As a sales manager, it can be tricky to coach your sales team effectively as well as getting through your own workload.

Too often training sessions can be postponed and sales managers end up relying too much on metrics and deadlines to drive sales.

However, coaching is essential and it’s important that your team is constantly learning and developing. This is not only key for individual job satisfaction, but crucial to the overall success of your team.

Traditionally, the solution was an uninspiring presentation and reams of hard copies, but here I aim to show you how coaching is more effective when it’s practical, given in real-time and – most of all – consistent across the team.

Start with role play

Training is most effective when you need to put what you’ve learnt into action straight away.

You can either start by explaining something you want your team to develop and then watch it in action, or you can just put them in a common sales situation and see how they handle it. Either way, practical, hands-on training forces sales people to think on their feet and you can easily spot what each team member needs to improve on.

For instance, you could try elevator pitches, cold calls and negotiation tactics; all of which should give you an insight into how your team operate and what they could do to increase the chances of making a sale. For example, does an agent talk too much and neglect to listen to the prospect? Are they over-educating instead of ‘selling’? There are plenty of common mistakes, which become easy to spot in a role play situation.

Plus, with this kind of training, you can also see how your team work in the CRM application itself to ensure processes are consistent and efficient.

Standardise processes with consistent training

It’s quite possible to have a great sales team and a great CRM, but to have problems forecasting accurately. This is because, if not every sales person uses the CRM in the same way, information can be lost and the team will be much harder to manage. Plus, inaccurate forecasting could have a direct impact on the business’ goals.

That’s why training needs to be consistent, relevant and simple – whether you’re hiring a recent graduate or an experienced sales rep. No matter how much experience a person has, you need to ensure that everyone in your organisation follows the same processes. Training should truly support reps in the sales cycle – from the first conversations they have with a prospect, to face-to-face meetings, and the operations and finance process – it should provide everything that is required. We implement this best practice at NewVoiceMedia, and it’s a process that works.

Real-time tracking allows you to give instant feedback

Real-time tracking is a great tool because it allows you to provide intelligence around call frequency, quality and conversion metrics in real time, giving sales management the opportunity to provide instant feedback. Instead of waiting until a review or any other time where you’re officially “checking in” with a sales person, it’s often better to give feedback as you go, so they can act on it straight away.

Plus, up-to-the-minute tracking allows you to make adjustments to processes as and when needed, giving your team greater flexibility as well as more guidance if needed.

It’s also important to remember that real-time coaching is more effective because it’s rooted in the job itself. Saving up feedback for a review or pre-planned catch-up can mean that the feedback has lost its context – whereas in the moment, you can put your coaching into perspective and explain how the mistake could impact the pipeline or forecasting.

Coaching your team in this way is easy with ContactWorld for Sales because it gives you access to a real-time dashboard and rich historical data.

Record calls for further training

Alongside the instant feedback you can give based on the real-time CRM data, ContactWorld for Sales allows you to record calls for training and legal compliance.

This can work as a great follow up to the role play sessions – as you can analyse what they’ve learnt in a real life situation. Listening to a real call is often the best way to determine how well a sales reps is doing because facts and figures often don’t tell the whole story – they don’t show you why a call was successful or not.

The ability to evaluate a sales person’s performance like this allows you to coach them effectively, ensuring that they’re always learning and developing. It’s certainly more effective than a PowerPoint presentation!

If you change the way you think about training to become more real-time, more hands-on and with greater emphasis on consistency, you can develop your team into a highly-effective selling machine.

Do you have any tips for developing a successful sales team? Share your experiences below.