

To truly motivate your sales team, you need to uncover their core drives. In order to do that, you can ask effective questions like:

  • Are you satisfied right now?
  • What things do you want to do, have, or be in the future?
  • What is your long term motivation?
  • How can management tell when you’re not motivated?
  • How can I help you if it seems you’re not motivated?

Focus on Providing Positive Feedback Instead of Negative Feedback

Studies show that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative feedback. Aim to give three times as much positive feedback than negative, for this reason. Additionally, it helps morale, which is incredibly important in sales.

Think of it this way: salespeople deal with rejection and negativity all day long. It is hard enough to maintain motivation and positivity in this environment. So as a sales coach, you need to be a source of inspiration and encouragement. By focusing on the good things your reps are doing, they will cement good habits in their minds to add to their performance long term.

Coach Both Poor Performers and High Performers

There is a misconception that the only people who need coaching are the poor performers. After all, high performers are naturally skilled and motivated, right? Well, it turns out that sales is a largely learned skill. Some people may have a head start in terms of a “knack” for selling, but they still need coaching.

Even if someone is exceeding their sales objectives every quarter, there is always room for improvement. If you like the way your best salespeople are performing now, you’ll absolutely love their new production numbers with consistent coaching.

Understand that Coaching and Managing are Different

Sales coaching and sales management are similar in some ways. In both contexts, you are responsible for getting better results out of your team. However, in practice, they can be very different roles with unique approaches to helping your reps.

If you are tasked with performing both of these roles, it’s best to separate them. Feel free to dive into reviews of phone calls with reps when you’re in coaching mode. When you put your sales manager hat back on, schedule time for things like career development, territory assignments, and overall performance metrics.

Use Technology to Support Coaching

In the 21st century, technology is an integral part of any company’s sales process. Not only should you leverage technology for interacting with and selling to customers, but internally with your team as well.

For instance, you can use platforms like Gong to gain insights into your sales performance from data-driven metrics. And video platforms can be used to distribute sales coaching and training to reps even if they are not located at your main office. By taking advantage of technology, you can speed up your sales process, coaching, and overall timeline to achieve key objectives.


As a sales manager, there are a lot of things on your plate. But one of the priorities that should always come first is coaching your team. Whether you do it yourself or hire an outside sales coach, it can boost motivation, productivity, and ultimate sales revenue. That way, your business continues to win new deals and grow faster than the competition.

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