Sales is without a doubt one of the most important functions of a successful business. It doesn't matter how innovative a product or service is or how much time is committed to developing a brand – if customers aren't buying, than a company will quickly go under. Sales is paramount for getting goods into the hands of consumers.

At the same time, sales is complex and often misunderstood. The keys to developing a strong sales department aren't obvious and often go overlooked. Add to that the difficulty of developing a framework when there are numerous variables that could impact sales – current economic climate, value of the product and the strength of the salesperson, to name a few – and a company is left with a department that is notoriously difficult to plan around.

So how do businesses maintain consistently high sales performance? Cultivating a better understanding of the structure and processes of a sales department is one step businesses can take toward answering that question.

"Sales behaviors must be examined and evaluated to determine whether or not they're supporting a larger vision for company growth and achievement," CallidusCloud notes in a whitepaper. "When sales organizations are operating effectively, managers drive strategic selling behaviors via coaching on activities, skills and behaviors. Sales coaching is not a project, but a process, built on an analysis of attributes that lead to high performance."

Coaching and the impact on sales

Maintaining high sales performance is a challenge, but coaching can help ensure standards are being met. A study by the Sales Executive Council (SEC) suggests sales coaching is the No. 1 investment that a company can make toward improving the performance and profitability of its sales force. Top sales reps who maintained a close working relationship with their supervisors by helping to develop strategy with managers or discussing obstacles to success were able to achieve even better results.

Clearly, sales coaching is a solid investment for companies looking to amp up the productivity of their sales departments. Many businesses have turned to third-party coaching service providers to assist with the development of these programs and ensure they are getting the most value out of their training initiatives.