Sales Training and Sales Coaching are two different things. Yes, the words might be similar, and people might be under the impression it is simply two different ways of naming the same concept. The terms might (and are often) used interchangeably, but they have truly distinctive meanings when it comes to Sales Enablement. It is important to grasp the value of each concept to truly empower a sales team and drive performance. This can be tricky, and understandably so, as sometimes they overlap.
In this context, we summed up the essential information for each to help clear out the confusion. Here you will not only learn about what differentiates sales training and sales coaching but also how to conduct a successful program for both.
Sales training is structured and can address a group whereas sales coaching focuses on individual weaknesses and development
What is sales training?
For every dollar a company invests in training, it receives about $4.53 in return – which is equivalent to a 353% ROI - Accenture
Sales training is a structured and focused teaching method that focuses on specific concepts or skills. The main goal is to provide high-level knowledge to sales representatives to help them understand their environment, their customers, and the products they are working with. Because it is structured, it can be provided to a group.
Sales training is the best fit for onboarding new employees or presenting new technologies to your sales team. During training, sales representatives work on best practices and techniques that can be applied regardless of the sales environment. When it comes to soft skills, training will provide guidance on:
- How to be an ethical sales representative
- How to develop personal and professional characteristics that create success in Sales
- How to build a long-lasting, trust-based relationship with prospects and customers
Moreover, when it comes to hard skills required to achieve success specifically within your organization, training will teach your teams:
- How to understand and be aware of your company’s industry
- How to identify and qualify potential prospects
- How to identify customers’ needs
- The company’s products, buyer personas, and sales cycles
Sales training is both cost-effective and efficient as it enables you to reach a wider target of sales representatives with the same training. Moreover, as it depicts the company’s know-how, products, and customer expectations, sales training can actually be useful to other customer-facing departments.
How to conduct a successful sales training program?
For sales training to be effective, it must treat a particular subject and seek to achieve defined goals related to said subject. It must educate your team on the subject and how the goals related to it align with the overall company’s goals and strategy.
Sales training ensures that sales representatives can keep up with the competitors and are always up to date when it comes to new and innovative sales techniques or sales technologies for example.
Training for newcomers is about introducing them to the realities of sales, building relationships with customers, performance expectations, and overall company’s mindset and goals.
To do this, successful sales training programs include exercises on:
- Customer resistance and rejections
- Roleplay for different stages of the sales process
- Product and company vision knowledge
It is important to keep in mind that even if sales training is designed to impart knowledge broadly, effective sales training benefits from some tailoring to the audience receiving it.
For example, if you are addressing newcomers with no experience in Sales, customer resistance and rejections is something that you should insist on. On the contrary, if you’re in front of a more experienced audience, it is best to put the focus on specific company processes.
What is sales coaching?
Companies that provide real-time, deal-specific sales coaching increased revenue by 8.4% year-over-year. This is a 95% improvement over companies that don’t provide that level of coaching. - Aberdeen Research
Sales coaching is a less structured teaching method for sales performance improvement. The main goal is equipping individuals with the right tools to continually improve their sales performance by working on their weakest points. Logically, it is provided one-on-one as every sales representative is different.
Sales coaching is the best fit to boost performance for sales representatives that are already well integrated in the organization. The one-on-one environment is most appropriate to discover a sales representative’s weakness by observing them in action.
If everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses to work on, individual performance loss if often related to:
- Ineffective lead research, damaging the win rate
- Poor relationship building skills
- Poor outreach preparation (emails, calls…)
- Poor understanding of sales processes
- Poor sales pipeline construction
Once individual weaknesses are identified, sales coaching entails that a personal development plan should be designed to achieve measurable, steady, and long-term success.
How to conduct a successful sales coaching program?
For sales coaching to be effective, it must focus on each representative’s weaknesses and goals. This is crucial as it ties their personal development and goals with the company. It ensures that performance benefits the individual and the organization simultaneously. This alignment makes sales coaching immensely powerful from a Sales Enablement and sales performance point of view.
A sales coach must position themselves as a counselor and guide to help representatives on their individual needs through time. Indeed, sales coaching should be regular and scheduled to truly harvest results on performance.
In this context, learning exercises are issued from your sales representative’s day-to-day experience and development within your company’s environment. Whereas sales training exercises teach general best practices, sales coaching exercise is directly derived from individual challenges such as:
- General lack of motivation
- Difficulty dealing with specific clients
- Reaching the right key decision-makers during the sales process
- Anxiety due to call reluctance or rejection
- Difficulty breaking into new territories or markets
To tackle this type of issue the coach must personalize the approach as much as possible to have a greater impact on individual development.