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Deal Coaching Vs Skill Coaching: What’s the Difference?

5 minutes read

As a sales manager, you have the responsibility of uplifting your sales team. From their initial onboarding days to the ongoing training and coaching, to the regular performance assessments, you do a lot to equip your team with the skills that they need to succeed in their career.

One of the popular and best ways to uplift your team is to provide consistent and effective coaching to them. This effective coaching can help improve your team’s win rates by 27% or more.

But did you know that your sales coaching can be broadly categorized into,

  • Deal coaching
  • And skill Coaching

While skill coaching focuses on developing ideal skills and behaviors amongst sales reps, deal coaching focuses on imparting knowledge of strategy and execution while the sales rep is about to close a deals

In this blog, you are going to know more about

  • The deal coaching
  • The skill coaching
  • How are these two different?
  • And which coaching should you use more often?


Deal Coaching: Working to advance buyers through the pipeline

Deal coaching is primarily about coaching the reps on how to close the deal with a particular target account. It focuses on buyers and what resources are needed to engage them and move them further along the sales funnel. While typically unstructured, these sessions help reps work through specific deals in their pipeline for more immediate impact.

The goal of deal coaching is to

  • Remove stalled or unqualified deals
  • Adjust efforts toward real opportunities
  • And strategize how to tackle those opportunities

In deal coaching sessions, managers need to raise questions like:

  • What is this buyer’s business need?
  • What unique value does our solution bring to this buyer?
  • Who are the decision-makers?
  • What objections (if any) have there been thus far?
  • Who are we competing against for this buyer’s business?

By answering these questions together, the manager and the rep can together come up with the best plan of attack. They can determine what content and approach will be most relevant and drives the deal to close. And while this method may improve a single interaction with a buyer, its benefits tend to be temporary.


Skill Coaching: Developing specific skills and competencies amongst sales reps

In contrast to deal coaching which focuses on buyers, skill coaching focuses on the sellers themselves. Rather than walking through individual deals, its objective is to develop the knowledge and behaviors that are most critical for reps’ success.

These may differ from one organization to another, but the following are the most common skills we see amongst top-performing salespeople:

  • Time management: Assessing tasks and prioritizing them
  • Storytelling: Capturing buyers’ attention and keeping them engaged throughout the sales cycle
  • Communication: Effectively express the business value to address buyer needs
  • listening: Tuning into buyer challenges to adequately address them Obstacle and objection handling: Managing and mitigating buyer hesitation and/or doubts
  • Aligning to buyer needs: Understanding customer pain points and how your solution helps to solve them

Skill coaching is an ongoing effort. It is all about,

  • Promoting the professional development of each individual in your team
  • Providing them with continuous learning opportunities through coaching and knowledge reinforcement
  • Evaluating their performance from time to time to uncover knowledge/ skill gaps amongst reps and provide further coaching to close those gaps


Which coaching method should you use more often?

With the limited time that the managers have to coach their reps, it’s often a question of whether to coach them to close a deal or improve their skills.

Deal coaching is advantageous in the short term. For instance, let’s say that one of your sales reps has got a meeting with a high-profile buyer. In this case, leaving your reps to prepare for the meeting by referring to some learning material is not good enough. You need to make sure that you offer specific and timely coaching that helps the seller to,

  • Carry out the meeting efficiently
  • Make a good first impression
  • And progress the buyer through the pipeline to ultimately close the deal

On the other hand, skill coaching is a longer game. Here you’ll be coaching your sellers through skill gaps to better position them down the road so they’re able to navigate deals more effectively and, ultimately, close them. Although this long-term method requires consistency and patience, working on the high-level abilities ultimately pays off well.

Now when it comes to the question of which coaching method to use more, we would suggest that you do the skill coaching on a regular basis. And take up deal coaching as and when the situation arises (Meaning when your rep needs help dealing with a particular client)

Because let’s say you want to teach someone to rock climb. It’s not just enough to prepare them to climb what is in front of them. You need to help them master the basics of rock climbing so that they can independently climb any difficult structure in the future.

Also, the manager who invests time and efforts towards the professional growth of his team garners great respect and loyalty from his team members and stands as a true mentor before them.


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Published on Tue Nov 2 2021

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