I often get questions from organizations about how to form and structure their sales enablement teams. Something that companies often overlook – and something I always suggest – is including an embedded sales coach, as a way to quickly and continuously bring value to the sales organization.
Depending on the company, this role goes by various names: a sales coach, a field coach or (as we call it at Brainshark) a sales readiness coach, to name a few. In short – having a sales coach on the employee roster helps make sure your reps are ready to successfully engage with buyers.
Here are some benefits of the role of an embedded sales coach, as well as what to consider when putting together a sales coach job description.
Benefits for Sales Reps
Before buyer meetings, it’s important that reps practice, practice, practice – so that they don’t practice on the customer. Sales coaches help drive purposeful practice, in both group and 1-on-1 settings – discussing tips and strategies with reps, relative to reps’ tasks at hand; engaging in role-plays; and using technology (such as Brainshark’s video coaching solution) to reinforce knowledge and skills, and drive mastery.
And when it’s “game time,” embedded sales coaches often sit in on calls and video meetings, and (pre-COVID) also participate in ride-alongs, to observe reps’ performance and debrief after.
Benefits for Managers
It’s a mistake to think that sales coaches are a replacement for managers, though. Coaching is still a key part of the manager’s job. But sales coaches are an added set of eyes, ears and support – often signaling to managers areas that their individual reps can improve on, and also reinforcing topics and skills at the manager’s request. Sales managers, especially now, have a lot on their plates, and having an embedded coach makes coaching more scalable.
Plus, sales coaches are – per their role – expert coaches. For many managers (especially newer ones, and those who were promoted as “star reps”), coaching may not be something that comes naturally. So in addition to aiding reps, sales coaches also help managers improve in their roles – modeling coaching behaviors to the managers, based on the organization’s philosophy, approach and methodology.
What to Include in a Sales Coach Job Description
Professional, embedded sales coaches often don’t start their careers on this path. Their proclivities and aptitudes tend to evolve over time – and as they mentor their peers, enjoy helping others, etc., they gravitate toward this role.
When developing a sales coach job description, consider candidates that:
Have walked in reps’ shoes. This is often important in gaining respect and buy-in from corporate leadership. Leaders often want to know that the coach has also “carried a bag” and met/exceeded quota, at a stage in their career.
Have mentorship or management experiences, and a genuine desire to help others achieve their goals.
Have experience implementing different coaching and sales methodologies and are versed in the methodologies that align with your organization’s approach. You want to make sure the coach will reinforce your methodology and adapt to the
Have a voracious desire to learn. You want someone who is constantly up on the industry news, research and subject matter experts. Their knowledge will help your sellers stay fresh.
Have a well-rounded background, and are bringing varied experiences with them. Many successful coaches tend to have diverse backgrounds, versus coming up only through sales ranks. Typically, the more experiences under their belt – including as a solution consultant, salesperson, sales engineer, enablement professional, etc. – the better their perspectives.
Sales Coaching is Critical
There’s a direct connection between coaching and sales team success – which is why the area remains a vital part of overall sales readiness and enablement. A recent report from CSO Insights states: “For the last five years, sales coaching has had the greatest impact on win rates and quota attainment.”
But in order to drive and maximize those benefits, the coaching program can’t be slapdash or inconsistent. The results are greatest when organizations take a formal (purposeful) or dynamic (with coaching services tailored and aligned to enablement services) approach.
The CSO Insights report further notes: “Leaving sales coaching up to the managers [to implement randomly/without direction] resulted in win rates and quota attainment rates well below the study’s average. … Dynamic coaching showed… strong improvements over the random approach: a 27.9% improvement in quota attainment and 32.1% for win rates.”
Sales coaches are an important part of this dynamic framework.