Comprehensive Guide on Sales Coaching [Sales Experts Edition]

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Here's something sure to make any sales leader feel more than a little uncomfortable:

66% of salespeople with poor sales coaches are considering leaving their jobs.

Crazy, right? Even if your reps are meeting their quotas and earning decent money, the drive to improve, if not met, will end up pushing them to find a new job.

It's often said that younger generations don't want managers, they want coaches, and this is especially true for millennial and Gen Z sales reps.

So, how can sales leadership meet this need? What is actually involved in sales coaching, and how does one go about becoming a great sales coach?

In this guide, we'll discuss a number of key sales coaching concepts, including:

  • What sales coaching is and why it's important
  • What sales coaches do and what makes a great one
  • 11 sales coaching techniques and tips
  • Where to find resources for coaching sales reps
  • How to measure the impact of your sales coaching
  • How to design a great sales coaching plan

Let's start with a bit of 101.

What is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching is a process that holds as its main goal the development and upskilling of individual sales reps.

Sales coaching involves:

  • Establishing one-on-one relationships between sales leaders and salespeople
  • Monitoring individual sales rep performance
  • Conducting team and individual training sessions
  • Providing positive feedback to reps when they display desired sales behaviors
  • Working together to meet loftier and loftier sales goals

While one of the goals of coaching a sales team is to improve performance (and to exceed sales quotas), this is not the only objective.

Good sales coaches seek to develop the skills of their salespeople, which may involve leadership skills and interpersonal skills as well as hard sales skills.

Why is Coaching Sales Reps Important?

The simple truth is this:

There is a strong correlation between investment in coaching sales reps and increased sales performance:

  • Companies with a strong sales performance coaching regime grow revenue 7% faster
  • Reps who receive 30 minutes of coaching a week see win rates of around 43%. Those who get more than 2 hours of coaching up their performance to a 56% win rate.
  • Sales leaders who spend at least 50% of their time coaching reps develop teams that are 28% more productive

In short, coaching sales reps is important because it makes them significantly better at their job. This has a positive impact on sales productivity, targets, and revenue.

What Does a Sales Coach Do?

What Does a Sales Coach Do

Sales coaches work with individual sales team members to improve sales performance.

Sales coach responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing sales data to understand individual rep performance
  • Listening to call and meeting recordings
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement
  • Meeting with the sales representative to review the week and communicate opportunities for improvement
  • Developing and training initiatives
  • Onboarding and training new sales agents
  • Supporting the sales team with the tools they need to do well in their job

Who to Appoint as the Sales Coach in Your Organization

A major challenge for sales leadership is determining who is to be responsible for sales coaching initiatives.

In most organizations, this responsibility falls upon the sales manager as the leader of the sales team.

This can be a valid approach, but it's important to realize that sales management and sales coaching aren't exactly the same discipline.

Sales managers tend to be responsible for a variety of duties, including:

  • Reporting to higher sales leaders on sales volume
  • Developing sales processes
  • Resolving client issues
  • Hiring and onboarding new sales reps
  • Working with product and operations teams

Sales coaches, on the other hand, have a more singular focus: improving sales performance.

Sales Manager

Sales Coach

Sets deadlines and performance targets.

Works with individuals to meet deadlines and performance targets.

Focused mainly on outcomes.

Focused mainly on identifying and overcoming obstacles.

Group focus.

Individual focus.

Multiple responsibilities.

Singular responsibility.

For this reason, another popular approach is to hire a dedicated sales coach, someone with training and individual development experience, who can work in conjunction with the sales manager to improve performance.

This approach is more common in larger organizations that have the budget for both employees, but even smaller companies can take advantage of a dedicated sales coach.

Consider the fact that the sales teams that are doing best have leaders that spend more than 50% of their time on coaching, and then ask yourself: is it realistic for the sales manager to spend half of their time each month on this responsibility?


What Makes a Great Sales Coach?

Not every sales professional is cut out to be a great sales coach; it's a discipline that requires a certain mindset and temperament.

The best sales coaches exhibit these eight traits:

  1. Passionate about supporting salespeople
  2. Empathetic
  3. Great listening skills
  4. Credible experience and expertise
  5. Relatable
  6. Observe and identify problem areas
  7. Honest
  8. Diplomatic

11 Professional Sales Coaching Tips and Techniques

Sales Coaching Techniques

1. Understand that coaching and training aren't the same things

It's a common misconception that coaching and training are synonyms in the world of sales.

This is untrue.

Sales training teaches reps what to do. It involves product education, practicing call scripts, and demo pitches, among other things. It's something that happens in isolation, like a weekly or monthly training session.

Coaching a sales team is an ongoing process that involves much more frequent follow-ups, feedback on specific behaviors, and skill development.

Sales Training

Sales Coaching

Comes before coaching.

Comes after training.

Idea is to teach knowledge.

Idea is to teach behaviors.

Mostly group-based.

Mostly individual-based.

Behaviors are described and learned.

Behaviors are changed and internalized.

Delivered by a sales trainer (internal or external).

Delivered by sales coach or manager.



The problem with training alone is that your return on investment is only around 22%. When you supplement training with ongoing coaching, this increases to 88%.

This is a result of knowledge retention. After a single training session, reps will forget up to 90% of what they learned. Sales coaching helps to reinforce the concepts and techniques taught during training.

So, the idea is to combine the two disciplines.

2. Include one-on-ones

Part of your sales coaching should include regular one-on-one meetings with each sales rep.

Ideally, you'll hold this once a week.

The idea here is to have a regular agenda where you can discuss:

  1. Recap on the previous discussion
  2. Progress towards goals
  3. Skills and behaviors developed in the last week
  4. Areas for improvement identified by the coach
  5. Challenges brought forward by the sales agent

3. Build a resource center for knowledge sharing

One of the challenges of being a sales coach for large teams is the inability to be everywhere at once.

Sales reps, particularly new ones, need a lot of support while learning new techniques and behaviors.

While one-to-one, face-to-face coaching is the ideal scenario for development, you can empower your salespeople to help themselves by creating a comprehensive knowledge base.

For example, a sales rep struggling with a specific objection may be able to access cues and word tracks via this resource center.

4. Leverage your team

Leverage your team

Another way to bring a bit more efficiency to the coaching process, and to simultaneously develop both sales and leadership skills, is to have the high-performers in your team provide some coaching.

For example, you could design a buddy system that pairs senior reps with new salespeople, with an accompanying process for holding sales coaching conversations.

Note that this technique should not be used as a substitute for a real sales coach, rather as a method of supporting the sales coach and increasing the amount of coaching each rep receives from all sources.

5. Use sales reporting to inform sales coaching requirements

A major benefit afforded by modern CRMs and sales platforms is their advanced reporting and analytics capabilities.

Sales coaching can and should use these insights to understand where reps need the most assistance.

For example, many CRMs can provide attrition rates at each pipeline stage. A sales rep who is underperforming at the sales presentation stage, say, is a good candidate for further coaching in this area.

Sales coaches should dig through these reports to identify problem areas, and then guide sales coaching conversations in this direction.

6. Hold regular call recording reviews

If you're managing an inside sales team that is primarily phone-based, then one of the best sales coaching techniques is to conduct regular reviews of sales call recordings.

Sales coaches should listen to phone conversations, identify areas where the individual can improve, and then provide feedback during a one-to-one coaching session.

The trick here is to know which calls to listen to.

The average inside sales rep makes about 10 calls an hour, or roughly 400 dials a week. Obviously, you don't want to be listening to every one of these!

One way you can get around this is to ask sales reps to submit one call recording per day (you can adjust the volume up or down based on your requirements) where they felt like they could do better.

This makes the call review process more efficient, and also encourages buy-in from sales reps into the coaching process.

7. Take a holistic approach

When you coach sales agents, your conversations should be focused on sales performance, more through the lens of behaviors than results.

However, sales coaches should seek to gain an understanding of less tangible factors such as:

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee satisfaction and happiness
  • Career goals and progression objectives

Be sure to cover these points in your sales coaching conversations as well. This is important not only for building rapport and trust but for improving retention rates, as unhappy and disengaged sales reps are much more likely to leave.

8. Include some form of self-evaluation

Sales coach self evaluation

A major aspect of sales coaching is asking sales reps to self-evaluate.

Self-evaluation of performance is easy; reps know if they've met their quotas or not.

But sales coaching should focus on asking reps to evaluate themselves on aspects of their role such as confidence, product knowledge, retention of training materials, and practice of specified sales behaviors.

Having reps self-evaluate improves buy-in, makes individuals more mindful of their actions during the week (and how these actions impact their sales performance), and also serves as a jumping-off point for identifying challenges that sales coaches may not have identified themselves.

9. Get buy-in by involving reps in goal-setting

Though goals such as activity metrics and sales quotas are likely set by the sales manager, coaches can still get reps involved in setting shorter-term goals as a way of increasing engagement in the sales coaching process.

For example, if you're working with an agent to improve their close rate, a good starting point is to identify a specific behavior (such as a word track or closing question) that high-performers in this area use.

You can then have the rep set a goal of using that phrase a percentage of the time during their conversations, and review the impact of this commitment in the following session.

10. Reinforce positive behaviors

When we think about training and coaching, we tend to focus on identifying negative behaviors (ones that don't turn into good sales results) and eliminating them.

More effective, though, is to encourage, praise, and reinforce positive behaviors.

Let's take a simple example:

You're coaching an outbound sales rep who is currently opening each call with “Hi, it's John from XYZ company, is now a good time to talk?”

You've identified that high-performers use a different opener (“Hi, it's John from XYZ company. If you'd give me just 30 seconds to explain why I'm calling, I'll be super quick.”)

In this situation, you'll have more success by identifying when the salesperson uses the latter phrase and delivering positive feedback than you will be letting them know each time they used the old one.

11. Focus on one thing at a time

Sales is a multifaceted role.

Even this most experienced salesperson on your team will have a variety of things they can improve on.

As a sales coach, it's your job to identify the biggest levers to pull. That is, the behaviors you can change that will have the most impact.

Rather than trying to upskill sales reps in every dimension possible, focus on one specific behavior at a time.

Once you've worked with a rep to nail down the most impactful sales behavior, move on to the next one, and so on.

Sales Coaching Resources

Sales Coaching Resources

Sales Coaching Training

One area where many organizations could improve is in investing in sales coaching resources for the coaches themselves.

After all, coaches need to keep upskilling too, so they can continue to improve and provide better and better support for their team.

Programs like Richardson Sales Performance's Sales Leadership Training can provide one-to-one support for sales coaches, whereas full-scale sales management coaching programs such as SalesStar can give your sales coach an entire framework to work from.

Sales manager coaching can be a significant investment in and of itself, so some smaller organizations may find that such an initiative is outside of their budget.

In that case, one could invest in popular sales coaching books such as:

  1. Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach
  2. Next Level Sales Coaching
  3. The Sales Coach's Playbook
  4. Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions

Sales Coaching Software

The great news for today's sales coaches is that there are a number of really great tools to support your coaching program.

Gong, for example, is a conversation intelligence tool that captures customer communication (such as phone calls and emails), analyzes it, and provides actionable insights that can be used to coach low-performers.

Let's say you're working on a real estate coaching program for your team, and you're looking to identify the key behaviors top peers agents exhibit. Gong can analyze the content of phone conversations these agents are having, and tell you exactly what is working and what isn't.

Interaction talk Ratio


How to Measure Sales Performance Coaching Effectiveness

The most effective way to measure and understand the impact of your sales coaching efforts is to decide on key metrics you're looking to influence.

For example, you may decide to coach sales reps in a specific part of the sales process (let's say closing), in which case you'd want to track a relevant metric such as your deal win rate and monitor this metric as coaching progresses.

There are a variety of metrics you can measure to understand how effective your sales performance coaching efforts are:

Sales Performance Metrics

Sales Activity Metrics

Team Culture Metrics

Sales quota attainment


Employee retention rates

Deal win rate


Employee engagement and satisfaction score

Revenue growth


Sick days

Pipeline value

New leads

Stress level

Sales velocity


Percentage of reps who get promoted to more senior roles

Pipeline stage conversion rates

Total prospects in the pipeline


Average deal size


How to Build a Professional Sales Coaching Plan

Build a professional sales coaching plan

1. Create an onboarding plan

Sales coaching begins on day one.

Before you onboard new reps, make sure you have a thorough onboarding process that takes new hires through the various facets of the sales process, includes plenty of product training, and focuses on role-plays and real-life scenarios to get reps up and running quickly.

As part of this onboarding plan, establish a cadence for meeting with reps on an individual basis for coaching sessions.

2. Design a development plan for ramping reps up

Reps don't move through a period of training and then immediately start performing like existing agents and attaining sales quotas.

Even experienced salespeople take a few months to ramp up to a full quota, and your sales coaching plan should reflect this.

Your development plan should clearly describe what skills you're going to focus on across the first few months, as well as expectations for rep performance.

3. Set clear goals and check-in points

New and existing sales agents alike should have a clear understanding of the goals and intended outcomes of your sales coaching efforts.

We've already discussed some key metrics to monitor above.

Use these to set clear objectives with your sales reps, and schedule check-in points to monitor progress.

Remember that we only want to work on one goal at a time, so be sure to communicate with your reps that the idea is to move the needle on one metric, achieve that goal, and then move on to the next objective.

4. Include time for real-life run-throughs

Every salesperson knows that the best way to make progress is to practice in real-life scenarios.

The thing is, practicing new skills on actual calls puts potential deals at risk.

Get around this by dedicating plenty of time to roleplay scenarios where you and the rep can work on specific skills, word tracks, and responses.

5. Leave space to focus on current challenges

Be sure to allow plenty of room to adjust your plan as required.

As the rep progresses, your coaching should gradually become more need-oriented, in that you're providing assistance in the areas they're struggling most with.

For example, you might find that after 6 months, a certain rep is nailing the needs qualification part of the sales process, but isn't doing so well at booking the demo.

Leaving some space for more reactive skills coaching allows you to cater to the rep's individual needs.


Sales coaching tips

Let's quickly recap on the 11 sales coaching tips we discussed here today:

  1. Understand that coaching and training aren't the same things
  2. Include one-on-ones
  3. Build a resource center for knowledge sharing
  4. Leverage your team
  5. Use sales reporting to inform sales coaching requirements
  6. Hold regular call recording reviews
  7. Take a holistic approach
  8. Include some form of self-evaluation
  9. Get buy-in by involving reps in goal-setting
  10. Reinforce positive behaviors
  11. Focus on one thing at a time

After more tips on leading and coaching a sales team? Check out our blog for more helpful insights.

Skyrocket your sales with the CRM that does it all

Skyrocket your sales with the CRM that does it all.

Calling? Check. SMS? Check. Automation and AI? Check. Effortlessly keep in touch with your customers and boost your revenue without limits.

Try Ringy for Free