Maven Sales Group Blog

The Difference Between Sales Training and Sales Coaching

8/29/18 4:24 PM / by David Fletcher

As a C-level sales executive a major component of your job is to lead. However, another major component of their job is to inspire their sales team. Being an effective leader is about more than giving a pep talk; it requires the understanding that training is not simply for onboarding new sales representatives. Instead, by embracing the benefits of sales training and sales coaching, leaders can not only inspire their team, but they can help them reach new levels of success. 

What Is Sales Training?

Sales training tends to be structured and focused on specific tasks, concepts, and skills. While it is most often associated with onboarding new sales representatives, sales training can also be used to help seasoned team members. It is important to note that while sales training is typically completed in groups, it can be used in one-on-one settings. Most often sales training is used to complete the following tasks: 

  • Provide a sales representative (or manager) with the guidance needed to master new skills. 
  • Improve areas of weakness. 
  • Solidify areas of strength (most often by testing these skills and concepts as part of a yearly review). 
  • Introduce new skills, concepts, or tasks to a large group. 

Understanding The Primary Goal of Sales Training

Generally speaking, sales training is all about explaining concepts, skills, or specific tasks in a standardized fashion. In this vein, sales training features a lot of "telling" language, i.e. it tells someone how to complete a certain task. This "telling" method doesn't require input from the trainees, which is why it is often used in group settings and during onboarding scenarios. With this in mind, as its name suggests, the primary goal of sales training is to teach sales representatives and managers, so that upon completion of their training, they can immediately begin to use their newly acquired skills. 

What Can Sales Training Do For Your Team?

Through sales training your entire team can enjoy numerous short term and longer benefits. For example, training will help your team leverage effective sales methodologies to increase productivity levels and enhance sales records. Additionally, sales training will enhance the onboarding process and ensure that new team members are ready to represent your brand to potential, new, and existing customers. In short, strategically implemented sales training is a vital resource that will make your entire sales division more successful. 

Tips To Properly Implementing Sales Training

Sales training is most effective when you focus your efforts on three core development areas: sales knowledge, product knowledge, and internal processes and systems. Within each development area you will need to establish your expectations, the knowledge that is needed to successfully complete all associated tasks, and tips for becoming the best performers in each category. Once your team has a good understanding of each core development area, you will be ready to move on to personal needs, which is where sales coaching comes into play.

What Is Sales Coaching?

Sales coaching is similar to sales training, however it does have a few very important distinctions. Sales coaching is typically focused on continued skill development. In this vein, it is used to enhance learning and training, rather than to teach someone something new. Since coaching is tailored to individual needs, it is often best implemented in a one-on-one environment.

Understanding The Primary Goal Of Sales Coaching

Unlike sales training, sales coaching is based on the direct feedback of sales representatives and managers. It is built around listening to the specific needs of your individuals on your sales team, so that you can determine the best approach for helping them improve certain skills and areas of weakness. Effective sales coaching focuses on a simple goal: to help individuals become the best sales representatives that they can be. This might seem like a clichéd goal, but the reality is quite the opposite.

Every sales representative and manager has a different set of skills that they bring to the table. To help these individuals leverage their skills, you need to recognize that "best" is defined differently for each individual. For example, some sales representatives might be great at working with potential clients; however, they might not do a good job of up-selling to existing clients. Through sales coaching, you can improve their areas of weakness, support their areas of strength, and increase their productivity levels, while simultaneously generating new levels of sales success.

What Can Sales Coaching Do For Your Team?

Sales coaching typically has the best impact on your "middle of the line performers." Your best performers might require a little coaching, but typically these individuals are already skilled and motivated to implement self-improvement on areas where they don't exceed expectations. Your worst performers typically need more structured training to increase skills (or simply learn the skills needed to succeed). However, your average performers typically have the basic skills needed to complete their required tasks. What they need to succeed is the push and personalized attention that comes from sales coaching. With this in mind, sales coaching can help your average performers join the ranks of your best performers and thus enhance the success of your entire sales division.  

Maven Sales Group Coaching


Tips To Properly Implementing Sales Coaching 

While sales training focuses on a "telling environment," sales coaching is all about listening and asking the right questions. To implement a good sales coaching environment you should ask the following types of questions: 

  • What skills need to be improved? 
  • What are specific areas of weakness and / or strength?  
  • Are there specific problems that are impacting performance levels?

Through a personalized approach, you can help your sales representatives and managers feel more confident as they learn strategic methods for increasing their performance levels. Remember that when it comes to sales coaching, small victories pave the way for long term success. 

Align Your Sales Goals With The Right Program

As a leader, you know that success is empowered with the right insights and tools. Together, sales training and sales coaching can provide the optimal environment that your sales representatives and managers need to achieve new levels of success. By aligning your sales goals with the right program (i.e. training or coaching), you can ultimately ensure that your sales division optimizes growth opportunities and performance levels for all individuals. 

Topics: Sales Development, Sales Process Design, Sales Management, sales team success, sales playbook, increasing sales, sales assessment, get more sales, sales coaching, sales training

David Fletcher

Written by David Fletcher

David Fletcher is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Maven Sales Group, a HubSpot Sales Partner and sales enablement firm located in the Washington, DC area. David is also the Sr. Global VP of Sales for ClearSale, Maven's largest client, which is a fraud management and protection services company. David is a graduate of The George Washington University, graduating with dual majors in Business Management and Criminal Justice. After graduation, David stayed in the DC area as a sales professional before starting his own systems integration firm. Once his firm was acquired, David moved on to become the President of a marketing agency providing HubSpot Consulting and inbound sales strategies to B2B clients. David has a unique perspective on sales and marketing in which David doesn’t approach issues as a “sales problem” or a “marketing problem”, but as a “revenue problem”. As a seasoned sales and marketing professional, David has worked with the HubSpot product development teams in an effort to create a better user experience for HubSpot customers. David enjoys reading, golfing, fishing and the outdoors. He lives in Lake Shore, MD with his business partner & wife Shannon, and their 5 sons.

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