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July 10, 2018

Who’s Coaching the Coaches: Why Sales Leadership Training Often Fails?

Even the most talented coaches can benefit from more – or better – training.

Sales Coaching : Talking the Talk


Research shows that the quality and quantity of coaching has a profound impact on sales performance.

A CEB study of over 2,000 sales managers found that going from low- to high-quality coaching improved sales performance by 17%. In terms of quantity, reps who receive significant amounts of coaching outperform those who don’t receive any coaching by 19%.

The vast majority of sales managers and senior executives identify coaching as an important function of a sales manager. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t provide adequate support for the development of managers’ sales coaching skills.

When it comes to “walking the walk” – vs. simply “talking the talk” – the results of a recent Star Training survey are typical. Although 94% of sales managers cited coaching as important or very important, only 53% of companies invest in ongoing coaching skills, and only 44% have an effective and well-understood coaching process.

Even more alarming, when researchers ask sales managers to rate their relative strengths and weaknesses, coaching usually ends up at the bottom of the list.

In other words, the skill that managers recognize as the most important to driving sales performance (coaching) is the skill they do least well.

Why Traditional Sales Training Fails

And the reasons for this aren’t limited to lack of time and money. The main one is an overreliance on traditional sales leadership training – the one or two-day classroom sessions conducted by external vendors or internal leadership trainers.

These classes may have exercises, role playing, some pre-work and maybe a few notes after the fact to remind you about key takeaways.

This is the traditional approach to training, and it often doesn’t work.

First, it’s just an event. There is no follow-up and no ongoing reinforcement. The only way to create skill mastery is ongoing reinforcement. Without this, 80% of what’s learned in the classroom will be forgotten in 30 days. If skills aren’t reinforced, they die.

Traditional approaches are also short on ongoing “coach coaching” and mentoring, as well as cadence and accountability to ensure that skills are widely implemented and mastered.

In order to get sales leaders to become good at what they do, they need more than training. They also need coaching, themselves. The mentors need to be mentored.

Until recently, this could be a costly, time-consuming proposition.  But thanks to innovative sales learning technologies and methodologies, however, sales leadership training can be far more cost-effective, and less labor intensive, than it once was.

In Part II of this series, we’ll see why and how modern learning technologies make sales managers better at coaching.


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