March 19, 2013

Sales managers who seek better performance from their salespeople know that “sharpening the saw” is important, and that learning should never cease. Through constant coaching, good salespeople can become superb, leading to greater personal and company success.

But which areas should be focused on? An excellent place to start is by reinforcing the The Top Five Factors of Top Sales People. Here are some sales coaching tips to help make your salespeople into superstars, aligned with those five factors:

Product Knowledge

Great salespeople know their products inside and out. Not only that, they understand their competitor’s products as well, and can provide key discriminators which make their product more attractive in the eyes of prospects.

Tip #1: At your weekly sales meeting, discuss a product or service your firm sells with the sales staff, highlighting the main differentiators from your competition. Have the staff role play selling this product. Next week, pick another item to discuss, and repeat. Do this week after week until they can rattle off the main benefits and differentiators for most products.


Possessing natural talent or aptitude for sales can make a big difference in whether a salesperson makes it past their first year in the business. Avoid costly mistakes by hiring those with natural talent where possible, and move those who aren’t suitable to other roles.

Tip #2: Put your sales force through the CPQ (Craft Personality Questionnaire) and adjust the roles played by each salesperson based on the results. Coach those who have shifted — for example, from inside sales to outside sales — on the skills they need to succeed, such as teaching cold calling to a former outside seller.

Selling Skills

It may seem certain salespeople just “wing it” and are somehow still successful, perhaps due to a magnetic personality. Close examination will reveal, however, they are still using basic, tried-and-true sales skills, even if it appears to be in an unconventional manner. Some of these skills might include focusing on a few top prospects at a time, using “coaches” who can “grease the wheels,” listening more than talking, and asking for referrals

Tip#3: Rather than focusing on improving the skills of only the salespeople who “need it” due to their poor performance, reward and reinforce the skills of your top performers with advanced training or personalized coaching to build on skills they already have. This will keep them loyal and selling even more.


The best salespeople are self-motivated and continually selling. They do not wait for things to happen, but instead work on generating business all the time by attending networking breakfasts, cold calling, leveraging social media for leads, and more.

Tip#4: Motivate people with rewards. Streamline your commission structure to eliminate all of the confusing tiers and hurdles, and encourage selling with contests and prizes. If you make selling worthwhile, you will get more sales.

Sales Process

The last factor in top salespeople is the sales process itself. This includes items which support the salespeople’s efforts, such as branding, marketing, and a formal step-by-step sales process, for example.

Tip#5: Coach salespeople constantly on the benefits of using a formal sales process which includes researching prospects thoroughly, using an inside “coach” to break the ice, using business capture checklists, CRM tools, and more.

I hope these sales coaching tips lead you to greater success!