In the HubSpot Blog's recent survey of over 500 sales professionals, we tried to see what sales leaders hope to achieve when training reps and the top sales coaching tactics they use to get there — and our survey produced some interesting insight on both fronts.
Here, we'll take a closer look at sales leaders' primary coaching goals — along with some perspective on the methods they use to achieve them. Let's dive in.
According to our survey, most sales leaders prioritize improving reps' sales performance when structuring their coaching strategies — with 52.6% of respondents citing it as a major goal.
The next most popular coaching goal among the sales leaders we surveyed was aligning their sales teams on common goals — with 44.6% of respondents saying it was a priority.
Strengthening relationships between leaders and sales reps to help create an environment of trust was another popular answer — with 43.3% of respondents citing it as important.
Several leaders also stressed the importance of training reps on the tools and resources they need to succeed — with 38.5% of respondents identifying that activity as a goal of theirs.
And finally, 37.8% of the leaders we surveyed said their sales training strategies at least partially revolved around providing consistent and ongoing coaching or feedback to reps.
Now that we have some perspective on the "why" behind how sales leaders structure their coaching strategies, let's take a closer look at the "how."
Managers' Favorite Coaching Tactics
Of the sales leaders we surveyed, 63.3% say managers at their organizations conduct weekly check-ins with their reps, making it the most popular coaching method they leverage. The strategy also has the largest proportion of respondents citing it as the most effective sales coaching strategy — garnering 39.4% of the vote.
Conducting weekly check-ins is popular for a few reasons. For one, it's straightforward and readily accessible. It generally doesn't cost anything beyond 15 to 30 minutes of a manager's time per rep once a week.
Routine one-on-ones or team stand-ups can help facilitate reps' growth, give them the space to air questions or concerns, and add another degree of mutual accountability to the manager-rep dynamic.
The consistency these kinds of meetings offer can help teams align on common goals and foster trust and familiarity between salespeople and their managers. All told, conducting weekly check-ins is a simple but effective method sales orgs can employ to address virtually all of the goals mentioned earlier.
Internal Training Sessions and Coaching
The second most popular sales coaching method sales orgs leverage, according to our respondents, is internal sales training sessions and coaching — with 60.9% of sales leaders saying they use the strategy. And with 34.4% of the vote, internal sales training and coaching comes in as the second most effective sales coaching method.
Offering internal training sessions and coaching is a staple of most sales org's coaching frameworks — particularly as reps are getting started and finding their bearings.
Having dedicated sessions to help reps develop extensive product knowledge, understand a company's market and competitive landscape, learn how to use its CRM, and familiarize themselves with its sales process are all essential to setting them up for success.
And this strategy isn't just applicable to new hires. Ongoing training sessions on elements like the technical specs of new products, any new sales methodologies you might be leveraging, or the nature of new territories or verticals reps might be taking on are all central to maintaining a thriving, consistently improving sales org.
Reviewing Sales Correspondences Between Reps and Prospects
Reviewing sales correspondence between reps and prospects is the third most popular coaching method among sales leaders — with 44.3% of respondents claiming to use it. And with 19.1% of the vote, it also ranks as the third most effective sales coaching strategy.
Though it might be considerably less popular than the previous two methods listed here, reviewing sales correspondence between reps and prospects — including calls or emails — can be an excellent way for managers to understand how their reps are performing and where they might have room for improvement.
Activities like direct call shadowing or leveraging conversation intelligence platforms for call transcripts allow managers to see whether reps are effectively employing their orgs' sales messaging, where they might be over- or under-stepping when talking with prospects, and which elements of their conversations represent their biggest roadblocks.
Training Sessions With a Third-Party
The least used, least effective method for sales coaching among sales leaders was training sessions with a third party — with just 24.6% of respondents saying they use it and only 6.7% citing it as the most effective sales coaching strategy.
Training sessions with third parties tend to be more expensive and typically offer sales orgs less control of what their reps are learning. This particular method doesn't lend itself to more focused information on company-specific elements — like the nature of an org's sales process or relevant product knowledge.
These programs often cover more general skills, such as sales negotiation or relationship selling. Those steeper price tags, coupled with these trainings' less specific nature, mean sales orgs are typically less inclined to employ third-party training sessions on a consistent basis — making the method the least popular of the four listed here.
Even with these facts and figures, it's still worth noting that your sales org's coaching strategy is going to be exactly that — yours. The combination of resources, processes, and tactics you wind up leveraging is going to be specific to factors like your company's needs and organizational structure.
There's no one-size-fits all coaching infrastructure that universally covers the interests and issues of every sales department — and there's a good chance you'll pull from more than one of the methods listed here when putting your broader strategy together.
Regardless of how you choose to coach your salespeople, make sure you understand your company's goals, your sales org's dynamic, and your reps' needs when plotting your course of action.