The advent of SaaS and cloud-based software services has all but obliterated the traditional sales model, but not many organizations are actually helping their sales teams adapt to this new world order.
Sales training statistics paint a grim picture. Even if business leaders know their employees need support, they often aren’t providing the right kind of support. Some organizations provide no sales training at all, and others simply miss the mark. According to one study, roughly 44% of sales representatives felt their training “needed improvement.”
How can sales leaders and other stakeholders improve how they train the modern sales force?
It’s important to recognize that today’s sales teams are more problem-solvers than deal-closers — soft skills are more important here than technical capabilities. They need to develop flexible ways of thinking and solving problems, become able to navigate ever-present uncertainty, manage time well and be resilient.
Every sales team is composed of vastly different individuals who possess distinctive soft skills, behaviors and mindsets. That’s why personalized approaches to learning and development initiatives, like one-on-one coaching, can be so transformative.
A coach should design each coaching journey based on an individual’s growth and learning goals.
Personalized coaching programs meet sales professionals where they are to help them become better versions of themselves. To realize the power of personalized coaching, sales leaders and other stakeholders should create a coaching culture that supports sales professionals at every level of their career.
Identify a sales coach
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of business coaches — external and internal. External coaches are typically certified third-party partners. Conversely, internal coaches work for the company and could be sales leaders, HR executives or other managers.
While both types of coaches can be effective, internal coaches face some barriers and must proactively:
- Commit to confidentiality: Coaches must create psychologically safe environments for employees to express concerns like professional weaknesses, interpersonal challenges and known biases. If employees fear repercussions from their coaching sessions, they won’t be honest, and the coaching won’t achieve its full potential.
- Prevent role confusion: Internal coaches could interact with employees outside of regular coaching sessions, so they must set clear expectations for how the coach-learner relationship differs from other professional relationships.
- Exercise objectivity: While internal coaches have the benefit of understanding a workplace’s cultural nuances, politics and strategy, they must avoid institutional biases and approach coaching sessions with impartiality.