13 Reasons Why Sales Coaching Fails

We’re big fans of sales coaching. Sales management alone is not enough to ensure the success of your sales reps – they must be analytically coached on how to effectively perform their job, instead of simply being told what to do at their jobs. However, despite all the stated benefits and best practices of analytical sales coaching, many sales managers still fail at this critical area of their job. Here are the 13 most common reasons why sales coaching fails.

1) Too much telling, not enough asking – Constantly telling your sales team what to do will not create a sales force of self-managing sales reps. They will not be empowered to perform their responsibilities autonomously and will ultimately become dependent on you to be their problem-solver with all issues. (Click to Tweet!)

2) Having inconsistent standards – Sales managers have to be fair and just with their expectations, not just from time to time but across the entire sales team. Allowing one rep to get away with only making 30 calls a day while a similarly experienced and competent rep is expected to make more than 50 will create a bad environment. (Click to Tweet!)

3) Ego and pride get in the way – Bad sales coaches think that they know everything; GREAT sales coaches KNOW that they don’t know everything. Check your ego at the door when coaching reps, and be open about learning something new or possibly being wrong. (Click to Tweet!)

4) Results-oriented thinking – The bottom line is that sales is a bottom-line business, where revenue is the most important goal. However, coaches shouldn’t adopt such a results-oriented mindset with their sales reps; focusing on the process can be an effective coaching and learning tool. (Click to Tweet!)

5) Ignoring the numbers and data – Bad sales coaching primarily entails coaching by the seat of their pants, with no data for guidance or analysis. The best sales coaches know that bringing actionable insights acquired from meaningful data analysis to coaching sessions will result in more salient and effective teaching points. (Click to Tweet!)

6) Looking at the wrong KPIs – An analytical sales coach who is looking at the wrong metrics might as well be a traditional sales coach who doesn’t care for sales analytics at all. For example, instead of looking at raw activity numbers, effective sales coaches study activity conversion metrics that show the efficiency of how many dials leads to demos or deals. (Click to Tweet!)

7) Ignorance is bliss – Similar to point #3 about ego above, bad sales coaches don’t know what they don’t know. In this case, ignorance is most certainly not bliss – in fact, not knowing as much as possible about your reps, your sales process, your company and the industry can be a costly mistake. (Click to Tweet!)

8) Poor time management – Bad sales coaches always make a point of getting to their sales coaching sessions in their calendars, without actually doing so. Effective sales coaching necessitates devoting a set amount of time to it – and nothing else –  each day, week, month or quarter. (Click to Tweet!)

9) Not learning from mistakes – If a sales manager doesn’t learn from his or her mistakes, how can they reasonably expect their sales reps to as well? Constantly making the same mistake over and over again is the best way to entrench bad habits in a sales rep, or a sales manager. (Click to Tweet!)

10) Too much focus on problems, not solutions – Bad sales coaches are glass-half-full people, who only focus on the negative side instead of the bright side of life. Instead of constantly pointing out all the issues the team is facing or all the ways a rep is struggling, look for solutions that could improve those situations. (Click to Tweet!)

11) Poor understanding of selling process and skills – Although there is no correlation between great sales reps becoming great sales managers, sales managers are still required to have a solid understanding of the team’s selling process, as well as the necessary selling skills to succeed. (Click to Tweet!)

12) A lack of trust and respect – The relationship between a sales coach and a sales rep has to have a solid foundation, built on mutual trust and respect. This means that the sales coach must earn the respect and trust of the sales rep he’s managing, not just vice versa. (Click to Tweet!)

13) Unrealistic expectations – Sales coaches must set proper goals and expectations, or risk leading their reps astray. A rep who constantly fails to hit his unrealistic goals will suffer a drop in confidence – and performance – so set the right tone by forecasting accurately and setting attainable quotas. (Click to Tweet!)