Sales coaching vs sales training


Part of the sales leader’s role is to upskill their reps to have better conversations, delight more customers and win more revenue. But when should they train them and when should they coach? Which is more effective? Let’s try to find out.

There is value to sales coaching and training. Most companies will coach and train their reps to achieve higher levels of performance. But, which works better? Are there times when one is a better choice than the other? Is there even a difference? Let’s try and find out.

Sales training

Sales training happens when a trainer teaches a salesperson on how to perform a specific task (or a collection of tasks) in the sales arena. With sales training, the focus is on learning. The trainer will show you the right way to do something, which you will be expected to remember and take with you into the future. While sales training can be interactive, it’s typically more of a one-way street.

Sales training is great for newcomers to the world of sales. Training is the way to help new reps learn the right sales skills before they hit the phones. It’s a quick, effective way for getting the basics across. It can also help keep individual team members on the same page, with opening lines, objection handling etc.

However, for more complex sales skills, training may not be the best course of action.

Sales coaching

If sales training is when a trainer tells you the best way to do something, sales coaching is when you are allowed to discover the answer for yourself. In sales coaching, the coach creates a safe environment for you to experiment and find your own voice. A sales coach is a great listener and will ask the right questions. They do not have to have walked the walk in sales.

Coaching is the most effective way for reps to refine their skills, to achieve continuous improvement.

Why coaching?

The most successful organisations will mix training and coaching but will weight it towards coaching. Also, they don’t stop coaching. Even leaders will go for coaching sessions.

Coaching is more personal, focused on the specific needs of the individual. If a rep struggles with a particular part of the sales process, such as building rapport or asking for the deal, coaching can help them improve where it is needed. The discovery aspect of coaching helps reps retain knowledge better; information is less likely to go in one ear and out the other when you coach rather than train. Finally, there are so many different ways you can do coaching. One of our favourites is call coaching, when you go through sales conversations that an actual team member has had, and talk about where you could do better.

Coaching has so much value for salespeople. However, you don’t have to limit it to just your sales life. Coaching can help you improve in all areas of your life, from fitness to relationships to your career. If you haven’t tried coaching, do it now.

Over to you

Now, we want to know what you think.

What have you achieved through great coaching?

Are there any examples of when training was actually the best thing to do?

Share your stories with the Sales Confidence community with a comment below.

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