The four missteps of sales coaching initiatives

Study after study has come to the same conclusion: Effective training and sales coaching is hugely beneficial to companies. It essentially separates the wheat from the chaff, giving companies a significant leg up over their competitors and providing more value to their key salespeople.

That said, there are some key pitfalls to avoid when training personnel. Whether companies conduct their own sales coaching programs or turn to a professional, these barriers need to be sidestepped.

1. Generic coaching practices: Perhaps one of the biggest detriments to any sales coaching initiative is failure to make it relevant to the salespeople attending the course and the company in general. Training programs should link a sales model to the team responsible for executing the strategy in a way that makes sense for participants.

2. Separate training from punishment: If a particular group of salespeople realize they are underperforming, companies need to reinforce the fact that coaching is being provided to help them improve, not as punishment or performance management for their results.

"Managers must clearly differentiate these interactions and ensure that salespeople recognize a 'safe' coaching environment," Bloomberg Businessweek adds. "Address this by creating formal, scheduled coaching sessions that are clearly different from performance management discussions—inevitably the most common conversation in a sales organization."

3. The on-again, off-again approach: Training isn't something that should happen once a year and then get swept under the table. Effective sales coaching needs to be constant, as this way key concepts and practices can be driven home to salespeople over the course of weeks. A continuous approach is pivotal to continuous improvement.

4. Establish a regimen: Salespeople are known for being witty and quick on their feet. While those are good traits when they are under the gun during a client call, running a training program in this way isn't effective. Everything needs to be carefully planned and well executed when companies are launching their sales coaching initiatives to ensure everything that needs to be covered is addressed.

Companies should seriously consider hiring a third-party agency to run their sales coaching efforts. There are a number of potential pitfalls that businesses may encounter when trying to create their own programs. Working with an experienced provider can help minimize these risks and ensure salespeople are given the best training programs possible.