Sales Coaching: It’s Not Business Coaching!

Business coaching has become mainstream across organisations in recent years. Coaching is considered a crucial development and performance tool for any high-performing role and, if applied effectively, coaching gets results.

Figures from the International Coach Federation (ICF) reveal that in 2016 around 11,000 managers and leaders within organisations were using coaching skills. The ICF survey data also found that effective business coaching produces strong financial results. Other surveys have found that businesses are quickly reporting a return on the initial investment into coaching – in some cases up to 49 times the investment. So, coaching is now a mainstream and formal business practice. 

But business coaching is not the same as sales coaching. Business coaching is generally delivered one-on-one by a trained professional and focuses on career development, leadership, empowerment and personal growth. Executive or business coaching is aimed at inspiring and transforming a leader over the long-term, which wouldn’t work in the sales environment as sales requires a more directive approach with more immediate results.

Sales coaching is the process of maximising sales performance in the short and long-term through a coaching playbook, one-on-one coaching and group conversations. This needs to be conducted regularly and consistently over the long term. Sales coaching is a process aimed at making change systematic and best practice part of everyday work life.

Sales coaching is both strategic and tactical, relying upon the development of an effective, focused sales strategy. It helps create and develop a salesperson’s talent and introduces practices that set the sales team up for success.

While sales coaching generally covers everything listed under business coaching, sales coaching focuses on individual salespeople as well as the continuous knowledge and development of the entire sales team.

To be most effective, sales coaching should be delivered by someone who understands selling; an expert in the sales field. Because of this, sales coaching is usually the domain of a sales manager or specialist sales coach. So generally, business or executive coaches without sales experience are not the most effective sales coaches.

Therefore, when tasking someone with delivering sales coaching, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Do they have time to coach?

  • Are they comfortable coaching?

  • Do they understand what sales coaching is?

  • Do they have strong coaching conversation skills?

  • Will they establish a consistent rhythm of coaching? 

  • Do they have the tools and resources to help them make sales coaching a success?

Through a culture of coaching sales teams can move from ordinary to extraordinary – as long as it’s done effectively, efficiently and by someone who understands the sales environment.