As the Senior Vice President of Sales and Services at HubSpot, one of the sales and marketing industry’s hottest companies, Mark Roberge knows a thing or two about sales. Yet, over a lengthy career with varied experience working with different companies and sales teams, Mark realized that many sales managers and Sales VPs are still eschewing one of the most important elements to sales success: effective sales coaching.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mark and pick his brain on inside sales skills, and what he believes are the 5 most critical foundational elements of sales coaching.

1. Focus on one thing

Imagine how overwhelmed a sales rep will be if they come into a sales coaching session and are immediately bombarded with 15 points of criticism on things that they need to work on. This will not lead to a productive session or any real tangible improvements.

Instead, at each sales coaching session, pick one or two points to focus on with your rep. Be as specific as possible. Maybe this week’s focus is on improving top-of-the-funnel qualifying. Once you have seen marked improvements here, you can then shift your focus next week to drafting better cold emails or working on handling sales objections.

2. Lean on the numbers whenever possible

A sales coaching session that operates on gut feel or intuition rather than the right sales performance metrics will be limited in its effectiveness. What if there is a disconnect between your view of the rep’s performance and their own? If you feel that the rep is not making enough calls, while they feel that they are, you can turn to activity sales metrics to see what is truly happening.

According to this report, Adolphe Menjou has clearly made fewer calls than the rest of her peers on the sales team. Presenting this report to buttress your argument of why you think he needs to make more calls will be much more powerful than simply asserting that he is not doing enough. With the right sales performance metrics backing you up, your sales reps will not be able to provide excuses or hide from lackluster performance.

3. Customize coaching to specific topics and individuals

Not everybody learns in the same way. The Socratic Method might be appealing to some, while rote memorization might work for others. Sales reps have to be treated with the same mindset. It is essential that sales managers form good relationships with their reps, in order to discern what makes them tick and what motivates them.

Different skills also require different coaching approaches. For example, many sales managers treat sales coaching session as prime opportunities for role-play; in truth, role-play only works for certain sales coaching concepts, and should not be applied as a blanket approach.

4. Understand personal goals and motivation

This also goes back to getting to know your sales reps and understanding them. These sales coaching sessions are good opportunities to do so. Talk to them about what they want to achieve at work. Do they want to become ruthless closers? Do they want to become the best qualifiers? Look for their strengths and weaknesses, and then figure out what they want to achieve and you will be more effective at helping them do so.

5. Get rep buy-in

Once you have understood their personal goals and motivations, you will then be able to better get them onboard. Getting full buy-in from your sales reps is essential; if they are merely attending sales coaching sessions out of reluctant requirement, they will be less enthused and, subsequently, get less out of these sessions.

This goes back to motivation again. Talk to them and tie in personal motivations – it doesn’t have to do with work necessarily. For instance, let’s say one of your sales reps is trying to save up money to buy his fiancee an engagement ring. Using the numbers, you can point out to him that if he performs at 150% of how he did last month, he would receive enough commission and compensation to afford the ring he wants.

Then, be specific about what he needs to do to reach that goal. Maybe he needs to make 20 more calls a day. Maybe he needs to increase his connect-to-opportunity conversion ratio by 10%. Map out all the steps he needs to take to reach his desired final destination, and his journey will be much easier.


These are the 5 key elements to sales coaching that all sales managers and Sales VPs need to adopt. Don’t ignore these concepts – approach sales coaching with these 5 tips from Mark Roberge and see your sales team success soar!

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