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The Importance of Front-line Coaching

There’s an old proverb in the sales profession about two C-Suite executives discussing sales training. The first exec says: “What if we spend all this money training our salespeople and they leave the company?” To which the other responds: “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

There is no doubt that sales training is expensive (typically in the range of $ 1,000 - $ 5,000 per rep annually), and yes, sometimes salespeople leave. It is also true that sales training can be extremely valuable for individuals who seek to further develop their skills. But engaging a firm like Butler Street to train your sales team isn’t a panacea. You can’t just train your salespeople and expect all of them to magically be transformed into a more effective, customer-centric growth engine for the company. In fact, according to Spotio, up to 84% of sales training is forgotten within three months.

Companies that grow also need to consider how the front line is being coached. There are 32 NFL franchises today, but only one wins the Super Bowl each year. Sometimes teams win multiple championships. Some never do. Why is that? What is it that enables some sales teams to thrive and excel after training while others fail? The answer is simple: coaching.

The most relevant question you should ask yourself before you decide to train your people:

How will our front-line managers continue to coach and develop the team once the training session ends?

Below are a few of the qualities of a great coach, as defined by the International Olympic Committee, and how they translate into great front-line sales coaches

IOC Coaching Quality

Sales Coaching Analog

Understands the sport and leads by example

​Has deep understanding of the sales methodology

Shares the Knowledge – Educates Others

​Conducts regular training review sessions

Highly Energized - Motivator

Uses public, positive feedback regularly to create vicarious reinforcement

​Disciplined – Strong Integrity

​Discourages “optional culture” and inspects the use of key sales tools and processes.

​Effective Communicator - Teacher

Uses “on the spot” coaching and role practice to reinforce key skills and habits

Butler Street makes a living by training salespeople and their coaches. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly all the time, and regularly disengage from opportunities where an “optional culture” and lack of coaching discipline would put a training initiative at risk of failure. We want our customers to win and won’t risk failure if the signs point to a wasted training program. If you want your training initiative to succeed – then evaluate your front-line coaches first. Are they eager to learn? Do they share information and educate the team? Are they energized, motivated, and disciplined? And can they communicate well and teach the skills your sales team needs for success?

For more information about coaching and discipline, check out the importance of establishing top-down agreements in order to ensure that expectations are clearly set, and last week’s blog by Dominic Visione regarding the importance of role practice.


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