How many times have you tried to make sales coaching work for your team…only to suddenly realize you’re doing the same old thing weeks or months later?  Don’t old habits die hard?

Have you tried sales coaching before, and found that it didn’t do a thing? Sales coaching does work. You just have to do it the right way.

Why Does so Much Sales Coaching Fail Anyway?

According to a Forbes article by Scott Edinger, himself a successful coach who’s worked with the likes of AT&T, Harvard Business Publishing, and The Los Angeles Times, it’s primarily an issue of priorities. Senior leadership wants to hear that numbers are being met and improving. So, most sales managers focus their time on reporting and analysis.

The underlying belief here, according to Edinger, is that increased scrutiny will lead to better results. Really, he says, your sales manager should spend the brunt of their time developing sales talent so they have the ability to close more sales.

How Do You Make Sales Coaching Work?

It’s actually relatively simple. All you need is a shift in your approach. Here’s what to do:

1. Ask, Don’t Tell

Many sales managers get promoted to their position by being amazing reps. That’s a big mistake! Selling, and teaching others how to sell, are two completely different skillsets.

Most new sales managers will tell other team members what to do. And that will most likely be what they used to do. Effective sales coaches work with team members one-on-one, and ask questions to identify what they do that works and what doesn’t. Then they help those team members do more of the former, and less of the latter.

2. Reinforce Team Members for Doing What Works

Neil Rackham, a leading expert on consultative selling, did a study and found sales team members stop using 87% of what they learn. Why does this happen?

For one thing, no coaching. For another, no reinforcement. Ask any psychologist on how to most effectively (and permanently) shape human behavior, and they’ll tell you the best way is to reinforce desirable behaviors.

The best way to do that is to create an individual plan for recognition with each sales team member. Some employees may want lots of verbal praise. Others may like public recognition. And they all might want a monetary bonus, or more vacation time. They always like to know the bottom line impact they made for your business.

Companies Who Get This Will Dominate Their Niche

Remember, in any aspect of business, what you instinctively first think of usually doesn’t work. So however you’ve been doing sales coaching, consider changing your approach based on what you just learned. Decades of experience from recognized experts, after all, back these findings!