The evolution of sales coaching

The sales industry has changed significantly over the past few years. New technology arms agents with better data about their customers and aids them in lead conversion. Financial employees can utilize incentive compensation management (ICM) software to expedite the time they spend calculating commissions and improve the accuracy of payouts. Through sales performance management (SPM), sales executives are better able to align their team's goals with that of the company as a whole.

It's not a stretch to say that technology has similarly revolutionized sales coaching and training. Businesses want sales training programs that are customized specifically for them, not some generic platform that can broadly be applied to almost any business. Additionally, cost is a factor for many companies – the economy has them watching their budgets, so they need effective sales coaching programs that are also affordable. Web-based components of sales training initiatives essentially solve both of these needs.

According to a recent report from SellingPower, the demand for sales coaching and training is evident by the growth of the industry itself. In 2012, companies across the globe spent upward of $1.6 billion on sales training, highlighting the perceived importance of continually developing agents until they have reached top form. Coaching declined in 2009, but with the economy on the mind, it's clear that organizations are now trying to do everything in their power to maximize sales and improve return on investment.

Digital training initiatives play a big role in the increased spending. While nothing will ever replace traditional one-on-one sales coaching, online courses still provide a lot of value. They can be completed from anywhere and can be highly customized to fit the needs of individual sales agents.

"These digital lessons are also going mobile, as reps are equipped with the latest devices – and are increasingly comfortable using them. And sales lessons and product training are becoming more fun, with games, role-playing and interactive sessions, making learning easy and pleasurable," SellingPower adds.

Out of all the different strategies businesses can use to boost productivity and eke the most out of their sales teams, training and coaching continues to be one of the most effective ways. Several studies have lent credence to this notion, suggesting that sales coaching is the single most effective tactic for boosting the ROI of sales teams.