Sales Training vs Sales Coaching in Maximising Sales Performance

Home / Blog / Sales Training vs Sales Coaching in Maximising Sales Performance
Sales Training vs Sales Coaching in Maximising Sales Performance

Improvements in sales results and sales performance can be huge.

More often they are incremental and hard fought for.

Some sales improvement strategies can only be judged – win or fail – post event…that’s what I want to share here….

The choice – sales training vs sales coaching in high performance selling – can significantly impact your team’s performance.

Here, discover the key differences, strategies, and their respective impacts to empower your salesforce for unprecedented success.

This article is for you of you’re a sales leader looking to boost your B2B team’s performance. Dive into the in-depth comparison of sales coaching vs sales training in high performance selling, backed by proven strategies and wisdom.

Make an informed decision for remarkable growth when you’re considering sales training vs sales coaching in high performance selling in your organisation.

Sales Training vs Sales Coaching in High Performance Selling

Competitive B2B sales can be tough, staying ahead of the curve is paramount for ambitious growth-oriented organisations.

To achieve high performance, remarkable growth, competitive positioning and advantage, sales leaders often find themselves at a crossroads, deliberating whether to invest in sales coaching or sales training.

Both are valuable tools, but they serve distinct purposes and have varying impacts on sales performance. In this real-world based blog, we’ll explore the differences between sales coaching and sales training and evaluate their more typical respective effects on sales performance in B2B sales environments.

Defining Sales Coaching vs Sales Training

Before delving into their differences, let’s establish clear definitions for both sales coaching and sales training:

  1. Sales Coaching: Sales coaching is a personalised, ongoing process aimed at improving individual sales reps’ performance. It involves one-on-one interactions between a coach (typically a seasoned sales professional or manager) and a sales rep. The coach offers guidance, feedback, and support to help the salesperson refine their skills, overcome obstacles, and achieve their sales goals.
  2. Sales Training: Sales training is a structured program or series of workshops designed to impart specific knowledge and skills to a group of sales reps. It often focuses on standardised techniques, product knowledge, and best practices. Sales training sessions are typically conducted by experienced trainers and can cover a wide range of topics, from objection handling to closing techniques.

The Key Differences: Sales Coaching vs. Sales Training

Now, let’s examine the fundamental distinctions between sales coaching and sales training:

  1. Individual vs. Group Focus:
    • Sales Coaching: Individualised attention is the hallmark of coaching. It is tailored to the unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses of each salesperson. Coaches work closely with individuals to address specific challenges and nurture their professional growth.
    • Sales Training: Training is a collective endeavour, usually delivered to a group of salespeople. While it provides a consistent knowledge base, it may not address individual skill gaps or challenges effectively.
  2. Continuous vs. Time-Bound:
    • Sales Coaching: Coaching is an ongoing, continuous process that occurs regularly. It adapts to the evolving needs of salespeople, making it well-suited for long-term skill development and improvement.
    • Sales Training: Training is typically conducted as discrete events or sessions. It imparts knowledge and skills within a fixed timeframe, making it effective for onboarding or addressing immediate skill gaps.
  3. Skill Enhancement vs. Knowledge Transfer:
    • Sales Coaching: Coaching primarily focuses on skill enhancement. It helps salespeople refine their communication, negotiation, and relationship-building skills, thus increasing their ability to connect with clients and close deals effectively.
    • Sales Training: Training emphasizes knowledge transfer. It equips sales teams with product knowledge, sales methodologies, and processes, enabling them to better understand what they are selling and how to navigate the sales process.
  4. Feedback-Oriented vs. Content-Centric:
    • Sales Coaching: Feedback is a central component of coaching. Salespeople receive constructive feedback on their performance, allowing them to make immediate improvements and adjustments.
    • Sales Training: Training sessions typically focus on delivering content and may not provide extensive individualised feedback. It’s more about information dissemination than fine-tuning skills.

Impact on Sales Performance

Having explored the differences between sales coaching and sales training, let’s now delve into their respective impacts on sales performance in a growth-oriented B2B sales function:

  1. Sales Coaching: Boosting Individual Performance:
    • Enhanced Skill Development: Sales coaching contributes significantly to the development of essential soft skills, such as active listening, empathy, and relationship-building. These skills are crucial in building trust and rapport with clients, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.
    • Increased Adaptability: Continuous coaching helps sales professionals adapt to changing market dynamics and customer preferences. They can quickly adjust their approach to meet evolving client needs, resulting in a competitive edge.
    • Improved Accountability: Coaching encourages accountability among salespeople. When individuals receive ongoing feedback and support, they tend to take ownership of their performance and strive for continuous improvement.
    • Higher Quality Customer Relationships: Sales coaching emphasizes the importance of building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with clients. This approach often leads to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.
    • Measurable Results: Coaching allows for the tracking of individual progress and performance metrics. This data-driven approach enables sales leaders to identify top performers, address underperformers, and adjust coaching strategies accordingly.
  2. Sales Training: Standardised Knowledge and Efficiency:
    • Consistency in Knowledge: Sales training ensures that all team members have a standardised understanding of product features, benefits, and sales processes. This consistency can enhance the credibility of your salesforce.
    • Rapid Onboarding: Training is particularly valuable for onboarding new hires efficiently. It equips them with the essential knowledge and tools needed to start selling quickly.
    • Time-Efficient Updates: When new products or processes are introduced, sales training can efficiently disseminate this information to the entire team, ensuring everyone is up to date.
    • Structured Sales Approaches: Training often introduces sales methodologies and frameworks that can help salespeople approach prospects and deals in a structured and organised manner.
    • Scale and Reach: Sales training is well-suited for large sales teams or organisations with geographically dispersed salespeople. It allows for the simultaneous education of a broad audience.

Selecting the Right Approach: Sales Training vs Sales Coaching in High Performance Selling? A Strategic Decision

In a growth-oriented B2B sales function, the choice between sales coaching and sales training for high performance selling should be strategic and aligned with your organisation’s goals. Here are some considerations to guide your decision:

  1. Identify Your Sales Team’s Needs: Start by conducting a thorough assessment of your sales team’s strengths and weaknesses. Are there specific skill gaps that need immediate attention, or is there a requirement for standardised knowledge across the board?
  2. Set Clear Objectives: Define your sales performance goals. If you aim to improve individual performance, sales coaching may be the preferred choice. If you’re focused on knowledge dissemination, sales training is key.
  3. Consider Your Resources: Evaluate the availability of resources, including time, budget, and personnel. Coaching typically demands more one-on-one time and dedicated coaches, while training programs may require investment in curriculum development and trainers.
  4. Balance Between Short-Term and Long-Term: Determine whether your priority is immediate improvements or long-term skill development. Sales coaching provides ongoing support for lasting improvement, while training delivers rapid knowledge transfer.
  5. Measure and Adapt: Whichever approach you choose, establish clear metrics to measure its impact on sales performance. Be prepared to adapt your strategy based on data and feedback.

Case Studies and Real-World Success Stories

To further emphasise the impact of both sales coaching and sales training, let’s explore a couple of real-world examples:

Case Study 1: Sales Coaching Success

Company X, a mid sized firm, with a well established brand and a strong voice in their sector, was struggling to meet its sales targets. The sales leadership team implemented a sales coaching program that included regular one-on-one sessions, role-playing exercises, and constructive feedback. Over the course of six months:

  • The sales team’s average deal size increased by 30%.
  • The win rate improved from <3% to >10%.
  • Sales cycle reduced from over 80 days to less than 35 days

These results demonstrated the effectiveness of sales coaching in driving individual and team performance improvements, ultimately leading to revenue growth.

Case Study 2: Sales Training Triumph

Company Y, a software house in a highly competitive space, faced a challenge when selling into specific niches at a much higher cost than previously offered. To ensure their salesforce had a deep understanding of the products, they conducted an intensive training program. The outcomes were remarkable:

  • Sales reps were able to confidently explain the intricacies of the new products to financial professionals using strong ROI models that used the prospects own / real data
  • Demo close rates went from 1:27 to 1:4 within 4 weeks.
  • The company’s average order value tripled within 3 months

This case illustrates how sales training can efficiently disseminate essential product knowledge, enabling sales teams to excel in complex and competitive markets.

Conclusion: Sales Training vs Sales Coaching in High Performance Selling – The Synergy of Coaching and Training

In the dynamic world of B2B sales, a one-size-fits-all approach is rarely effective. Instead, consider integrating elements of both sales coaching and sales training to create a holistic strategy for your ambitious and growth-oriented sales function.

Coaching refines individual skills, fosters accountability, and builds lasting customer relationships, while training ensures standardized knowledge and efficient onboarding.

Remember, the choice between sales coaching and sales training should align with your organisation’s unique needs, resources, and objectives. Embrace the synergy of coaching and training to empower your sales team for unparalleled success in the competitive B2B landscape.

In the end, it’s not a question of “either/or” but rather “how best to leverage both” to drive consistent growth and achieve your sales performance goals.

At Morton Kyle we build sales improvement solutions that bring together the very best reults from sales training and sales coaching – please see our Sales Improvement Workshop and our Special Offer for Sales Coaching

If you’d like to explore how we can help you optimise your sales function and guide the way to high performance selling using a mix of data driven sales improvement, sales coaching and sales training then please call Carol on 0779 002 1885 to discuss

Leave a Reply