Coaching for Sales: A Complete Guide to Successful Sales Coaching and Coaching Orchestration™

Sales coaching is not just another way to reframe the sales manager’s job. Sales coaching is about applying frameworks and measurable processes to help reps, teams, and companies be greater. Coaching for sales is about metric based performance and creating a culture of excellence throughout the team and company. Whether you are a first time sales leader or a seasoned manager, here are some powerful strategies and concepts to master when you take on the responsibility of coaching for a sales team or deploying coaching orchestration for your company.

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How Sales Coaching is Different than Managing and Training

Sales coaching requires the coach or manager to assess the performance of the rep and team and understand the performance gap between where the rep is today and where they could be if they reach their peak potential. 

Once a coach has assessed the gap, they can uncover deficits where the rep may need to be trained (such as giving a demo or objection handling) and begin coaching for sales performance. They can manage the rep’s pipeline with them in forecast or pipeline coaching sessions, and they can also coach them on how to grow in their role and career. The sales coach takes on the assessment piece and forms a coaching plan that encompasses managing and training. 

What makes a good sales coach?

Good coaches know how to assess a rep and team’s current state and apply a series of prescribed programs to get the team to be greater as not just performers, but as teammates and as people. Good coaches understand directive vs developmental coaching styles and they work to apply their coaching style in a way that motivates the whole team. Things great coaches focus on are:

Coaching the Whole Person

The attitude, the integrity, the mindset, communication style, the drive. These are all things great coaches can influence by tailoring coaching in 1:1 sessions and assessing the performance of the rep as a whole person vs. just a recent percent to target on a KPI. 

Coaching the Skills and Activities

This is where a great coach understands the right levers to pull to level up the aptitude across the board. Where do you deploy call coaching programs? Where do you tag in sales enablement? What disciplines can each member benefit from, and do you have the training frameworks in place to scale coaching for each of the disciplines you want reps to master?

Coaching Strategies and Objectives

Great coaches should help their reps not just with a single deal chase, but with a full pipeline strategy for deals in various stages. The strategic support should come in the way of showing reps how to build and manage a full book of business rather than laser in on one or two deals per quarter. 

Great coaches have activity and objective targets laid out for the day, week, and month. Let the reps have clear visibility into the activity targets and the full team have access into the performance against those targets. When reps can be intrinsically accountable to the activity, coaches can help with efficiency coaching to ensure reps also hit their objectives. 


How to Measure Sales Coaching Effectiveness

The 3 key ways to measure sales coaching are by quantity of the coaching activities, quality of the sessions, and performance improvements annotated.

#1: Quantity of coaching
Manager Accountability view in Ambition for sales coaching

  • 1:1s
  • Team meetings
  • Skills training modules completed by reps or led by managers
  • Call coaching sessions completed

#2: Quality of coaching

  • Rep sentiment or rating
  • % of reps to quota, not just total team to quota

#3: Effectiveness of coaching

  • Conversion rate of connects to meetings set: tells you if your rep’s pitch is working to get meetings
  • Conversion rate of meetings set to meetings held: are we using the right strategies to keep prospects engaged
  • Conversion rate of meetings held to next step: tells you if the meetings are successfully driving to next stage
  • Conversion rate of opportunity to closed won: tells you if you need to improve closing skills
  • Conversion rate of outbound emails to replies: tells you if the email language is working
  • Conversion rate of LinkedIn connections to meetings set: tells you if social selling skills are there
  • Conversion rate of sales qualified leads (SQLs) to discovery meetings set / needs further analysis: tells you if your reps are able to turn highly qualified leads into an actual meeting or next steps
  • Conversion rate of total opportunities to opportunities won by rep: tells you which reps are your best closers and which need help here. You can break this down further by every opportunity stage to see which part of the deal reps need training in, such as demo, proposal, negotiation, etc. 
  • Average order value by rep: tells you if some reps rely too heavily on discounting
  • Retention rate by sales rep: tells you if your reps are selling good meetings

When it comes to frequency, duration, and agenda of coaching, it is important to remember that consistency is the primary factor for success. Reports from Ecsell Institute indicate that weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 and cadences seem to be the most successful when it comes to improving certain efficiency rates like opportunities to won opportunities. For team meetings, top performing teams found monthly is the right cadence, when weekly is the most common. 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Coaching Sales Teams

  1. Don’t just tell them what to do. Ask them, show them, teach them. 
    1. Developmental and directive coaching styles are both important when it comes to creating high-performing sales reps.
    2. Ask observation, reflection, and application questions to help develop your reps. 
    3. Set clear activity expectations and direct the types of activities that have been shown to perform.
  2. Don’t skip.
    1. Be consistent and document your coaching. Follow up on action items and plans.
    2. Share expectations, not ideas. The more clear you are about expectations, the better you are setting up your reps for success.
    3. The 1:1 is not about you, the coach. The 1:1 is about the rep.
  3. Don’t waste time digging for calls and reports.
    1. Assign your reps call recordings to surface ahead of time in your 1:1 check-ins or via call camps.
    2. Automate the metrics you care about as much as possible and have those front and center in every 1:1 and team meeting. This way, you can see how the coaching is working to improve those metrics, and the team is aware that those are the metrics you care about.​​​​​​
      Metrics tab within Ambition coaching showing individual metrics
  4. Don’t coach by putting out fires in the moment.
    1. Default to scalable coaching orchestration with consistent recurring 1:1 and team sessions that serve a clear purpose and have measurable outcomes.
  5. Don’t coach without data.
    1. Metrics based coaching allows you to assess whether or not coaching is closing the performance gap.
    2. Pay attention to metrics for coaches and reps, such as:
      1. The coaching activities that are taking place
      2. The efficiency metric performance improvement

Attribution metrics in Ambition for sales coaching

Coaching for sales, or any revenue role, is something we are very passionate about at Ambition. Looking to stay in touch with us on all things coaching, sales, and more? Subscribe to the A-List here and get Ambition’s monthly digest of can’t-miss sales content sent straight to your inbox. 

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