Training to perfection: The value of sales coaching

One of the top concerns facing businesses in 2012 is talent. According to the Federal Reserve, the economy is improving and will grow between 2.4 and 2.9 percent this year, which means companies may have a better time hiring employees, particularly those who are talented at their trade. In the down economy, top-tier salespeople may have been firmly rooted by the stability of simply having a job, but that may no longer the be case – in fact, a study from GfK Custom Research suggests that nearly one in five Americans would leave their jobs if offered a better opportunity elsewhere.

So what does this mean for sales teams throughout the United States? They essentially have two options: Pay big for top talent (which may or may not be viable, depending on the financial situation of the company in question) or turn B-tier salespeople into all-stars with the right coaching and training.

Those that train succeed

Citing data from Aberdeen, leadership company Forum notes that companies which train their sales forces regularly outperform those that don't. Best-in-class organizations were found to train their sales employees twice as much as the average company, highlighting not only the value of coaching, but also its necessity.

Effective talent development strategies need to address a variety of issues, so it's paramount that companies use a well-rounded training program that covers all the bases, including hot topics such as selling skills, tools and methodologies, knowledge of company products and services, coaching skills and other leadership attributes.

"High-performing sales organizations create and use competency models and career pathing linked to sales strategy and priorities to guide formal and informal training curriculums," Forum adds. "Well-planned, well-executed talent development builds confident, high-performing sales teams aligned with their company sales strategy."

Dearth of training in spite of evidence

Despite the clear value of coaching, as depicted by the Aberdeen study, training is an understated part of today's business world. Many companies view it as an expense instead of a value add, which may be hindering their bottom lines in the long run. Not only does coaching bring the best out of your employees, but it can also provide you with a significant leg up on your competitors.

In fact, research by recruitment firm Adecco suggests most employed adults don't receive the training they need to succeed. As many as three-quarters of respondents indicated they didn't feel prepared for the tasks they were supposed to complete.

Training is an important value-add to any sales team, and many aren't offering this option to their employees, which means they are potentially leaving money on the table.