Sales Training vs. Sales Coaching: What’s the Difference

There are no bad salespeople, only bad coaches.

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Sales training and sales coaching are essential parts of a successful sales enablement plan. While sales training focuses on equipping new salespeople with the foundational knowledge to start selling, sales coaching takes a step further to empower them and help them maximize their productivity.

In this article, let’s take a deeper look at sales training and sales coaching and how you can start implementing these sales enablement strategies for your sales team.

What Is Sales Training?

Sales training refers to training new sales reps. It aims to help reps understand products, get familiar with new technologies, and learn the selling skills needed to do their jobs.

Why Is Sales Training Important?

Sales training is crucial because it ensures new reps know what they need to do, who they should target, and how to close deals. It allows them to grow confident in their abilities, gets them up to speed, and helps your business maintain a consistent standard of sales interactions.

What Is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching empowers sales reps to sell better, close more deals, and exceed their quota. It focuses on helping reps identify their strengths and weaknesses and exploit what they do best.

Why Is Sales Coaching Important?

Sales leaders invest in sales coaching to maximize their reps’ productivity and grow business performance.

According to Forrester, “when sales enablement professionals effectively support tailored sales coaching conversations between coaches and reps, salespeople learn faster, converse more confidently with their customers, and achieve specific sales objectives, like gaining access to the right buyers or building a winning business case.”

Value Selling’s report also found that “over half (67%) of companies whose formal coaching program have been in place for at least three years have experienced high revenue growth. The most successful companies are catching on; over half of high-performing companies report using sales coaching more now than they did in the past.”

What Is the Difference Between Sales Training and Sales Coaching?

The difference between sales training and sales coaching is that sales training is often developed for new hires—it’s structured and less customized. Meanwhile, sales coaching is built for both new and existing sales reps, and it’s personalized to each person based on their experience and skill set.

When to Use Sales Training

Here are two common use cases for sales training:

  • Teach your sales team about a new product, service, or technology
  • Train new hires about product offerings, company culture, and sales process

When to Use Sales Coaching

Here are two common use cases for sales coaching:

  • Help a sales rep become more effective in making sales calls and negotiating with clients
  • Coach a sales rep about upselling products to existing clients and turning them into brand advocates

Sales Coaches vs. Sales Trainers

A sales trainer is responsible for teaching reps about product knowledge, new tools, new policies, new sales methodologies, etc. They deliver the information to a group of people, not in one-to-one settings.

On the contrary, a sales coach works directly with each sales rep to understand the rep better and help them improve their weakness as well as harness their strengths. Because of this, a sales coach’s skill set is typically different from that of a sales trainer.

Does Your Sales Team Need to Use Both, and When?

A short answer is yes! You should provide your sales reps with sales training and sales coaching programs to help them achieve optimal sales performance. However, you don’t need to implement these methods at once. Do training first and then execute coaching based on what your team needs most.

How to Make Both Sales Coaching and Training Effective for Your Sales Team?

Here are two tips to help you get started with sales coaching and sales training:

1. Be Clear About Your Sales Training Intention

To build a strong sales training program, first, you need to determine what will be learned, who will be joined, and how it will be delivered.

Is it product knowledge or technical training? Is it only for sales reps or do marketing and account teams also need to join? What type of content format should you use? Will there be videos, presentations, a Q&A section, live streaming, etc.? The clearer your training program, the easier for you to implement it.

2. Use Sales Coaching Software

Sales coaching software like Revenue Grid is a must-have for your sales coaching strategy to be successful. Why? Because it gives you valuable insights into your rep’s performance and productivity to develop an effective sales coaching program tailored to that rep.

For example, Revenue Grid Team Analytics allows you to track sales activity, see the state of each rep’s forecasted pipeline, and find out what your top-performing reps are doing and which actions they spend the most time on. No more guesswork or inaccurate information. Revenue Grid provides you with exactly what you need to make the right decisions.

According to Phil Harrell, Forrester VP, Sr Research Director, “sales leaders must use insights to unearth each seller’s skill/knowledge gap.” He also adds that companies need to use sales coaching tools to “see where a seller’s ultimately won a deal or where it fell through and personalize coaching for that rep to address their specific weaknesses.”

Your sales coaching program works only if you have a deep understanding of your rep’s capacities—and this can be achieved by using tools like Revenue Grid.

Develop your sales coaching program with Revenue Grid

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