25 expert sales coaching tips and techniques to amplify close rates
How would you like to increase your reps’ win rates by 28%?
According to research by CSO Insights, that’s the power of structured coaching for your sales team.
Sales coaching is just one cog in the day-to-day life of a sales manager. But in between setting quota and goals, keeping the team motivated, measuring results, and forecasting future sales, how can you as a sales manager make sure you’re also coaching your team effectively?
We’re about to dive into 25 of the best sales coaching tips and techniques for managers to live by. These techniques will help you build a better strategy, onboard faster, coach low-performers and all-stars, and set goals that your team can reach.
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- Sales coaching tips for building a better strategy from day one
- Coaching tips for sales managers to be better leaders
- Call coaching techniques for helping your reps in the moment
- Best sales coaching tips for onboarding new reps
- Effective sales coaching techniques for your underperforming reps
- Coaching advice for your all-star top-performers
By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to coach every member of your team to higher performance (and boost those close rates).
Sales coaching tips for building a better strategy from day one
The first step to effective sales coaching is having a structure that your reps can rely on.
According to RAIN Group, the best sales coaching strategy sits at the intersection of three areas:
- Personal effectiveness coaching
- Executive coaching for future growth
- Pipeline coaching for day-to-day improvement
Source: Rain Group
Here are 5 ways to build a strategy that works for your whole team and for each individual:
1. Define clear goals with your reps
If your coaching sessions aren’t working towards a specific goal, they’ll end up being haphazard ‘chats’ that don’t lead to real results. Instead, set specific sales goals alongside your reps. More than just their quota, these coaching goals should be based on their sales activities and the skills needed to succeed. Hone the skills that move the needle, and you’ll see real results.
How to implement this in your coaching: Before building a sales coaching plan, sit down with each rep to talk about realistic goals based on data from your CRM.
2. Focus more on the middle of the pack
Some sales managers make the mistake of focusing too much on the lowest and highest performers on the team. But in reality, low performers may lack the motivation or basic skills to improve a significant amount, and top performers are probably already hitting close to their top potential.
While these groups still need regular coaching, you’ll see more significant improvement when you focus on your middle 60%—the solid, average performers. These reps have the baseline skills to perform well, and might just need some extra help to push them into the top-tier of your team.
How to implement this in your coaching: Using sales data, identify the middle performers on your team, and spend some extra time training them to improve the skills they already possess.
3. Create a foundation of sales fundamentals to build on
While it’s good for your reps to learn advanced sales strategies over time, it’s more important for your entire team to have a solid understanding of the basic principles of sales. If you only coach your team on advanced sales skills, you’ll probably end up with a couple of top performers and a lot of reps who can’t reach quota to save their life.
Coach for those foundational skills, and you’ll develop a team of solid performers. As reps improve their basic skills, they can learn to be more creative down the road—but they’ll always have that foundation to fall back on.
How to implement this in your coaching: Create a sales playbook that sets a clear, solid baseline for your reps, and coach on that foundation.
4. Use pipeline data to find your reps’ weak points
A key sales coaching tip is using real-time data to guide your efforts, not guesswork or gut feelings. Dig into pipeline data in your CRM to find out which stages your reps are struggling with, where leads are piling up, or where lots of leads are falling out of the pipeline.
How to implement this in your coaching: Track pipeline metrics such as conversion rate per stage, churn rate per stage, or the length of time leads stay in a certain stage without moving forward. Compare individual metrics with the team average, and you’ll see where each rep needs more help.
5. Build a strategy to help reps advance in their career
Coaching sessions are more effective when reps feel the value for themselves. So, instead of just focusing on skills, help your reps see the bigger picture. Talk to them about their career goals—where do they want to be in 1 year? In 5 years? Then, set a plan to help them reach those goals by improving the specific skills that they need. This gives a clearer flow and structure to your individual efforts.
How to implement this in your coaching: For example, if an AE has the goal of moving up to sales manager in the future, build a coaching plan that helps improve their management skills. This might include making them part of the onboarding process for new reps, or giving them wider control over tracking and maintaining their own sales KPIs, then reporting on their results in your sessions.
6. Share a mission that each individual contributes to
We all love to feel that we’re part of something greater than ourselves. So, help your reps feel this way as well by mentoring them all towards a greater mission that involves more than just hitting the team quota for the quarter. Set goals for the sales team that have a greater impact on the company, and help them feel like they’re contributors to the success of the company itself.
How to implement this in your coaching: Think about the sales team goals that you’re passionate about, such as breaking into a new market, breaking a certain sales record, or building the company to a certain size or ARR. Then, share this big-picture mission with your team, and report on how each individual is contributing to that greater goal.
Coaching tips for sales managers to be better leaders
Leadership skills are obviously a big part of being a manager. Learn some specific best practices that can also build your skills as a leader:
7. Understand key motivators for your individual reps
Not everyone is motivated best by monetary incentives. Learn what your reps really want from their life and their career, and you’ll learn how best to motivate them. Do your reps respond better to friendly competition among the team? Then set up a team leaderboard. Are monetary incentives the best motivator for a rep, or would they prefer career-related rewards, such as more autonomy in their process or a paid sales pitch training course?
How to implement this in your coaching: Talk to your reps about their individual goals, their long-term motivations, and how they prefer to be rewarded for good work.
8. Tap the expertise of your team to improve coaching
You may be the boss, but that doesn’t mean you know everything. So, improve your sessions with team members by asking for their input and feedback. Get their input on your sales pitch scripts and talk tracks. Learn from their expertise, and encourage more junior reps to do so as well.
How to implement this in your coaching: Set up peer-to-peer coaching sessions between junior reps and high-performing team members to allow their unique expertise to spread through the team.
9. Let reps take ownership of their coaching sessions
Reps who take partial ownership of sessions will be more likely to view these moments as an opportunity to improve their skills rather than just another required weekly meeting. Encourage your reps to build out part of the session on their own, or to take the initiative to ask for help or guidance in certain areas.
How to implement this in your coaching: Start by creating a shared agenda that both you and your rep can edit and add to. Then, encourage your rep to add thoughts, ideas, questions, call recordings to review, or anything else that’s relevant to your coaching agenda.
10. Show you place priority on mentorship moments
1:1s with your reps shouldn’t be spur-of-the-moment meetings that you plan when you have a few extra minutes. This should be a regular part of everyone’s weekly schedule, something your reps can count on. When you frequently push or cancel your sessions with reps, it gives the impression that these meetings are not important to you, and that attitude will quickly rub off on your reps.
How to implement this in your coaching: Show by example that coaching sessions are important, regular parts of every week. Set aside a specific time to prepare for each session, and do your best to never cancel or push these meetings.
Realize your reps are people: You can't take a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership in a remote setting (or any other for that matter). Don't push or cancel 1:1's. Prepare an agenda, share it beforehand to get their thoughts and important items to cover, and then stick to it in the meeting. Then, listen and make notes. Try to understand their barriers. Finally, create a plan and communicate how you'll help from what you're hearing, and then do it
See more expert tips on remote sales coaching in the Remote Sales Team Playbook
11. Be accessible for your team outside of scheduled training sessions
Coachable moments don’t just happen in the planned times. Make it clear to your team that, as their leader, you’re available to help them in difficult situations or answer their questions. For example, in Close, reps have the ability to invite another team member (such as their manager) to join an in-progress call. Encourage your reps to use this feature when they’re stuck or need your guidance.
Give your team the support and attention they need throughout the week, and they’ll be more likely to pay attention to your feedback during scheduled sessions.
How to implement this in your coaching: Leave your office door open, whether physically or metaphorically, by encouraging reps to reach out to you during working hours. Let them know which channel is best for them to reach you when they need your help.
Call coaching techniques for helping your reps in the moment
An essential sales coaching technique to improve your team’s ability to close deals involves helping them on the phone.
Since your reps probably spend most of their day on calls with prospects, how can you implement call coaching into your sessions?
12. Use a live call coaching software
Sales roleplay is good—but getting inside real, live calls gives you unique insights you can’t get during roleplay. Live call coaching software, like the features included in Close, allows you to be a silent witness to sales calls, help coach your reps in real-time with Whisper, or even barge live calls to answer difficult questions or handle an irate prospect. Live call coaching allows you to track performance for your team, and give junior or newly hired reps a safety net when they’re on difficult calls.
How to implement this in your coaching: Plan a specific time or day during the week to jump in on live calls, and let your reps know in advance that you’ll be listening to their calls during that time.
13. Listen to and analyze recorded calls
Live call coaching gives you the ability to give your reps quick tips in the moment while analyzing recorded calls allows you to dig deeper into how your reps are performing on the phone. Listen to their tone of voice, check how well they perform against the sales script, get a feel for their confidence level and energy, and track how well they connect with the prospect. It's also great for doing post-mortems when good opportunities are lost, to see what can be learned from the sales conversations.
How to implement this in your coaching: Ask each of your reps to submit one recorded call per week to discuss during your sessions. Give them the freedom to submit a good call they’d like to analyze for best practices copy, or a not-so-good call they’d like some critical feedback on.
14. Use AI to take on a higher volume of call feedback
The more reps you manage, the harder it is to be effective at call coaching. After all, how many calls can you listen to in a week? To save time for other essential tasks, make good use of the AI found in some sales coaching platforms. Tools like Gong or Showpad give you deeper analysis into call best-practices for your team and your market, allowing you to pull practical insights from your reps’ best and worst calls every week (without spending hours listening to them yourself).
Best sales coaching tips for onboarding new reps
You’ve built a sales hiring process that is air-tight. You’ve agonized over hiring the ‘perfect’ rep for your team. You’re absolutely sure you’ve made the best decision. Don’t waste the effort you put into hiring by starting the new rep off with a crappy onboarding experience.
Bring new hires up to speed on your sales team. How can you coach new reps successfully and get them selling from day one?
15. Make sure they know what’s expected of them before their first day
A key to getting off to a good start is making sure your reps know what you expect them to do from the moment they start. New sales hires should have everything they need to log on in the morning on their first day and get directly to work. This is especially important when onboarding new remote hires. When a rep knows what to expect (and what you expect from them) before their first day, they’ll be mentally prepared to get to work, and will be able to start off more productively from the get-go.
Check out how we handle the remote onboarding process here at Close.
How to implement this in your coaching: Coordinate with your team to make sure new reps have all the equipment they need before their first day and get them their welcome packet and onboarding schedule at least a few days before they start.
16. Coach around a foundational script they can start using right away
New hires should have access to sales scripts, objection management tools, battle cards, and other sales enablement resources. With these foundational tools already in place, they can get started selling to prospects right out of the gate.
How to implement this in your coaching: Build foundational scripts and talk tracks for your new reps to build a solid basis for selling your product.
Want to get a head start on building the essential sales enablement content your new hires need? Download the free Sales Enablement Toolkit:
17. Put new reps in front of prospects from day one
Practice trumps training. If you want new hires to learn how to sell your product to their new market, they need to pick up the phone and start selling actively. In our onboarding schedule, reps start making calls by noon on their first day. This launches them into the market and gets them in front of prospects, learning fast and hard how to sell. At the end of each day during the new rep’s first week, schedule a stand-up where they are free to ask you questions, get direct feedback, and help them prep for the next day of selling.
How to implement this in your coaching: Give new reps everything they need to succeed, and let them learn to sell your product like they’re learning to ride a bike—by getting out there and practicing.
Download our 4-week onboarding schedule for new sales hires here.
18. Have new reps shadow interactively
Shadowing other high-performing reps on the team (and even you!) is an important part of coaching new hires. But remember: The goal isn’t to turn new hires into exact copies of successful reps—it’s for them to learn more about the market and the product so they can achieve success on their own. Have reps shadow interactively by asking their opinion, getting them to think of how they would approach the situation on their own.
How to implement this in your coaching: Have new reps shadow others in different aspects of the sales process, such as cold calls, product demos, or even meeting prep. Then, ask questions to get the new hires thinking about these different tactics, the market response, and ideas on what they would’ve done differently.
19. Practice what to say when they don’t know the answer to a question
New reps aren’t going to be able to answer every question that prospects ask them during their first week. So, build structured responses that reps can use so they don’t panic while on a call with a prospect. For example, the rep could say something like:
“That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer because this is my first week on the job here, but I’m going to ask someone in the company who’s the best person to answer this question, and I’ll get back to you with an accurate answer today. Is that okay with you?”
How to implement this in your coaching: Give reps talk tracks to answer common questions, and enable them to respond honestly when they don’t know the answer. This fosters a culture of honesty and accountability among your team.
Effective sales coaching techniques for your underperforming reps
Does your team have some reps who just can’t seem to make their quota? Are they discouraged, unskilled, or just lacking motivation?
It’s your job as a manager to build these low-performers up (or decide when it might be time to remove them from your team).
Here are some sales coaching techniques that can help you build the skills and motivation of low performers:
20. Build self-awareness by asking questions
You don’t need to tell underperforming reps that they’re doing a bad job—believe me, they already know. Instead of coming straight into sessions with a list of critical feedback for these reps to work on, try to help them build self-awareness by asking questions. After all, they may know they’re not hitting quota, but it might be harder for them to see why.
How to implement this in your coaching: Ask how they feel about the current sales process or their pipeline, how they feel about the leads that are assigned to them, or if there’s an aspect of the sales process they find particularly challenging.
21. Collaborate on a personalized plan to improve
Once you get low-performing reps to open up about their struggles, it’s time to work collaboratively on improving their skills. Set realistic goals for your low performers, such as increasing their outbound calls, improving their email open rates, or building a better structure for their next product demo. Work alongside your reps to reach these goals.
How to implement this in your coaching: Pick one skill or area you’d like to help your rep improve on, and set a reasonable goal for them. Then, work together to build a plan with specific steps on how they will reach that goal, and follow up along the way to see how it’s going.
22. Build out from their strengths
While it’s easier to focus on the weaknesses of your low performers, it’s more important to focus on their strengths. (Yes, they have strengths too, and it’s your job to find them.) When talking with low performers, find out which aspects of the sales process they enjoy the most. Look at the data to see where they stand out. Then, use those strengths to build other skills.
How to implement this in your coaching: Don’t start with where underperformers are weakest—start with where they’re strong and build outward into other areas of the sales process. This will motivate them to keep trying, as they’ll see the goals as something within their reach.
Advice for your all-star top-performers
Your top performers are absolutely crushing it every day. They’re always hitting or exceeding their quota. They’ve got energy and motivation out the wazoo.
So, they don’t need coaching, right?
Your top performers are probably bringing in most of the sales for your team, and it’s your job as a sales manager to make sure they stay happy and motivated in their work.
While you might not see a large increase in their numbers, training top performers helps ensure they stay with the company. That’s important because, according to a survey by DePaul University, it can cost upwards of $100k to replace a good sales rep.
To retain top-performing reps, you need to keep them active and challenge them to improve gradually. Here are some ways you can coach top-performing sales reps and retain these sales machines on your team:
23. Improve the way they think, and their behavior will follow
Coaching top performers doesn’t mean teaching them how to do sales again. Instead, it involves helping them improve the way they think.
Top performers think fast and act faster—a virtue that can sometimes work against them. Building qualities such as empathy, patience, and problem-solving skills in your top reps will help them work smarter with prospects to avoid going too fast for their own good.
How to implement this in your coaching: Pick specific qualities or attitudes that your reps need to work on, and create coaching activities that help them improve those qualities. For example, if you’re trying to help reps build empathy, you could have them spend time during their sales calls to dig into what their prospects are thinking and feeling and exercise their ability to dig into the deeper roots of their problems.
24. Position negative feedback as a challenge to improve
Your top reps are receiving praise (and probably some nice incentives) for their good work. Some of them may have the tendency to resist critical feedback given directly (although the absolute top-performers are good at receiving critical feedback). That said, these reps are ambitious and eager to improve—so, set your negative feedback within the framework of a challenge. When you challenge your reps to improve their skills, they’ll be more likely to take your feedback in stride and build their own plan to improve.
How to implement this in your coaching: Set monthly or weekly challenges for your top performers, and build any critical feedback you have into those regular challenges.
25. Give them a larger role in structuring sessions
Top performers already have experience and knowledge—they don’t want to be coddled or treated like a junior rep. So, the structure for coaching them must be adapted to their individual level. That’s why it’s important for top performers to have more control and ownership of their sessions. This makes these sessions feel more like collaborative meetings of the minds, rather than a teacher-student scenario.
How to implement this in your coaching: Within your shared coaching agenda, let your top performers set more of the structure and fill in the blanks for what to discuss. Challenge them to come up with new ideas or methods to test, and let them run with measuring the results.
The best sales coaching tips work better alongside the best sales coaching tools
These tips and techniques are just the starting point to improving sales coaching for your team. It’s your job to take responsibility for sessions, build a system that works, and measure the results.
Of course, all of this works best when it’s built alongside the right tools.
With Close CRM, you can track rep performance, compare activity metrics and success, and stay on top of the team’s (and each individual’s) sales pipeline.
Best of all, you can perform live Call Coaching, or listen back to recorded calls and always track the performance of your reps in real-time by easily slicing and dicing sales data in any way you like.
Ready to build your sales coaching strategy alongside the CRM that’s built for high-performance teams? Start your 14-day free trial of Close to see how this all-in-one sales tool can boost your team’s performance in the long term.