The employment life cycle of every sales rep always starts in the same place — with a set of strong training and onboarding processes that establish a blueprint for these rookies to find success in their time with the company. But the completion of training doesn’t mean that reps have learned everything they’ll ever need to know about sales. Given that selling is an evolving practice, one of your key responsibilities as a sales manager is to periodically coach your agents to keep them up-to-date with the most effective and relevant sales techniques.
However, a number of challenges can prevent timely, efficient and effective coaching. A geographic distance between you and your team members can certainly seem like a hurdle (and is increasingly common in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic). Other obstacles may include outdated coaching materials or a lack of free time on your part.
To ensure reps receive coaching as needed while not forsaking your other management responsibilities, you’ll need a versatile and comprehensive sales coaching platform. In this post, we’ll look at key features of an ideal sales coaching solution.
Training and onboarding tools
Coaching is a follow-up to training and onboarding so it only makes sense that the latter two would be essential to any sales coaching platform.
Reps are first taught the essential tactics of the trade as part of onboarding — effective communication across multiple channels, uncovering a prospect’s needs, building rapport, overcoming objections and so on. They also receive organization-specific instruction regarding proprietary and/or third-party applications the company uses for sales operations and related tasks. While every sales rep is different, these steps should be mostly uniform at the training stage, in the interest of establishing consistency.
All of these matters can and should factor into coaching as well. However, the ways in which they are emphasized during coaching will vary from rep to rep, as every seller will have their own habits and a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. To most effectively cover the bases of training, onboarding and coaching, a platform should include relevant content such as interactive presentations, virtual pitch workshops, infographics, quizzes and more.
Documentation and data reporting
Data is foundational to sales in a number of ways. Consider, for example, the beginning of the process: Reps must sift through information on promising potential customers (such as demographic and geographic details) and prioritize the order in which prospects will be contacted with the help of a lead-scoring system. On the other end of the spectrum, robust data reporting is essential to gauge the definitive return on investment of reps’ sales efforts and the marketing content or other collateral used in the course of deal-making.
The collection, analysis and actionable use of data is also vital to coaching. A sales coaching platform with reliable reporting capabilities can help you compare reps’ performances on coaching exercises to training from the past and see where they’ve excelled, fallen short or plateaued.
Subsequently, you can adjust coaching priorities so that your team members are driven to improve in relevant areas or try new techniques. Also, you’ll be able to review reps’ engagement with coaching as it correlates to concrete sales success. If they do well with training and coaching but aren’t turning their absorbed knowledge into closed deals, that’s a disconnect you must quickly address.
Reps who have completed their training, actually made sales and saw success will likely feel emboldened as a result. This isn’t always a bad thing, but can sometimes stray into overconfidence. That sensation may lead to some resistance to being coached. If your sales coaching platform allows for coaching plans to be customized according to individual reps’ specific needs, team members are much less likely to think of coaching as a remedial exercise and will instead view it as a tool to help sales agents help themselves.
Collaboration is extremely important in sales. You can reasonably argue that it’s the most collaborative of the core business processes (the others being lead generation, marketing, production and customer service/account management). So, any application used for coaching should be easily integrated with the tools essential to complementary operations. Examples can include customer relationship management software, scheduling tools, conferencing solutions and marketing content creation systems. From a coaching perspective, the key here is to ensure reps can easily access content and data that’s relevant to the sales skills they need to improve upon.
The likelihood that the sales team you manage remains exactly the same in terms of its size and scope of operations is rather low. It’s almost guaranteed to expand or shrink at various times, corresponding to the needs of your organization.
As this occurs, it’s important to scale sales enablement efforts — including coaching — so that they match the size and priorities of your team. The platform you use for coaching must be easily adaptable to the department’s growth and contraction. Features including automation, content storage and distribution, remote accessibility and analytics should all serve in the interest of flexibility and scalability.
The Showpad Coach sales enablement platform addresses all of these points (and many more) so that coaching efforts are always perfectly suited to your team and each of its reps. It can be the ideal coaching solution to take your sales operation to the next level.