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Insights

New From ATD Research: Sales Coaching

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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Good news for salespeople: The majority of organizations (62 percent) use sales coaching. An essential practice for developing sales staff, sales coaching—the ongoing process of engaging sales people in coaching, which involves observation, motivation, and feedback—is crucial for ensuring sales reps have the skills they need to excel in their roles.

But it is not enough to simply use sales coaching; organizations must make sure their sales coaching approach is effective. In the new research report Sales Coaching: Building a Successful Sales Force, sponsored by MindTickle, ATD Research examines how organizations use sales coaching and how effective common approaches are. For the report, ATD Research surveyed 291 participants about their organization’s sales coaching practices. The findings below are based on the 181 participants whose organizations use sales coaching.

The Findings

At more than half of organizations (57 percent), coachees receive between one and four hours of sales coaching per month. Because the majority of sales managers and sales leaders who serve as coaches are responsible for coaching five or more salespeople, it can be difficult for them to find more time to coach their staff. This may be why 16 percent of organizations have coachees who receive less than one hour of sales coaching per month.

At some organizations, sales coaching is offered on a temporary basis, such as part of an onboarding program, when individuals are not meeting goals, or until the coachee gains sufficient knowledge or experience. However, the study found that offering sales coaching on an ongoing basis with no end date is linked to better sales performance.

According to the report, the top barriers to effective sales coaching as identified by 43 percent of participants are scheduling conflicts and time constraints. When sales staff and their managers have products to sell, clients to meet, and quotas to fill, working ongoing sales coaching into an already full schedule can be a challenge. For more on sales coaching challenges and how to overcome them, read the full report.

Recommendations

Review of survey findings and interviews conducted with subject matter experts provided several insights into how coaches and organizations alike can improve their approach to sales coaching. A few recommendations are outlined below.

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Incorporate small coaching conversations into busy days. With scheduling conflicts and time restraints identified as the top challenge in sales coaching, it can be difficult for coaches and coachees to find time for sales coaching sessions. This is why Ben Jooste, sales coach and co-founder of me:applied, recommends integrating small coaching sessions into the workday when scheduling challenges arise. “Make a dedicated time for rich coaching experiences embedded into the way you do work already,” he says.

Provide sales coaches with training or resources. Providing sales coaches with training or resources related to sales coaching is linked to better sales performance. Just over half of respondents provide sales coaches with any of the following resources: job aids, on-demand tools, books, cases, or articles; a coaching framework or model; or live, in-person sales coaching training.

Focus on listening and observing. According to participants, listening and observing is the most important skill effective sales coaches should have. As ATD’s management framework ACCEL identifies listening and assessing as a vital management skill, developing listening skills in coaches is bound to help them improve as both coaches and managers.

Learn More

The full report is available for purchase for $199 for ATD members ($499 for nonmembers) at www.td.org/SalesCoachingReport. The whitepaper of the report is free for ATD members to download and $19.99 for nonmembers.

To learn more about the report, join us for a free webcast on October 25 at 2 p.m. ET. Members and nonmembers can register for the free webcast.

Visit the ATD Research page to learn more.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a research analyst at the Association for Talent Development (ATD), where she prepares surveys, analyzes data, and writes research reports and short case studies. Her previous positions at ATD include human capital specialist and communities of practice coordinator.

Prior to working for ATD, Shauna was a senior editorial assistant at Wiley in San Francisco, California. Shauna received a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley, and she is currently attending the University of Connecticut remotely to obtain a master's degree in survey research.

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