What is a sales coaching program? 

We all know that sales is a team sport, but sales coaching should be, too. A sales coaching program is a formal and consistent training process designed to help revenue teams reach their goals via skill training and knowledge transfer. The key to running sales coaching programs that drive higher performance and revenue, however, is making sure they’re interactive and collaborative

Think about it. A basketball coach’s job is to build a team that knows how to work together effectively. Their coaching program is designed to help their players become faster, sharper, and one step ahead of their opponents. They don’t accomplish that by showing their team a video called “How to Play Basketball,” sending them out on the court, and expecting them to dominate. They hold practices, run drills, and play back their games to see what went well and how they can improve.

Your job as a sales coach isn’t all that different. Just like that of a sports team, your sales coaching program should be an opportunity for your people to work together, practice what they’re learning as they learn it, and be active players in their own development. One-way communication isn’t good coaching—it’s a waste of everyone’s time. How can you elevate your sales coaching program to all-star status? 

Ambition’s most recent Coaching Orchestration™ innovation, Group Check-ins, is your ticket to more effective team coaching, stronger collaboration, and bigger revenue wins. In this post, we’ll break down 5 ways you can start using Group Check-ins right now and earn yourself a spot in the sales coaching hall of fame 🏆.

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5 Sales Coaching Programs to Start Running Right Now

1. Call Camp

Ambition Call Camp

What it is:

Host a weekly “Call Camp” where your reps submit their best and/or worst calls of the week. Choose a theme every week based on a specific scenario your team faces often and needs to practice. Examples could be handling objections like “I’m not the right person to talk to” or getting a prospect to accept the meeting invite before the call ends. Have your reps submit their call recordings, listen to them prior to Call Camp, and vote on the best/worst winners. Use meeting time to talk about those specific calls. 

Why it’s important: 

This group call review gives remote and in-office teams time to connect and share best practices in a consistent, weekly format. You can change the focus of the meeting from week to week. Some weeks can focus on the best calls, what made them great, and celebrating those reps. Other weeks can focus on the worst calls. This gives your people a safe space where they can recognize their opportunities for improvement, seek coaching, and see that you support their growth.

From sourcing calls to training, traditional call coaching is time consuming. Call Camp is a valuable alternative because reps source and submit their own calls. The group setting allows for peer-to-peer coaching, and reps will reinforce the right behaviors as they pinpoint what made a call successful or how someone could improve. It’s a win-win-win. Managers can scale their time, reps offer one another diverse viewpoints, and everyone gets to celebrate wins and learn together as a team. 

How you know it’s working: 

Track both qualitative and quantitative attribution metrics. To show leadership that coaching is happening consistently, managers need to be able to document every coaching session they have each week. Call Camp counts as one of those sessions! You can also look at rep and team performance metrics to see improved conversation to meetings set rate. 

2. Weekly Team Meetings

Ambition Weekly Team Meetings

What it is: 

Team meetings are often used as a communication point for leadership, but they’re also valuable opportunities to help your reps and team as a whole do their jobs better—but only when everyone has a role to play. Group Check-ins gives everyone an opportunity to contribute and participate in the meeting, making it a more collaborative, interactive, and valuable use of time. Remember, two-way communication is critical. 

Why it’s important: 

In addition to reviewing critical business metrics, this is a time to review progress to goal, targets, and assign action items for improvement. Everyone plays an active role in the meeting, which keeps your people engaged and aligned. Instead of presenting a detailed deck with agenda items, make the agenda interactive. Assign team members to be SMEs on a specific topic or skill, and ask them to bring tips to share with the team each week. Allow time for discussion on new challenges, coaching strategies, and how to improve overall performance and communication. 

How you know it’s working: 

Ask your people! Managers should survey their teams quarterly or bi-annually to rate the impact and efficacy of the meetings. From the rep perspective, you should see certification or accolade completion based on what they learned from SMEs, as well as increased individual and team goal attainment. 

3. Peer<>Peer Coaching and Call Reviews

Peer coaching checkins

What it is: 

Peer<>Peer coaching leverages the power of co-coaches to help scale manager time and allows senior team members to take on a more active role in the coaching process. Managers can (and should!) still review some of the co-coaching sessions, but this doubles as professional development for the senior teammates and builds team trust for both the coach and the rep. 

Why it’s important: 

Getting feedback from peers is often more impactful than hearing it from a manger. Managers are paid to offer feedback, while peers have "boots on the ground" and are able to speak from recent and current lived experiences that you both share. It can be uncomfortable to listen to your own calls, either in a group setting or with another peer, but creating a culture where transparency is celebrated at every level is very powerful. It's one of the only ways to make big leaps in improvement on the phone.

How you know it’s working: 

When peers give feedback, they put themselves in the coach’s shoes for a few minutes. Analyzing a call as a coach helps many reps better understand best practices and recognize those behaviors in their own calls. When you allow someone to be a teacher, they become a better student. You'll see this play out in improved connect<>meeting set ratio. As your reps become more in tune with what quality meeting sets look like and how to get invites accepted in real time, you’ll also see improvements in meeting set<>meeting held ratio.

4. Pipeline Forecasts and Deal Reviews

sales pipeline and forecast coaching

What it is: 

Pipeline forecasts and deal reviews focus on very specific opportunities and get into the tactical, nitty-gritty parts of moving deals forward. These can be done in a group setting and/or individually between manager and rep. More often than not, this is the only type of coaching reps get—which is not best practice. There is a time, place and *need* for pipeline and deal reviews, but this alone is not comprehensive sales coaching. 

Why it’s important: 

Everyone wants to hit quota, and the only way to do this is to build your pipeline. It is crucial to meet with your team to discuss this often so you can be proactive and realistic about whether or not you will hit your goal. Newer reps will need help understanding when to multi-thread into a deal, when to ask the champion for backup, when to find an executive sponsor, etc. This is the time to answer those questions.  

How you know it’s working: 

You know pipeline and forecasting coaching is working when your formulas for pipeline and forecasting get more predictable. If you can dial-in your conversion ratios and account for any unexpected changes, you are on the path to predictability. You will also see the benefits of this kind of coaching as your reps get better at judging what deals are real and what is fluff that they need to DQ or push out. You'll know your coaching is working when you see:

  • Average deal size and days to close become more average with fewer outliers
  • More reps hit revenue quota
  • A number of deals across all opportunity stages. 
  • Hygiene metrics improve—no more deals sitting open with past-due closed dates

5. 1:1 Sales Coaching

1:1 sales manager and sales rep coaching review

What it is: 
1:1 manager<>rep coaching is meant to be proactive, consistent, and develop the whole employee. The agenda and outline should be driven by the manager and the meeting should be *for* the rep. The consistency of cadence, preparedness, and quality of the manager's agenda should generate trust and build mutual accountability between the rep and the manager. The most common frequency here is weekly or bi-weekly. Use this time to discuss personal updates, long-term goals, short-term daily work or priorities, and how you can help remove any blockers your reps face. 

Why it’s important: 

This 1:1 manager training has been proven to increase goal attainment, improve employee retention, and drive more team alignment. This is a chance for the manager to tailor coaching to the reps each week and work toward driving accountability for both parties on blockers, deal asks, etc. The manager should be in the practice of asking their reps a combination of observation, application and reflection-style questions (ahead of time!) to help drive a developmental coaching model. While there are a number of different coaching models your organization may use, all of them should help develop the employee holistically and not just be a deal review or another meeting canceled!

How you know it’s working: 

You will know your 1:1s are working when you start to see gains in your middle 70% of reps. Some of the metrics you may measure are: 

  • Percent of reps to quota (not just team to quota)
  • Check-in satisfaction ratings
  • Improvement in meeting set and meeting hold rates
  • Improvement in deal stage advancement
  • Healthy employee retention

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