If you missed our webinar last Friday, fear not! We've got the recording and brief outline of all the best practices to become the expert coach your team is looking for.

Here in 2019, performance reviews still exist despite a mountain of research that shows there is absolutely a better way. Recent data in a high-impact performance management study published on Josh Bersin's website revealed that although performance reviews are essentially “universally despised” (with a net promoter score of -60!), 96% of companies continue to do them.

If you're one of the growing numbers of leaders in the sales space who recognize that coaching is the key to unlocking your team's potential, we've got some quick-tips, best-practices — and coaching templates — to empower you to start coaching today! 

What does a coaching program look like? 

Two common models of coaching are directive and developmental. 

  • In a directive coaching model, the coach serves as an expert or example to follow. The coach is telling the team member what the problem is and how to fix it — and likely showing reps examples of call recordings, scripts, and techniques that they can apply to their work. 
  • In developmental coaching, the coach serves more as a resource or guide and asks questions that will help the team member self-discover, develop, and adapt to take action based on their individual selling style. 

While directive coaching methods seem to be more common, research suggests they're less effective than developmental coaching methods. 

How often should I be coaching my team? 

Coaching firm EcSell studied top-performing sales teams and discovered that elite sales managers are most likely to hold team or group meetings on a monthly basis (53%). When it comes to holding 1:1s, it appears that bi-weekly is the winning cadence, with 41% of the top sales teams reporting this to be what worked best for them.  

What should I be asking in coaching sessions?

There are three basic question types that top sales managers and coaches leverage:

  • Observation 
  • Reflection
  • Application. 

An observation question asks the rep to make observations about a call or email that you both have reviewed. Prompts like, "What do you think you did well?" or, "What did you hear that you thought was noteworthy?" will help you determine if your reps are monitoring the correct behaviors. They may or may not be great at looking for clues that impact talk track, pivoting, and other strategies. 

A reflection question encourages your rep to reflect on the things they observed and draw conclusions based on those observations. Asking reflection questions like, "What caused the prospect's confusion about our pricing model?" or, "Why do you think the prospect hesitated about the onboarding comment?" gives you the opportunity to guide your reps in taking things they observed and creating skills to better react to those scenarios in the future. 

Application questions combine the concepts reps learned in the coaching session with self-learning and homework, so they can actively improve. Asking questions like, "What might you do to prepare differently in the future?" or,  "What type of research would be helpful for an upcoming call?" will put the ball in their court and drive them to take action. 

When should I be using action plans and when should I be using programs? 

Some sales teams use action plans solely for performance review plans (PRPs). But action plans can be so much more than that. In fact, studies on the most effective coaching programs show that they include both formal and informal components. Informal sessions are your action plans. Programs are your regularly scheduled programming. Here are some examples of when to use formal vs. informal action plans:


Formal Coaching opportunities to take place on a consistent, regularly scheduled cadence

  • Routine one-on-one meetings
  • Pre-call planning for a customer meeting
  • Customer meeting debriefs
  • Team meetings

Informal Coaching opportunities 

  • When there are signs that things are off track or not going well
  • When behaviors have been coached successfully and managers want to encourage continuation of those changes
  • When a manager receives feedback from internal or external sources
  • When your sales reps are asking for help or support

Looking for more great tips on improving your sales coaching? 

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