August 15, 2018
Updated: October 22, 2020

What is a Sales Coaching Culture?

When you hear about an organization’s culture, it generally refers to the benefits employees get while working there, like catered lunches, team happy hours, work-from-home days, and so on. In fact, the word “culture” has become something of a buzz word in the business world and a way for companies to attract top talent. However, there is another type of culture that is more effective at retaining employees in the long term and ensuring they continue to learn and grow with your organization — something known as a coaching culture.

A coaching culture is not just an added perk for your employees; it is essential to help them advance professionally and perform at their best. For your sales team, consistent coaching and regular feedback makes all the difference in their overall attitude and performance.

Definition of Coaching Culture

What does a culture of coaching actually entail? A coaching culture is a strategic, formal system that involves ongoing teaching by internal leaders. The idea behind it is simple: you can’t expect the people on your sales team to do everything right unless you teach them and provide guidance. Often, sales managers spend the majority of their time with either the lowest performing reps because they have the most to learn, or the top performers because it’s fun to share in their successes. By implementing a coaching culture into your sales team, managers’ time will be equally allocated across their entire team, so no one is left behind. A study by CSO Insights revealed that sales organizations with an established culture of coaching had a 30 percent higher win rate; yet, only 26 percent of companies have a formal coaching program, according to The Business Journals. With so few companies leveraging this approach, why should you consider it at your organization?

Benefits to Incorporating a Coaching Culture

Not only does instilling the value of coaching within your sales team allow everyone to get equal time with management, but it provides you, your sales managers and your reps with various additional benefits.

Empower sales leaders

Coaching and managing are two different things, and providing coaching training for managers allows them to understand what is expected of them, feel secure in their responsibilities and ultimately encourage and guide those on their team. According to a study from Bersin & Associates, organizations are 130% more likely to achieve stronger business results when they prepare sales managers for coaching. Give sales managers the responsibility of coaching their teams and hold them accountable for the success of their team to legitimize their role.

Boost morale and productivity

What comes to mind when you think of a coach? Someone who leads effectively, gets to know every member of their team in order to provide the best direction, and encourages and motivates the people they lead. The same characteristics are true of a good sales coach. They need to not only help their teams grow and learn, but also pump them up to feel like they are valued in the organization and in turn perform at their best. A good coach thrives off of the success of his or her team. Have your managers create individual targets for each rep, provide timely, accurate, personalized and relevant feedback, and recognize achievements on both individual and group levels.

Encourage use of best practices and improve performance

Effective sales coaching will include reviewing products and services and ensuring that each sales rep knows what — and what not — to say about them. Your sales team should know the benefits, shortcomings, and competitive advantage of everything your organization offers to its clients. This way, they will be able to comfortably acknowledge any client apprehension and know how to respond. By coaching reps to leverage best practices, you strengthen their pitches and ensure a consistent overall message. Sales managers must observe each individual member of their team to ensure they are leveraging what they’ve learned. Reps who are having success can share their strategy, and those who are struggling can correct any problematic areas before they become serious.

Cultivate better client relationships, resulting in more sales and revenue

When your sales reps are happier, more productive and leverage best practices, they have more confidence to take risks and perform better as a result. That confidence allows them to form stronger relationships with existing and potential clients who will in turn view your organization as a trusted partner. A boost in trust means a higher likelihood for salespeople to upsell and close more deals, resulting in added business and revenue. An integral part of your coaching approach should be researching your customer base to establish rapport and build trust with prospects.

Retain sales reps

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “if this salesperson doesn’t work out, big deal, we will just find someone else to replace them.” However, it costs far less to retain employees than it is to hire new ones, and not just in terms of finances. Think of the time and energy you spend to get a new sales rep onboarded and comfortable with their role. When a salesperson is successful, they tend to feel more content with their role, and therefore will stay with the organization longer, saving you time and money. Professional development gained through coaching motivates people to stay in their current organization. In fact, nine out of 10 employees said professional development is either “important” or “very important,” in a study done by Better Buys.

You want to create a sales culture that draws people to your organization and keeps them there. However, what employees get most out of a job is not the frivolous perks, but rather the learning and professional growth that occurs through ongoing feedback and coaching. The Bersin & Associates study reported organizations that effectively prepare managers to coach have 39% stronger employee results through engagement, productivity and customer service. Start evolving your sales organization into a coaching culture by holding your managers accountable and having them provide individualized feedback, and encourage and reward the use of best practices. As a result, every rep on your sales team will form more meaningful relationships with customers and will be more inclined to stay with your organization.

Stay tuned for more about how you can effectively implement a coaching culture for your sales team.