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Exploring Sales Coaching: What It Is and How To Start

Exploring Sales Coaching: What It Is and How To Start

Learn about sales coaching, what these professionals do, and who they help. Find out how to prepare yourself to become a sales coach.


You’ve probably heard the expression “Nothing sells itself.” It’s why sales teams are ever-growing — companies need them to share information effectively about their products and services. 

Anyone who runs a sales-based company understands this growth. They also realize that selling is challenging, draining work. And if their team is already working full steam, it may be difficult for business owners to imagine growing sales. 

This is where sales coaching comes in. Sales coaches empower sales representatives (or reps) and encourage them to take accountability for their performance. They can help entire sales teams or focus on an individual, suggesting tools and promoting skills that support both underperforming members and new sales leaders. When sales teams work more confidently and efficiently, business earnings and employee satisfaction rates increase

If you’re interested in business and enjoy helping people work smarter, not harder, consulting for companies as a sales coach might be for you. 

What is a sales coach?

Sales coaching is the practice of analyzing metrics to find out how to optimize a representative’s work and provide them with the tools and motivation needed to improve sales performance. Sales coaches teach and reinforce positive behaviors but don’t directly intervene in the process. Instead, they act as guides and motivators. 

While numbers are essential, hitting them isn’t a sales coach’s focus. Instead, coaches teach techniques, encourage accountability, and help reps identify roadblocks. 
Sales coaches are strategists. They assess a situation, draft a plan to improve it, and motivate the “players” to reach goals. More specifically, effective sales coaches:

  • Set goals for sales departments, teams, and individuals
  • Define action plans to help employees reach the goals set
  • Work with employees to change unproductive habits 
  • Define correlations between actions and results so employees can see how their work affects outcomes
  • Guide salespeople toward their own answers on why specific tactics may not be working
  • Figure out what motivates employees to take initiative and use incentives to nudge them toward their goals

Depending on what clients need, a coach will tailor their approach to action plan creation. But here are some things a sales coach may do to work toward the tasks listed above:

  • Practice role-play sales calls with reps to help them close deals
  • Check in with representatives on their progress and areas of opportunity
  • Attend and provide feedback on a rep’s client meeting
  • Shadow or listen to a rep's in-person sales conversations or phone calls with prospects
  • Read email and messaging interactions between agents and customers and identify areas of improvement
  • Run competency workshops to teach new sales skills and techniques

While coaches may consult on tactics and morale, they aren’t business consultants. Here are some activities sales coaches shouldn’t perform:

  • Tell sales reps precisely what to do
  • Analyze a business’s financial information and make a sales strategy
  • Give overarching advice to a sales team without knowing how individuals work
  • Overstep management advice

For these tasks, companies will need to find professionals in other fields for support.


What are the benefits of sales coaching?

Here are some examples of what a business can expect when working with a sales coach, which stem from each individual’s personal and professional development:

  • More consistent sales results 
  • Improved task follow-through 
  • A more developed skillset for every team member
  • More efficiently using resources 
  • Salesforce feeling empowered
  • Greater collaboration
  • Improved employee retention

How to become a sales coach

Sales coaching is valuable work. These motivators guide reps toward important professional goals and increase their value to their employers.

Convinced this is the career for you? Here are a few steps we recommend taking: 

1. Pursue an education: You may not be providing business consulting, but if you work with sales team members, you should understand their work. Consider getting a degree in sales, business, or marketing.

2. Attain a sales coaching certification: You don't need to get certified to practice as a sales coach, but this credential can boost your knowledge, resume, and authority with clients. Here are a few reputable sales coaching programs:

3. Gain experience: Nothing replaces hands-on experience. You could work as a sales representative while studying or network with successful professionals in your area, shadowing someone’s practice if possible. Gaining second-hand experience prepares you for client interactions and helps you understand the energy level and time this work entails.

4. Set up your business: Write a business plan that includes your mission, services, and prices. Define your methodology. Set financial and growth goals and consider any startup fees and overhead. Register your business, complying with state regulations. Start small, taking a manageable number of clients and scaling once you’re comfortable. 

The bottom line

The sales profession is all about performance. Reps have lofty goals and are likely prepared to put the work in to meet them. With your help, they can reach their full potential and high targets. 

The best sales teams use a comprehensive customer relationships management (CRM) system to provide seamless client communications — and you can too. Practice supports coaches by allowing them to store client data, send messages and documents, and receive secure payments in one place. Plus, you’ll gain resources such as coaching session worksheets and standard templates. Try it today.

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