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Delivering Innovative coaching programs in 2021

6 minutes read

We often think of 2020 as the year that changed everything. But if we really think about it, 2020 was also the year when we have become more creative and innovative in the process of adapting to the changes of the new normal.

We have found innovative ways to,

  • Work virtually

  • Sell virtually

  • Buy virtually

  • Hold meetings virtually

  • Communicate and collaborate with our colleagues virtually

  • And conduct training virtually

But there is one crucial aspect of the sales training that needs an innovative approach in order to make it effective for the salespeople during this crisis. It is sales coaching.

This blog explains how you can adopt an innovative approach to coach your sales team in 2021.

1. Make it goal-driven

In today’s virtual world when there are time constraints for both managers and reps, it’s crucial that you establish a central goal and conduct coaching around it. Based on your business priorities, you can choose short-term or long-term goals for coaching.

For example,

  • Before a new product launch, your coaching goal can be to improve your reps’ new products selling skills
  • And in regular times you can focus your coaching on
  • Preparing the reps to fill the sales pipeline with more leads
  • Or training them to convert leads in the pipeline

This helps in giving a focus and direction to your coaching

2. Keep it relevant to the current scenario

The onset of the pandemic in the year 2020 has brought about a lot of changes in selling and buying behaviors. So your coaching needs to reflect these changes in order to prepare your reps for the challenges of today.

Your coaching should,

  • Prepare your reps on the sales strategies and approaches that work in the current scenario
  • Explain to them about the shift in the buying cycle and how they can adapt their selling to it
  • Help them get their messaging right (to suit the current situation)
  • Get them to adopt the etiquettes of the virtual sales meetings
  • Get them to inculcate empathy in their selling

3. Combine various coaching techniques

Now that the one-on-one meetings have become few and far in between, we need to think of creative ways to make our virtual sales coaching effective in this remote work environment.

Coaching could take many forms and shapes. Using a combination of various coaching techniques is highly beneficial in today’s trying times.

Here are different coaching techniques that you can use to effectively coach your team virtually

Video coaching: This is the kind of coaching where you present a sales scenario to your reps and ask them to record a video in response to it. You can give them scenarios like,

  • Pitch a particular product explaining all its features and benefits
  • Overcome price objection of a product from the customer
  • Explain to the customer in a convincing way why he/she should choose your product over your competitor’s product

Once they record the response video and submit it– you get to review it, give a score and provide feedback for improvement. This coaching technique can be used more frequently as it consumes very little time for both reps and managers.

Call Reviews: This is the technique where managers conduct call reviews of the reps and identify their areas of improvement. Managers, then coach these reps to help them improve in those areas in their one-on-one sessions.

Virtual Role-Play: In this coaching technique, managers gather a group of reps in a virtual call and conduct role-play. The manager gives a particular sales scenario to the reps. Then one of the reps acts as the customer and another as the sales rep and they enact the sales conversation between them. This technique facilitates socializing and peer-to-peer learning in this remote work environment.

Virtual one-on-one sessions: In this coaching technique, the manager virtually connects with each sales rep in his team individually and,

  • Discusses their performance

  • Discusses their challenges

  • And provide personalized coaching to close their skill gap

Use a combination of all these techniques. Like you can conduct,

  • Video coaching once every 15 days

  • Virtual role-play sessions once every month

  • And call reviews and one-on-one sessions once every month

This makes for a 360-degree coaching program which will be much more effective and useful for your reps during the time of this crisis.

4. Keep it Flexible

The work-from-home scenario has blurred the line between the personal life and work-life of many employees. People are already struggling to strike a balance between the both. At a time like this, you want to make sure that you are not holding your coaching sessions at an unfavorable time for your employees (or for you).

So, have a word with your reps before you schedule the one-on-one coaching sessions or the role-play sessions. Fix a time that works for everyone involved. This makes it easy for everybody to dedicate that time entirely for the coaching without having any distractions.

5. Personalize Coaching

After the pandemic hit the world, we have seen a sharp shift in the

  • Selling and purchasing behaviors

  • And buying cycle

So what your reps need right now more than ever before is personalized attention and coaching from you.

In your one-on-one coaching sessions, ask them

  • If they are stuck with any deal
  • If they have difficulty overcoming any specific objection
  • What is the most difficult sales situation that they have encountered in their virtual selling experience?
  • Is there any specific area that they want help in?

Then personalize your coaching to suit their learning needs. This helps them to overcome challenges and succeed in the time of this crisis.

6. Gamify coaching

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. But I’m sure you don’t want to let your team become dull, do you?

Avoid this by gamifying your coaching. Make it fun and engaging for your team.

Here’s how to do that:

  • In video coaching, select the reps who have submitted impressive videos and reward them with exciting prizes.

  • Give out prizes to the reps who perform well in the role-play sessions

  • When you coach your reps to drive a particular behavioral change, monitor their performance and see if they have implemented that behavioral change perfectly. Rewards everyone who successfully adopts and implements that change.

This helps in,

  • Engaging your reps effectively in the coaching

  • Driving desired behavioral change successfully

  • Making coaching fun and exciting

7. Collect Feedback

The success of your coaching efforts is determined by the satisfaction levels of your reps. They are the right ones to tell you if your coaching is helping them or not. So ask them every now and then to give feedback on your coaching. This helps you to assess your coaching programs, identify if there are any shortcomings, and make improvements.

Learn how trainers can save time by incorporating automated AI role-plays into their sales training programs.

Read: SmartWinnr Neo AI | AI Powered Sales Coaching

Looking for sales coaching playbooks?

Sales Coaching Playbook Part 1 - Competency Framework

Sales Coaching PlayBook Part 2 - Training the Managers to Coach

Sales Coaching Playbook Part 3- How to Measure Success of Coaching

Want to know how to create a culture of coaching with an impact at your organization?

Read: Creating a Sales Coaching Culture with Impact

Want to know the best practices to drive video coaching?

Read: Best Practices to Drive Video Coaching

Want to learn how to coach your salespeople into sales champions?

Read: How to coach your salespeople into sales champions

Published on Mon Apr 26 2021

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