Elevate Your Team With Effective Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching
Want to Improve Your Team's Sales Performance?

Tom Brady had Bill Belichick. Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson. And the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has had Geno Auriemma since 1985.

What do these three people have in common? They’re all great coaches who elevate their players to new heights—and have plenty of championships to prove their worth.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with top-level athletes or sales reps, coaching matters.

The question we have for you is, do you invest in your sales team? Do you set aside time to coach your reps and ensure they reach their full potential? You should!

In this article, we’ll explain what sales coaching is, the benefits sales coaches provide, how to improve your coaching skills, and a whole lot more. Let’s get this show on the road…


What Is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching is the process of mentoring sales reps in one-on-one scenarios so that they can improve performance, close more deals, and drive more revenue for your company.

There are many different ways to coach reps—we’ll cover a few different models in a later section of this article. But the end goal is always the same: help sales reps excel in their roles.

Now, it’s important to understand the differences between sales coaching and sales training.

Sales coaching, as we just explained, is the act of helping reps unlock their potential. It’s a continual process that happens from the beginning to the end of a rep’s time with your company.

Sales training is different. This process teaches reps the standard skills they need to do their jobs. You might train your reps to use your department’s CRM or implement your sales strategy, for example. You know, things every rep needs to learn, regardless of their natural abilities.

Think about it like this: trainers teach athletes how to lift weights. Coaches teach athletes how to use the strength they’ve built to navigate the court and score points in a real basketball game.


The Role of a Sales Coach

Sales coaches work with individual sales reps to help improve their sales performance.

Because of this, coaching a sales team always looks different. You might help one rep develop good habits so that they can consistently sell at a high level. You might help another rep supercharge their selling technique so that they can close more deals. And you might help a brand new rep improve their confidence so that they can make their first few sales.

In other words, sales coaching focuses on fundamentals that allow reps to succeed. It does not focus on specific numbers. After all, if you nail the fundamentals, the numbers will naturally rise.

So, to officially answer the question, the role of a sales coach is to mentor sales reps on an individual basis, so that they can improve their skills and close more deals than before.


Examples of Sales Coaching

What does sales coaching look like in real life? We’re glad you asked! Here are a few examples that will help you understand the nuts and bolts of this important practice:

  • You review a rep’s latest sales call to identify what they did right and wrong
  • You review your reps’ daily sales activity, such as the number of face-to-face interactions they have with potential customers. (For those managing field sales teams.)
  • You analyze a rep’s sales email sequence to determine how it can be improved
  • You meet with a sales rep on a regular basis to discuss top field sales techniques
  • You allow a rep to ask you questions about the sales process, and give honest answers
  • You jump on a sales call with a rep so that you can give them advice during the call


Benefits of Sales Coaching

We’ve taken a lot of time to define what sales coaching is and what it looks like in the real world. Now, let’s talk about why you should invest in coaching sales reps. Here are four reasons:


Improved Sales Performance

As we’ve discussed, sales coaching results in better sales performance. How could it not?

Sales coaches teach reps the skills they need to close more deals, generate more revenue, and enjoy more success. These skills are typically learned through experience, so sales coaches can help reps develop much faster than they would if they were simply left to their own devices.


Increased Employee Engagement

According to recent research, average rep tenure is a paltry 18 months. This is problematic because high turnover rates increase company expenses while lowering revenue potential.

Fortunately, sales coaching helps keep reps engaged. It makes sense. When your reps succeed, they’ll enjoy their jobs. And when they enjoy their jobs, they’ll stick around for longer. This is especially true when coaches use metrics to show performance. KPIs like the volume of prospect interactions per rep can help gauge progress and inspire sellers to new heights.


Enhanced Skill Development

Does your company invest a lot of resources into sales training? Then do yourself a favor and commit to sales coaching, too. That way your reps maximize the training they receive.

This is especially important in light of a Gartner study that shows the average B2B sales rep forgets 70% of what they learned within a week of sales training, and 87% forget within a month.


Better Sales Pipeline Management

Finally, sales coaching will help you manage your sales pipeline more effectively.

When your reps have the skills they need to make sales, they’ll do so more consistently. You can then look at your pipeline and accurately predict which prospects will turn into customers.

You’ll also know which of your reps are most likely to close deals and can use that knowledge to properly assign leads. This will almost certainly result in more revenue for your company.


Sales Coaching Models

So, how should you go about coaching a sales team? The best way is to follow one of the coaching models we outline below. Study each of them to identify the right model for you:


GROW Model

GROW is an acronym that stands for:

  • Goal: What are you trying to achieve? And what habits do you need to develop to achieve them? SMART goals are generally best for the GROW model.
  • Reality: What skill sets do your reps already have? What skill sets do they need to develop? Is there anything preventing them from developing these skills?
  • Options and Obstacles: What’s the best way to address the obstacles standing in the way of your reps? Suggest multiple ways to overcome these challenges.
  • Way Forward: What action steps can your reps take to reach success? Create a plan to help reps get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future.

GROW is an effective sales coaching model—especially when sales managers allow their reps to lead conversations and define goals, realities, obstacles, etc.



OSKAR is an acronym that stands for:

  • Objective: Ask your reps to define the goal they want to achieve.
  • Scale: Have your rep rate their current performance on a scale of 1 – 10.
  • Know-How: Determine what your rep needs to achieve their goal. Possible solutions include specific training resources, in-depth sales knowledge, and accountability.
  • Affirm and Action: Tell reps what they’re currently doing well. Then work with reps to identify specific actions they can take to improve. Be sure to include deadlines.
  • Review: Go over your conversation and ask reps for feedback on the coaching session.

OSKAR is a great sales coaching method for reps who need consistent encouragement. Does that sound like someone on your team? Give this methodology a try!



CLEAR is an acronym that stands for:

  • Contract: Create a contract of sorts between you and your sales rep. The contract should define when you’ll meet, the goals you have, and your criteria for success.
  • Listen: Let your rep state their current sales-related problem. Then ask questions that will help you understand said problem on a deeper level (and listen to the answers.)
  • Explore: Ask a few more open-ended questions about the reps problem and goals. Do your best to keep your questions brief and let the rep do most of the talking.
  • Acton: Start to ask more specific questions that help your rep understand the actions they need to take. The goal is to let the rep come to their own conclusions.
  • Review: Take a moment at the end of the session to reflect. What did you and your rep talk about and what were the main takeaways?

The CLEAR model is ideal for self-motivated reps, as they’ll be doing most of the work. The sales coach is really just there to guide reps to their own conclusions in a productive way.


FUEL Model

FUEL is an acronym that stands for:

  • Frame the Conversation: Start by setting expectations. What do you and your reps want to achieve? And how will you work towards these goals?
  • Understand: Next, analyze your rep’s current state. Ask a variety of open-ended questions to learn about the root cause behind your rep’s current issues.
  • Explore: Then look at your rep’s goals. How can they achieve these things? Explore ways for your rep to reach success and work to prioritize them effectively.
  • Lay Out a Plan: Finally, give your rep specific action steps they can take to progress in their sales career. Make sure you include timelines and a follow-up schedule as well.

FUEL is a pretty straightforward approach that should work in most sales coaching scenarios.


WOOP Model

WOOP is an acronym that stands for:

  • Wish: What does your rep want to achieve?
  • Outcome: What specific goals will your rep accomplish when they get their wish?
  • Obstacles: What specific challenges must your rep overcome to reach their goals?
  • Plan: What milestones does your rep need to meet to ultimately achieve their wish?

The WISH model is more abstract than the other sales coaching methods we’ve talked about. As such, it’s great for reps who desire flexibility throughout the coaching process.


Best Practices for Sales Coaching

Coaching sales reps isn’t easy, which is why the sales coaching models above are so popular. Each is designed to help reps succeed under your mentorship. You know what else will help them succeed? The best practices below. Implement them and watch your sales team thrive.


Set SMART Goals

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing—making dinner, running a marathon, or coaching sales reps—you need a specific goal to achieve. But not all goals are created equal.

When setting objectives with sales reps, focus on SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

  • Specific: Your goal should have a specific desired outcome
  • Measurable: Your goal should be trackable in some way
  • Attainable: Your goal should be challenging, but achievable
  • Relevant: Your goal should align with your company’s objectives
  • Time-Bound: Your goal should have a clearly understood deadline

Here’s a quick example of a SMART goal for sales reps: I want to improve my current sales email sequence so that it achieves a 15% response rate by the end of Q2.


Sales goal template


Customize Your Approach

Every rep is different. The best sales coaches tailor their approach to the specific person they’re working with. That way each rep gets the most out of the sessions you have with them.

For example, you might use the OSKAR sales coaching model for a new rep who hasn’t made many sales yet, and whose confidence is flagging. But you might choose the CLEAR sales coaching model for more experienced reps who simply need someone to bounce ideas off of.

The content of your coaching sessions will vary too, of course. You might help one rep improve their organizational skills so that they can better track their email follow-ups, while another rep will need your help to improve their sales call etiquette and boost their close rate.

You might be tempted to put every rep through the same sales coaching process—it would be a whole lot simpler for you. But customization is essential if you truly want your reps to succeed.


Use Effective Sales Coaching Tools

Technology can make the sales coaching process easier. But a quick Google search will reveal dozens of different sales coaching tools. Which ones are right for your organization?

We can’t answer that question for you, but we can share a few types of technology to consider:

  • CRM Software: This tool will help you see who’s in your rep’s pipeline and how many times they’ve contacted them. With this information you can help your reps plan effective paths forward. The best part, you probably already have and use a CRM!
  • Sales Engagement Software: This tool is designed to help sales reps engage potential customers and track their efforts. You can use the data inside to analyze rep behaviors and help optimize communication sequences. SPOTIO is a top option in this category.
  • Sales Enablement Software: This tool gives reps easy access to the resources they need to close deals. We’re talking about sales content, training, contracts, etc. Many of these apps have dedicated sales coaching features, too, making them extra valuable.
  • Conversational Intelligence Software: This tool will record, transcribe, and even analyze sales calls for you and your reps. You can use it to study the calls your reps make, then use the built-in AI technology to provide them with top-level feedback.


Provide Constructive Feedback

As a sales coach, you must give your reps feedback. If you don’t, you’re not really a coach.

But feedback should be delivered in a very specific way. First, it should be constructive. Don’t just tell your reps what they’re doing wrong, tell them how to fix their mistakes.

Second, try to offer more positive than negative feedback. This will keep your reps happy and engaged in the sales coaching process, and motivate them to achieve more. Constant negative feedback produces opposite results. No one wants to be told how lousy they are every day.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should lie to your reps. You need to give them honest feedback so that they can improve their skills. But you should always look to praise reps when possible.


Focus on One Improvement at a Time

What if the rep you’re coaching has multiple problem areas? Maybe they lack confidence, possess very little organization skills, and have a hard time overcoming objections.

This rep is obviously in a tough spot, and you might think working on all of their issues at one time will yield the best results. But this would be a serious mistake.

Sales coaching is more effective when one weakness is tackled at a time. Why? Because it prevents overwhelm and makes it easier to track progress. Once the rep starts stacking wins, they’ll improve at a faster pace, but don’t rush the progress. Concentration is key.


Create Action Plans

Meeting with reps is great. Asking them questions and analyzing their sales behaviors is even better. But none of it will matter if you don’t create action plans for them to follow.

Start with the rep’s goal. What do they want to achieve? Maybe they want to master a specific sales technique. Perhaps they’re looking to improve their objection-handling abilities. Whatever the goal is, break it down into a series of achievable steps.

For example, the goal, “get better at handling objections” can be broken down into the following steps: gain a deeper understanding of your target market, study specific objection-handling techniques, implement said techniques, analyze sales call recordings, etc.

If you really want to get the most out of this tip, guide your reps through this process, rather than doing it for them. This will help your reps be proactive and think through the challenges they must overcome. It will also help motivate them to put their plan in action.


Hold Reps Accountable

Speaking of putting plans in action…

One of the most important jobs you have as a sales coach is holding your reps accountable. You need to make sure they implement the advice you give them.

The easiest way to do this is to ask your reps about their progress. Use questions like, “What measurable progress have you made since we last spoke?” and “Have you discovered new challenges to overcome?” and “How do you plan to overcome these challenges?”

We also suggest reviewing sales activity metrics in your department’s CRM software. Has your rep made as many visits or sent as many emails as they say they have? You need to know.


Offer Professional Development Opportunities

Sales coaching doesn’t always need to be a formal process.

What if you coached your reps by offering them on-demand resources they can study on their own? Then, once a few reps have been through the material, you can host a meeting to discuss takeaways. The right sales courses, books, and podcasts can be incredibly valuable, which is why every sales department should make them available to its reps.

One more thing: 94% of employees would stay with their current company for longer if they were given professional development opportunities. Win!


Celebrate Success and Encourage Open Communication

Last but not least, celebrate the wins with your sales reps. Doing so will encourage them to work harder and achieve more—both of which are good things for your sales department.

The way you celebrate is up to you, and may even change depending on who you’re working with. Some reps, for example, might appreciate a physical reward when they reach their goals. Others will be happy with a handshake and the knowledge that they’re hard work has paid off.

It’s up to you to motivate your reps in a way that brings out their best selves.

Now, you might be wondering, “What happens when my reps don’t succeed?” This is when open communication is critical. Help your reps learn from their mistakes by talking about what went wrong; then providing tactical ways they can improve their abilities in the future.


Maximize Your Success With Effective Sales Coaching

Sales coaching is incredibly important. Once you take it seriously, your reps will perform better and stick around for longer. As an added bonus, managing your pipeline will get easier, too.

The question is, how do you coach sales reps effectively? We won’t lie to you, it’s not easy. But the tips, tricks, and best practices we covered in this article will help.

The right software won’t hurt either. If you manage a field sales team, the right software is almost certainly SPOTIO. Why? Our platform was specifically designed for your needs and will allow you to easily track rep sales activity, analyze email and text messages, and more.

Sign up for a free demo of SPOTIO right now to see our industry leading tool in action!