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7 Sales Coaching Best Practices

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Oct 27, 2023

If you are in charge of managing a sales team to reach sales goals, you must ask yourself this critical question; “Am I an effective sales coach?” 

Much like a good sports coach, a good sales coach gets involved in all aspects of the job, including both the selling skills and the mental state of his or her salespeople. Certainly, the coach trains, develops and mentors their salespeople to become better at the role of selling. But the most important role of the sales coach is to help their salespeople achieve their personal goals. To achieve their goals, salespeople need both skill and knowledge – and someone to coach them to excellence. How good are you at coaching your salespeople to be their very best?

Here are 7 sales coaching best practices to master to improve your coaching:

 #1 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Debrief Effectively

An effective and proactive coach is in a constant state of debriefing their people. Whether their salespeople are returning from an initial appointment with a new client, presenting a solution to a new client, or renewing a current relationship, a coach must constantly have real time intel as to how the salesperson is performing. One sales coaching best practice is to have regularly scheduled debriefing times in their ideal week calendar. During the sessions, the effective sales coach will be armed with great questions to find out what happened, how things happened, and why they happened. Questions about the prospect’s compelling reason to take action, their willingness to invest, their ability to make a change from a current provider and the decision-making process are the questions that must be asked in addition to the technical aspect of the sale relative to product and service offerings. Based on the answers, the sales coach must begin to develop insight as to where the choke points are in a salesperson’s approach in order to coach them for skill improvement. 

#2 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Effective on Joint Calls

While on a joint call, there are roles for everyone. That is why doing pre-call meetings, before the meeting are so important. The sales coach has to make sure that his salesperson is prepared to conduct the perfect sales meeting and the coach’s role is to be defined as supportive in nature, not the main character. This means that when the coach is on the call and the sales professional is making mistakes, they must let them. and oddly, this is a sales coaching best practice.  An effective coach will not rescue them as they understand that is how they will learn.  Now a good coach will not let them blow the sale of a life time.  But they will not bail them out and rescue them when they forget to ask a critical question.  Once the call is over, the sales coach conducts the post call debrief with the sales person. The effective coach will first ask their sales person to tell them how they thought it went.  The coach can then compare comments made to their own observations and from that, share their insights as to how well the sales professional performed. 

#3 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Ask Quality Questions

Having a conversation with someone is much more pleasant then going through an interrogation.  This is important for the effective coach to remember if they are focused on asking questions.  After two or so questions, the sales person is going to feel like the coach is picking on them rather than coaching them to improve. Let’s say that a sales person has a tendency to miss finding out about the competition. The coach could ask them: “Did you find out about the competition?” or they could ask “When you asked them how they were going to undo the current relationship, how did they respond?” Which question is going to give better insight as to how the salesperson is executing on their sales system? Open-ended questions tend to make coaching sessions more conversational which why they are a sales coaching best practice. The open-ended questions will help the sales person identify the gaps between what is expected and what is getting done. 

#4 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Demonstrates an Effective Selling System

Great sales coaches really know their sales process and selling system. They know it so well that they own the content and process. The sales leader exhibits the sales skills expected of the sales team in everything they do. They ask open-ended questions. They help people discover the issues. They make sure that the other person wants to fix the problem. They check for the ability to invest time to fix the problem, and finally, they get commitment. An effective sales coach must demonstrate what they expect. This mastery of the system is what allows the coach to identify incorrect behavior when they observe their salespeople in a prospecting situation or role-playing session with peers. If the sales coach does not know, then you can’t possibly expect their salespeople to know.

#5 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Effective at Getting Commitments

Gaining commitment is a sales coaching best practice for the on-going development and improvement in a sales team. Even with top producers, a sales coach must gain their commitment to execute at high levels and discuss with them their personal goals, and their commitment to attain those goals, through committing to the required sales activities. Sales people commit to what is important to them. It may be important to salespeople that shareholder value increases, but as a sales coach, don’t count on that. What motivates most salespeople is their own set of personal objectives, goals and ambitions. The coach’s job is to help them discover the goals they are committed to and then help them discover their ‘current state’. And when there is a gap, (such as their current sales pipeline and closing ratio will not help them buy that new house they were hoping for), then an effective coach helps them discover the ‘pain’ of the eventual outcome of their current state and the change that must take place to achieve their goals.

#6 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Consistently Coach Skills & Behaviors

Most sales coaches do not understand the difference between performance management (discussing the sales activities, i.e.; the numbers) and coaching (how the activities are being executed). Coaching focuses on how someone did what they did. Every sales leader’s calendar should have consistent scheduled times for coaching their people. Effective coaching focuses on skills and behaviors, the how of what people do. Sales coaching should include the following:  asking questions, drilling down on those answers, getting commitments, helping salespeople overcome objections and helping salespeople with their own performance issues. Coaching is not about how to structure a deal. That is teaching. Coaching is rolling up the sleeves and getting into the art and science of the sale, rather than the mechanics of the product and service design of the offering.

#7 Sales Coaching Best Practice: Effectively On-board New Hires

On-boarding a new salesperson is critical as it will determine both the immediate and long-term success of new hires. Here are three sales coaching best practice on-boarding steps:

  1. The sales coach must communicate their vision, objectives and expectations to the extent that if the salesperson was asked, they could repeat without hesitation and in great detail.
  2. The sales coach must schedule weekly coaching sessions with their new hires to help them create and execute on their plan and learn, implement and inspect their effective selling process.
  3. An effective coach can use their huddle data, pipeline growth and notes from pre- and post-call debriefing sessions to see if their new hire is exceeding activity and behavior expectations.  From that critical early data, they can begin to identify and teach and coach to the salesperson’s choke points.

Our coaching tip for you, the coach, is to select at least 3 of these sales coaching best practices and focus on them, improve your own skills and by doing so, you will help your salespeople improve their levels of performance. Let’s go, Coach!


Need Help?  Check Out Our Sales Growth  Coaching Program for Managers!



Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, sales coaching best practices

Effective Sales Coaching: The Game of Selling

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 22, 2023

Years ago, one of the lead execs from our client KeyBank shared an article called, “What it takes to be a Coach”. It began with: You must understand the game.

Many leaders do not understand that the ‘game’ is the game of selling.  Managers and internal trainers must really understand the game of selling.  It takes strapping a headset on, making hundreds of dials, asking for introductions, getting rejected, selling big cases and starting with small sales, to really understand the game.  Otherwise, it is like taking flying lessons from a pilot trainer that did all their flight learning in a simulator.

Most sales managers end up in that role because they were good to great salespeople and the company was looking to:

  1. Replace a manager
  2. Find a way for professional advancement
  3. Look for a way to keep a salesperson that is slowing down and has a ‘book’ of business

Rarely if ever does that person go through an intense, fully integrated sales management training development program to help them effectively execute the required skills of an effective coach. Nor do they have a good handle on “what” to do; the sales coaching best practices. The 7 critical coaching competencies from Objective Management Group, our sales evaluation partner and pioneer in the industry, are listed below. How effective are your sales leaders at executing these activities?

Screenshot 2023-09-22 at 2.48.22 PM

Peter Jensen is an Olympic coach from Canada and author of the book “The Third Factor”. Peter states that first two factors for success in anything are nature and nurture. The Third Factor, specific to coaching, is: You must have a coaching bias.

A strong sales leader must have the coaching bias and they must love to coach the game of selling.  They must have a love for seeing and hearing people develop into the best versions of themselves.  That is what it takes to be successful at coaching.  It must be about helping others gain the spotlight, success and financial rewards or a job well done.  It requires sacrificing ego and the need to be right for the other person to discover their path, develop their skills and become the expert.

The challenge for most sales managers or sales leaders is to have the ability to exhibit and execute these skills of being a strong leader:  Strong identity, self-assurance, credible authority, knowledge and a foundational vision, mission and goal orientation.  Strong leaders do not need to be in the spotlight, do not act like they know it all and ask questions instead of always providing answers. These are the important sales coaching best practices that drive effective sales coaching.

There are assessments in the marketplace to help people identify if they have what it takes.  We use Objective Management Group’s Sales Manager Insights Evaluation.  Three key findings are identified and scored:

  1. The Will to Manage
  2. The Sales Manager Sales DNA
  3. The Sales Manager Tactical Competencies

The evaluation provides an index percentage that tells the evaluated sales manager how they rank against others who have taken the evaluation.  Our 30+ history has verified that most sales managers have less than 10% of the skills needed to be an effective sales coach.

In summary, most companies with a manager level in their organization fail to get their salespeople to perform for one of the following reasons:

  • The manager doesn’t have what it takes- the skills to be effective at sales coaching
  • The manager doesn’t take the time or doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle the job, maintain a book of business, take care of operations and anything else that might be in the job description
  • There isn’t a consistent ‘Sales Managed Environment’ to execute to so day in and day out, it’s an inconsistent coaching process.

Do your sales leaders understand the game of selling and have the coaching bias that can make them and effective coach?

Need Help?  Check Out Our Sales Growth  Coaching Program for Managers!



Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, effective sales coaching program

Building an Effective Sales Coaching Program in a High-Tech World

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Aug 30, 2023

To compete in the marketplace today, companies must first, identify the sales coaching needs of their managers and the strengths and weaknesses of the salespeople they coach. We know that in order to differentiate in business today, salespeople must be consultative, have great interactions with clients, provide solutions that solve their problems, and also create revenue for the company. Their sales coaches play a large part in their success.

How does a company create an effective sales coaching program? Experience tells us that most companies are good at setting sales goals and measuring results, but the statistics around frequent, one on one coaching tell a different story.


Weaknesses of Sales Managers as Coaches

Let’s look at the weaknesses of most managers as coaches:

  • Do not consistently coach and debrief.
  • Ineffective at joint sales calls.
  • Do not ask questions.
  • Have a need for approval from salespeople.
  • Rescue salespeople.
  • Do not have a sales process.
  • Ineffective at commitments.
  • Beliefs do not support coaching.
  • Do not have goals and a plan.
  • Do not know what motivates salespeople.

Less than two percent of managers are adept at identifying sales coaching needs and coaching those needs. There are many reasons for this, but among them are: they themselves were not coached or they had a bad experience with coaching; they were elevated to a team lead or manager position based on their sales success and not their coaching performance; and they have not had any coaching training, either formal or informal.

There are some simple, concrete steps managers can take to initiate an effective sales coaching program. It begins with managers developing an understanding of what motivates their salespeople. Less than seven percent of sales managers know the personal goals for their people. Since most salespersons today are intrinsically versus extrinsically motivated, this is key in the manager-salesperson relationship as well as the salesperson-client relationship. 

Effective coaching occurs when a manager is proactively asking questions of their team members, giving feedback on a regular basis, and showing a genuine interest in the development of the salesperson.


Successful Sales Managers Should

To get started, managers should:

  1. Set time aside for a personal goal discussion

This should be done in-person or via a video conference call so that there is eye “contact.” Salespeople are motivated first by their personal goals. The goal is the find out what drives the producer and what is important to them. Encourage them to dream big and free think about their life goals, including family and personal aspirations. No goal should be too big or too small. After that, goals should be translated into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based) goals.   

  1. Set Professional Goals

Begin by asking the salesperson to consider how meeting their professional goals can help them reach their personal goals. Working with the salesperson, set professional goals that not only include targets for sales, cross-sell, and retention, but also what the salesperson has shared is important to them.

  1. Set weekly check-ins

Establish a rhythm for follow-up and discussion about both the salesperson’s personal and professional goals. These check-ins should include managing activities identified in the plan, holding salespersons accountable to activity levels, helping to identify choke points, coaching how they are doing what they do, and asking for the opportunity to observe sales calls and encouraging de-briefs.

Developing an effective sales coaching program is ultimately about developing a meaningful human connection, a relationship. This has to begin with the sales manager and the salesperson before it can translate into a salesperson and client relationship. When this is accomplished—and it’s not a one and done proposition, but an art that requires regular attention—companies can develop a service to sales career path for its salespeople that leads to success for all.    

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Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, identifying sales coaching needs, effective sales coaching program

Elevate Your Bank's Performance with One-on-One Sales Coaching

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 11, 2023

In the fast-paced world of banking sales, staying ahead of the competition requires continuous improvement. While group training sessions have many benefits, there's no denying the unique benefits of personalized one-on-one sales coaching. With over 30 years of experience working with banks, we have found that tailored coaching can be the key to unlocking your team's full potential.

Advantages of One-on-One Sales Coaching

  1. Customized Learning Experience: One-on-one coaching allows for a highly personalized learning experience. No two banking sales professionals are the same, and their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles can vary widely. Your coaches need to take the time to understand each individual's unique traits and tailor their coaching approach accordingly. This personalized attention leads to faster skill development and better retention.

  2. Targeted Skill Enhancement: Group training sessions often cover a wider range of topics, some of which may not be directly relevant to every team member. One-on-one coaching enables a laser-focused approach, targeting the specific skills that need improvement. One-on one-coaching allows sales leaders to help refine prospecting techniques, perfect consultative selling, or enhance negotiation skills for the individual.

  3. Immediate Feedback: One of the most significant advantages of one-on-one coaching is the instant feedback loop it establishes. As bankers work on their pre-call strategies, coaches can provide immediate feedback on their approach, helping them make necessary adjustments on the spot. This real-time guidance accelerates skill mastery and builds confidence.

  4. Confidence Boost: Banking sales can be demanding, and confidence plays a crucial role in success. One-on-one coaching fosters a safe environment for salespeople to practice new techniques, role-play challenging situations, and receive constructive feedback. With increased confidence in their abilities, your team members will approach each interaction with clients more assuredly, leading to improved results.

  5. Accountability and Goal Setting: Accountability is essential for consistent growth. One-on-one coaching allows your coaches to work closely with their RMs to set actionable goals and track progress. Regular check-ins ensure that goals are met and challenges are addressed promptly. This accountability-driven approach keeps the momentum going and empowers your team to strive for continuous improvement.

  6. Adaptability to Change: The banking landscape is dynamic, with market trends and customer preferences constantly evolving. One-on-one coaching equips your team to adapt quickly to these changes. Coaches help individuals stay updated with the latest industry insights, competitor analysis, and market shifts, ensuring that your team remains agile and competitive.

    In the world of banking sales, where every interaction can make a significant impact, investing in one-on-one sales coaching is a strategic move that yields substantial returns. At Anthony Cole Training Group, we leverage our 30 years of industry experience to provide tailored coaching solutions that elevate your team's performance. Let us know if we can help your bank.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach


Elevate Your Bank's Performance with One-on-One Sales Coaching


Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, one-on-one sales coaching

7 Activities for Your Sales Team Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 04, 2023

In analyzing those salespeople who are successful year after year, we have found significant consistencies in behavior, sales skills, and practice management. We call these The 7 Activities for Sales Success. If your sales team can adopt these 7 habits, you will be amazed at how your sales will improve.

  1. The ONLY “A” priority is prospecting. Successful salespeople service accounts just like everyone else. They also have“fires” to extinguish and meetings to attend. But they let nothing get in the way of consistent prospecting. They don’t have to like prospecting; they just have to do it. Of course, if your salespeople learn to like prospecting, they will do more of it. A sales leader’s coaching of this important sales behavior is also critical for success.

  2. Don’t look, act or sound like every other salesperson calling on the prospect. Create a unique approach – your salespeople can’t just say that they are different. They must also demonstrate it. As sales leader, if you were the prospect, would you take their call? If not, then their approach needs some work.

  3. Have an ideal prospect profile and look for candidates that fit this profile. You can help your salespeople do this by evaluating their best clients. Are their best customers typically Fortune 500 size or small family-owned companies? Are they regionally based, national, or are they local? Do they have thousands of employees? Are they retail organizations? , etc. Your salespeople must know who they are targeting.

  4. Successful prospectors understand that the purpose of a call is to set an appointment with a qualified candidate. Your salespeople must stop seeing everyone and anyone who will see them. They must make sure the prospect qualifies to do business prior to setting an appointment. They also must stop selling on the phone.

  5. The quality of the phone call determines the quality of the appointment. The goal, while on the phone, is to identify if the prospect has a problem that can be solved. First, they must establish that the prospect would like to fix the problem. Even though the prospect may identify a “problem” on the phone, this isn’t typically the real problem. Your salespeople must ask questions like “Why is that a problem?” and “How much is the problem costing you?”
  1. Prospects want to meet professionals through introductions, not cold calls. Help your producers learn how to ask for introductions from their COIs and current clients as their first prospecting strategy. This is a proven practice of “elite” producers.

  2. “Drill down” past the pain or problem indicators (symptoms). Here are a series of questions to provide and help your salespeople get past the initial symptoms that a prospect will verbalize:

    • Tell me…
    • How long has this been a problem?
    • What have you done…?
    • When you spoke with…?
    • What has your current provider done to make this problem go away?
    • What happens if you don’t fix…?
    • How much is it costing…?
    • Is that a problem?
    • Do you want to or have to fix it?

As sales leader and coach, you must track their activity and look for ways to coach and improve revenue by improving technique. For instance, your salesperson may be great at getting a first meeting, but not adept at uncovering real opportunities. There is your area to coach them. If you track these vital numbers, you can start to improve the areas where they fall short.

Review The 7 Activities for Sales Success with your sales team and ask them which sales skill or habit is most important today andfor the next 30 days. Then have them commit to adopting or changing that one behavior or practice and track their success.

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Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips


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    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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