What’s the Difference Between Sales Training and Sales Coaching?

by | Jul 4, 2022 | Sales Techniques | 0 comments

There is a lot of ego in sales, but sales reps believe every day is “school day.” There’s a continuous desire to improve and seek more knowledge to skyrocket sales performance. When it seems like a sales rep has plateaued, he runs after training and coaching programs that promise to help him beat his best number.

Unfortunately, sales training and sales coaching are two different terms, even though they’re used interchangeably. Knowing what to expect from these programs and the nuances involved saves you the trouble of investing thousands of dollars in the wrong program.

To help you make the right choice, we’ve put together a detailed guide that dissects the key differences between both programs and how to choose the right ones that align with chosen areas for improvement.

What’s Sales Training?

Sales training differs from coaching programs in their delivery and knowledge provided. A sales training is designed to help sales professionals understand their business’s basic needs – Customer pain points, product features, and value proposition.

Most training is delivered based on the company’s sales methodology, which would have been tested and proven to enable the company hit its revenue goal. Hence, you need the training to ramp up new reps and achieve sales readiness in 3 months or less.

Due to their short duration, most sales training is delivered via books, podcasts, or over the internet.

What’s Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching is a specific program tailored to the rep’s strengths and weaknesses. A coach will typically leverage data to monitor a rep’s performance to identify areas that need improvement. Further plans will help the rep build confidence by providing the right tools and skills.

Sales coaching is more like a conversation rather than a one-fit-all solution. This means sitting down with your coach to discuss your needs and areas they can help with: Prospecting, closing, negotiations, follow-up, cold emailing, or retention.

It’s typically made up of recorded one-hour sessions based on video calls, where clients discuss results and receive feedback. Ideally, a Sales Manager is the best choice for sales coaching, but that’s difficult because Managers in most sales organizations are expected to hire, fire, and set quotas for team members. Getting them to agree to a one-on-one session where reps openly discuss their strengths and weaknesses is difficult.

Advantages of Sales Training

Contrary to popular thoughts, great Salesmen are not born; they’re trained. Despite having a low success rate, effective sales training helps a rep develop their selling abilities which helps improve their close rate.

Some of the biggest advantages of a sales training include:

#1 Shortened Sales Ramp Time

Sales training allows new reps to understand the company’s sales process. This provides a framework for identifying, qualifying, and closing the right customers. Good sales training can help new hires exceed the industry’s average ramp time of 3 months.

#2 Helps with Sales Onboarding

People buy value, not products or services. Training presents a chance for a new rep to learn about the market – customer pain points, sales cycle, income, and hidden desire. This creates a path to build connection and trust that leads to a purchase.

#3 Huge Revenue Return

According to Taskdrive, the average return on sales training is $4.35 for every dollar spent. It’s understandable since a well-trained rep can help generate new leads and opportunities, which increases revenue.

Disadvantages of Sales Training

Sales training has earned a reputation for failing to deliver the effect Sales Managers want. Hence, most sales organizations are reluctant to enroll sales teams in training programs for the following reasons:

#1 YouTube Level Information

Most sales training offers some useful nugget, but 80% don’t add much value beyond what you get from free youtube videos. Several courses focus on certain methodologies that are nowhere useful to some trainees. As a result, they get the motivational aspect of sales rather than the practical part.

#2 Short-tern Effect on Sales Reps

Sales reps suffer from a “learn and forget” cycle 3 months after training ends. Hence, the impact of most sales training is short-lived.

#3 List of things to do, but no Instruction

Sales training can be descriptive: They mention a list of things to do but never provide specific steps on how to do them. For instance, a lot of training provides a list of information you need to define your ICP but don’t fill in the gaps on how to go about the market research

#4 A Disconnect Between Training and Reality

What’s taught in training and what happens in the real world when sales reps come face-to-face with clients for the first time are miles apart. The scripts don’t work, and some questions sound lame to clients. As a result, the reps abandon the strategies learned and fall back to what they previously did, even if it yields little return.

Advantages of Sales Coaching

Anyone can read a book and launch their training, but Sales Coaches are not made by accident. Most Coaches had to sell products themselves and are typically driven by their passion for the skill.

Here are the advantages of hiring a Coach who serves as a second pair of eyes in your sales journey:

#1 Overcomes Sales Struggles

Every sales rep gets to a point they feel they have plateaued; even new hires are beating their best numbers. It’s in that moment they become crippled by self-doubt and often require a Sales Coach to pull them out of their slumber.

While most coaching strives to be a one-fit-all pie, effective sales coaching focuses on improving a specific area of a rep’s sales game. It could be cold outreach, negotiating, relationship building, closing, or even beating their best return.

Remember, the sales skill you will learn from a Coach are paramount to life skills that will help you create a happier life, both personally and professionally.

#2 Provide Frameworks, not Scripts

While sales training provides you with scripts that serve as a guideline to help you stay on track during sales conversations, a coach provides you with a framework; this framework is usually one that brought them the most success in their industry.

An experienced sales person coaches a struggling rep on the cornerstone of sales, which includes building customer relationships, body tonality, showing empathy, providing a solution that addresses pain points, and making a difference rather than just chasing the sale

#3 Offers Feedback

A Sales Manager who doesn’t give feedback might feel like talking to a wall. A Sales Coach creates an environment that makes sales reps feel alive. In a Coach, you will have someone who can review your performance – the number of closed deals and leads generated, and give feedback on how to increase them to meet your goal.

Disadvantages of Sales Coaching

#1 Many Untrained Coaches

Most programs are headed by fresh out of coaching school peeps who promote themselves as coaches but haven’t held any role in sales or marketing. It’s usually a case of the “blind leading the blind.” They end up regurgitating best practices from sales videos and books on the internet.

#2 Not Specific to Industry

A lot of people choose Coaches without their industry knowledge. This is tricky because what works in B2C might not work for B2B. For example, even though Grant Cardone teaches various sales methods, they’re most useful to someone who sells products like cars and real estate. But, it might not be suitable for SaaS

#3. Usually Pricey

Sales reps who work in small-scale businesses have to foot the expenses of their coaching programs alone. Unfortunately, they might have to spend around $5000 to become a great salesperson since 1-1 coaching with an expert doesn’t come cheap.

How to Choose a Good Sales Training or Coaching Program

It’s 5X harder to choose a Sales Coach than a Sales Trainer. Most Coaches are failed reps who couldn’t hit their quota at their previous company. Notwithstanding, a good Coach can help finesse your performance, especially if they’re still a quota-carrying producer.

To ensure you spend every dollar wisely, here are a few things you should look out for in a Sales Coach:

#1 Industry Knowledge

Start by knowing the area of sales your ideal Coach excels in. If you’re looking to improve on cold email outreach, Coaches like Josh Braun will make a good choice, but if you need to get better at Prospecting and build rapport via sales calls, look into Josh Barrows of JB Sales.

#2 Proven Track record

Ensure you have someone who has done the job themselves. Sales enablement guys coaching sales professionals don’t sound absurd until you realize they’ve never sold anything in their industry. A safe bet is to stick with proven performers who have been in the trenches and not someone whose experience comes from reading books.

#3 Do they Prioritise Data?

For a Coach to deliver a performance-focused coaching experience, they need to connect and get to know you at a deeper level. This means collecting data on your current performance. This data will help them understand your current state and the heights you wish to achieve

#4 Social Proof

Your evaluation is never complete without looking into the Sales Coach’s technique and record. What’s their history with their previous clients? Do they have testimonials? And are they cool with you speaking to past clients? Answers to each of these questions help evaluate the quality of their coaching.

There are plenty of coaching and training programs, but the best trainers are usually within your company. Hiring an outsider to do sales coaching or training could be a wasteful effort since it would take the Coach time to under the product and market.

The bottom line is – whenever it is difficult to get someone within your company for coaching or training, your safest bet is someone with a proven track record in your industry and whose process is similar to the one practice in your company.

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Join the Early Adopter Program today to be part of a leading sales solution provider (limited spots available!), or grow your sales training business by becoming a Partner.

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