The world’s best athletes train year-round to hit their numbers and reach their goals. Throughout their journey, they’re coached and given opportunities to improve their craft. The same is true for the best sellers. Sales training and coaching are key pillars of a comprehensive sales enablement solution, so it’s important to understand the difference between the two and why they work so well together
Sales training and coaching can benefit your organization in a number of ways, most importantly: they help ensure that your sales reps hit their number.
No matter where your organization is on its enablement journey, sales training and sales coaching are a resource to continuously improve your sales activities. In this post, we’ll define sales training and coaching, as well as the how’s and why’s of implementing best practices.
Let’s get started!
What is sales training?
While related, sales training is slightly different from coaching. Sales training ensures that every seller in your sales force has the skills they need to contribute to the team and grow their career. Training educates your sellers on the techniques they need to be most successful when selling your company’s products, services, or solutions.
What is sales coaching?
Every sales organization has a goal or quota. To reach these numbers, sales leaders have the experience and knowledge to encourage, empower, and enable their teams with the practice, guidance, feedback, and tools to succeed in their engagements with buyers.
Sales coaching enables every sales rep to meet their goal, as well as those of the greater sales organization. To be effective, sales coaching needs to be continuous and customized in a way that it focuses on skills and reinforces great sales behavior.
What is the difference between sales training and sales coaching?
On the surface, sales training and coaching can sound like the same thing. They’re peas in a pod—maybe even cousins! In short, they’re related.
To differentiate, it’s most simple to view training as the foundation upon which everything is built. Your sellers can’t sell until they have the training to do so. In effect, training is the activities an organization uses to ensure that its sellers understand the basics of how to sell a product.
If you build another layer on top of training, you get coaching. Sales coaching includes continuous activities or lessons that are customized to focus on specific skills and reinforce great sales behavior.
So, to make matters simple: sales training gives sales reps a baseline understanding of how to sell a product, whereas sales coaching offers sellers an ongoing opportunity to improve their skills and reach their goals.
Why are sales training and sales coaching so important?
At almost every organization, sales is responsible for generating revenue. And sales is becoming more difficult as the buyer’s journey evolves.
As organizations transitioned to digital-first sales, everything changed. Buyer preferences changed, buyer engagement changed, and suddenly, everything went online.
How were sales organizations able to pivot quickly to adapt to these changes? Sales training and coaching! Enablement leaders embraced sales training and coaching solutions to ensure that their sellers had the skills to sell in a digital environment, and coaching programs to practice how to pitch, cold call, or simply improve.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks: sales reps who receive dedicated sales coaching see 16.7% higher revenue growth over teams who don’t receive sales performance coaching. It’s safe to assume that sales reps are happier when they hit their numbers and, as a result, feel fulfilled in their roles.
Successful sales reps lift up the team around them. When sellers win more deals, it’s clear that they’re doing something right. Their best practices can be shared across the sales organization. Consistent sales coaching ensures that these winning tactics find their way to every seller in the organization.
Sales training and coaching are better together because consistent sales coaching enables better training. Remember, sales training is about giving your sellers the skills they need to grow and advance in their careers. And with that growth comes more confidence. Confident sellers are better positioned to win more deals and contribute to your business’ bottom line.
How do organizations use sales coaching and training?
There are a number of ways organizations can use sales training and coaching to enable their sales organization. In order to be successful, every seller needs to know industry specifics, key data, product details, value propositions, and more.
Consistent training and coaching programs ensure that sellers develop these skills before they start selling. Many organizations use their programs to develop skills across the following areas:
Sales calls: Conversations with customers and prospects are a seller’s bread and butter. Before sellers can close a deal, they first need to be effective in their calls with buyers. Sales coaching gives sellers an environment where they can practice “mock conversations” with specific buying scenarios. This gives sellers an opportunity to explore buyer needs by use case and develop talking points to navigate real-world situations.
New product messaging: Before organizations go to market with new products, sellers need to understand what they’re selling and how to do so effectively. When combined with sales call coaching, training educates sellers on the product and allows them to test their knowledge based on what they’ve just learned. Once they’ve built confidence with a new offering, they can test it against a practice call or a simulated customer email.
Pipeline generation: Winning new business begins with identifying new opportunities. Sales training educates sellers on the market, use cases, and pain points they can research in order to find new prospects.
These are just a few ways that your organization can implement sales training and coaching programs. Successful programs identify best practices and scale what works.
What are some best practices?
How do enablement leaders know what is and isn’t working? Data is their best friend. Data tells the story of who’s completing lessons and coaching sessions, how well they performed, and whether it translates into new opportunities and new business.
If training and coaching activities aren’t contributing to a successful pursuit of business objectives, enablement leaders can identify potential gaps and optimize the program to achieve their goals.
It’s also important to understand that everyone learns differently. Data can be used to tell a story of how different people respond or perform under specific training models and coaching styles. By identifying these differences, leaders can find new and creative ways to engage and elevate performance across a diverse sales organization.
Giving your sellers a chance to practice together strengthens the whole team. Every seller has their own strengths and areas of opportunity—peer-to-peer opportunities are a transfer of best practices that help sellers develop new tools.
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