Sales Coaching for Digital Success

Why Your Team Needs Effective Sales Coaching for Digital Selling Success

Effective sales coaching is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done event. This is especially true when it comes to mastering social selling. Though digital prospecting may seem straightforward, it requires behavior change, reinforcement, and continuous training.

If you’re looking to mobilize your sales team as social sellers, a half- or full-day training session simply isn’t enough. In fact, I say you’re better off not doing it and saving your money!

In my conversation with our CMO Bernie Borges, I explain why you need the right “gear” before prospecting for potential new clients. For many sales teams, this requires a shift in mindset and behavior, which simply can’t be achieved in a day of training. Instead, you need digital selling coaching over the course of 15 weeks, supplemented with ongoing coaching.

Watch the video or keep reading to learn what the gear is, why simplifying digital selling for your salespeople is crucial, and how to provide effective digital sales coaching for your team.

Effective sales coaching is not a one-and-done event, especially when it comes to mastering social selling! Learn more with #DigitalSales experts @M_3Jr and @BernieBorges. #SalesCoaching #SocialSellingClick To Tweet

What is Sales Coaching?

Modern buyers are more digitally connected than ever, they feel more comfortable doing research on their own and connecting with sales reps later in the buying process. Gartner’s research points out the importance of being a “sense maker” for the buyer.

Therefore, modern sellers need to learn the skills to attract, approach, and engage with buyers earlier in the process. This is why sales leaders must launch an effective coaching program that teaches those skills, but most importantly, that creates behavioral change.

But before anything of this can happen, you must set the stage. And, I like to use a fishing analogy to explain it: “Before you teach someone how and where to fish, you have to make sure they have the right gear.”

Let me explain it further.

Preparing The Right Gear

While LinkedIn provides the perfect platform for your B2B sellers to connect with prospects, they need to have the right gear before they reach out.

Fishing tackle should be at the top of your list when you’re planning a fishing trip. You need rods, reels, bait, lures, a net, and maybe a boat. When it comes to social selling, the list of gear starts with a LinkedIn profile that includes messaging to attract your targeted customers.

Yes, you can explain to your salespeople how to rewrite their LinkedIn profiles, but how many will actually do it? At Vengreso, we regularly read profiles that are poorly written and/or boasting about their sales chops -— “quota crushing closer” –— which is a complete turn-off to the buyer!

This approach works against (not for) sellers! Rather, sales leaders should invest in having their seller’s profiles written for them by experienced professionals, as we have done for thousands of sellers through our LinkedIn® Profile Makeovers.

You’ll make it easy for your sellers to boost their confidence because they’ll know that a team of experts wrote the copy uniquely for them. Plus, telling the right story will give you peace of mind. You’ll know with certainty that all your sellers have consistent messaging built in collaboration with your Marketing team. Then, your sellers will be ready to connect with buyers.

Using the Right Bait

The next item is bait — content that enables your sales team to reel in the big ones. Vengreso calls this, Content for Sales Enablement. According to Forbes, 70% of B2B buyers consume content from the vendors they research during the buying process.

Sharing content with their audience develops your sellers’ thought leadership in the industry and is key to achieve modern sales success. Buyers will organically connect with your reps when looking for solutions to their pain points because they’re already a trusted source of information.

How to Cast Your Reel

Finally, once you’ve packed your gear and you’ve hooked your bait, now you have to coach your sellers on how to cast the reel. In terms of digital selling, this means how you plan to deliver the content to your salespeople.

An employee advocacy tool will make it easy for your team to distribute the content. Plus, this also boosts your brand’s reach! Two possible advocacy options are EveryoneSocial or GaggleAMP.

Yet, tools are just tools if your sales reps don’t know how to use them. In order for your sellers to achieve success, you need to provide coaching on how to effectively use them.

Coaching Sellers on Where to Cast Their Line

Even with the right gear, the right bait, and knowing how to cast your reel, successful fishermen also know where to cast their line. And, they don’t learn that through a half-day training! The modern sales leader needs to be an effective coach. Sellers cannot blindly prospect without knowing how to network and engage with their prospects. Regardless of how well your sales reps perform, they can always improve. You must coach them on specific techniques to turn their weaknesses into strengths.

After all, if Lebron James needs a coach, so do your sellers!

Effective Sales Coaching + The Right Gear = #DigitalSelling Success. Find out what the components of an effective #SalesTraining are from #DigitalSales Transformation pioneers, @M_3Jr and @BernieBorges. #SocialSales #SalesTipsClick To Tweet

Why Is Sales Coaching Important?

According to HubSpot research, most salespeople rely on their peers and managers as their most influential source of knowledge. This verifies the need for sales coaching to help your sellers achieve quota, but also for their career growth and development.

What are your coaching goals? The best sales coaches teach their sellers how to effectively use digital selling techniques, such as how to:

With this type of continuous support for improvement, salespeople are put in a place where they are more likely to succeed. Now, they have the gear, the bait, the reel, and they know where to cast their line.

Benefits of Sales Coaching

As I’ve explained above, effective sales coaching has many benefits, but I want to highlight three benefits and add some proof from our experience training B2B sales teams from all over the world.

Effective sales coaching improves seller’s performance, the organization’s bottom line and the customer experience. How do I know that?

Because one of the requisites to graduate from our digital sales training program Selling with LinkedIn is to fill out a survey (and we achieve one hundred percent completion rate on the survey).

The results are consistent with the behavioral change in the areas we target as the course’s objectives:

1. Sellers’ performance

Have you ever wondered, how coaches can improve team performance? An effective sales coaching program will improve the overall performance of your sales reps. For instance, participants in our program consistently improve their LinkedIn prospecting, start more sales conversations and book more appointments even during the 15 weeks of the program.

2. Revenue

Similarly, our students have closed deals during the training program, and our clients have reported sales increases up to one million dollars that can be attributed to the skills learned during our sales coaching.

3. Customer experience

Surveys from our training programs have also shown that when sellers contact prospects using our cadences and scripts, they feel better served and more willing to engage with sellers.

Six benefits of having a digital sales coach

From your sellers’ perspective, they have a lot to gain from having you as a digital sales coach. Here are six of those benefits:

1. Their questions – answered specifically for them.

Training is often a one-size-fits-many endeavor, covering as much as possible in as little time as possible. Time is money – until a seller gets stuck midway through doing something they know will grow their sales, but they don’t know how to complete it. As a digital sales coach you will answer their questions specifically, as they apply to their work.

2. Rounding out and deepening their learnings. 

Most training programs cover a lot of ground quickly, to make sure everything gets covered in the time allotted. If there were things sellers had questions about, they may have been answered in training …or maybe not. Or they may have just hoped someone would notice that they were struggling and would them you out. A one-on-one digital sales coach can go deeper into many topics, and round out training by answering specific questions.

3. Setting goals and holding them accountable for achieving them. 

While a great sales leader will help a seller set goals and be accountable for their outcome in the big picture, sometimes it’s that intermediate goal that gets a rep to the real goal. Maybe it’s the number of outbound requests made. Or the number of value-added conversations they have, or the amount of time spent researching before they make a request. A digital sales coach can help sellers set meaningful goals, and hold them accountable for them.

4. Attaining more leads – faster.

You can work with your sellers to brainstorm titles, develop connection strategies, and devise ways of finding the ideal customer, to accelerate their lead generation.

5. Developing deeper relationships – faster.

You can help your reps come up with ideas to deepen their relationships online, which can lead to offline connections.

6. The opportunity to bounce ideas off an expert with an outside view – with no bias or prejudice.

Sometimes sellers just need someone else to throw ideas at: I’ve tried this, what about that? Maybe this will work. Some of my best ideas have come from my coaches – not to mention ideas I get from those I coach who ask for feedback on something I’d never even thought of. Often I can add to the idea and make it even stronger.

Sales Coaching Best Practices

As I mention in the video, the best sales training programs are more than just one-day events. Coaching your team is an ongoing process to achieve digital selling success.

The first thing you need to establish is your coaching strategy. Personalize your action plan to meet your team’s current influence on relevant digital channels such as LinkedIn. Once you find your team’s weaknesses, you can recognize how to improve different aspects of your digital selling strategy.

Your coaching strategy must include different aspects, such as teaching new skills, opportunities to practice those skills, and opportunities for feedback and interaction with the team.

As explained before in this blog, effective virtual sales training programs should be a minimum of eight weeks and have some of these characteristics:

  • Use testing and repetition to reinforce learning.
  • Divide materials into chunks spaced throughout the program.
  • Use video, high-impact visual aids, and music as a central delivery tool.
  • Combine live training sessions with on-demand modules and live coaching sessions.

Four Social Selling Questions Sales Coaches Ask Their Team

The questions below are straight to the point, and can easily be answered by having your rep pull up their LinkedIn profile. The four questions to ask sellers to perform digital sales coaching are:

  1. How many LinkedIn connections do you have at that account?
    The number of LinkedIn connections correlate to how broad your sales reps’ networks are at a prospect’s organization. According to LinkedIn, there is an average of 6.8 buyers involved in the decision-making process. If your sales reps only have one or two connections at the company, then they’re missing some of the buyers. Coach them on how to grow their network and connect with relevant people at the account.
  2. Who can introduce you to the decision-makers and influencers?
    According to Nielsen, 84% of buyers trust brand referrals from people they know. Ask your team if they know someone who can refer them to an influencer or decision-maker. If the answer is no, you need to teach them strategies on how they can find someone who can provide an introduction.
  3. Have you socially surrounded all 6.8 buyers within your account?
    This ties into the first question and helps you determine if you need to coach your reps on how to properly network with the people around the decision-makers. Provide sellers with tips on how to get introductions and referrals from outside and inside the account. Additionally, guide them on how to engage with other members of the organization who may not be directly involved with the buying process.
  4. What’s the last thing you posted on LinkedIn and why?
    This question helps you determine if the content they share on LinkedIn is helpful to the target buyers at a specific account. The answer can help you, as their sales manager, to coach them on curating engagements on their posts, as well as how to share the right content.

Early on in the process of adapting digital selling techniques with your team, don’t be surprised if they answer with below-average responses. From there your sales coaching strategy has a clear goal, which you and your team can now work on together, using these four questions as a guide.

There are FOUR #SocialSelling questions sales coaches ask their team for better #sales coaching strategies. Learn more about these questions from #DigitalSales experts @M_3Jr and @BernieBorges. #SalesCoaching #DigitalSellingClick To Tweet

Sales Coaching Advice to Help You Master Social Selling on LinkedIn

  1. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for your buyers. In LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales Report, 62% of respondents said they look back at the profiles of sellers that reach out to them. Knowing this fact, are you making the best first impression? Instead of positioning your LinkedIn Profile as a resume, make it a resource. Explain who you help, how you help, and the business problem that you solve. Learn more about what you should include in your profile in our Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Profiles for Sales Professionals.
  2. Identify your buyer’s preference for communication. You can start by creating a cadence. Here’s a simple way to find out if they’re engaged on social media. Follow them on LinkedIn. Following a buyer does two things, it shows your buyer you’ve viewed their profile and sends them a notification that they’ve been followed.  If they haven’t looked back at your profile after 48 hours you might surmise that they’re not too active on LinkedIn. Your next step can be to look for a digital referral, next send an email, send a video message via LinkedIn messaging, and then call them after another day passes. LinkedIn recently launched a voicemail feature in conjunction with Messaging. I don’t recommend sending those to a new contact unless you are welcoming that individual to your network. Voicemails are better for people with whom you already have a relationship.
  3. Follow the PVC Methodology. PVC stands for Personalize, Value, and Call to Action (CTA). It takes time to build a relationship with anyone in person, and the same thing applies while social selling on LinkedIn. First, you need to personalize your communications, then provide the other person with value in the way of content, and only then should you consider making an ask.  However, you should also note that a CTA doesn’t mean you are asking for a meeting. Rather, it might be you are simply asking a question, gaining confirmation, or soliciting a response by asking for the person’s opinion. This sales methodology can be applied to any form of digital engagement including connection requests, email, video messages, and cold messages.
  4. Don’t use non-personalized message templates. If you can’t authentically personalize to the individual, then personalize at a minimum to the buyer persona.  How? Figure out what business problems you are solving for and start changing your conversation to speak to those problems. I recommend that sales professionals take a message like the one below and customize it to their buyers and their buyers’ problems. “Generally, there are two problems that other {your buyers, e.g., IT Managers} face. {Problem one} and {problem two.}”
  5. Shift from measuring productivity to measuring outcomes. This final tip is for my fellow sales leaders. Sales reps need time to build relationships with their buyers. Measuring how many calls they make, how many emails they send, or how many new LinkedIn connections they have is irrelevant if they’re not producing conversations with their new connections.  Social selling training takes time to create impact but when done correctly, the results should be a lot more C2C (connections to conversations).

Do you want more sales coaching tips? Then listen to this podcast episode of The Modern Selling Podcast to hear from Scott Miller, Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership at FranklinCovey Co.

Coach Your Sales Team to Digital Selling Success

Guide your team through ongoing sales coaching to keep them prepared for their next catch. The key to improving your sales team’s performance is effective sales coaching that mentors each team member.

Do you want to boost your ROI by coaching your sellers to prospect and start more sales conversations?

Download our PVC Sales Methodology Guide to discover how digital sales coaching can help you sellers prospect and start more sales conversations more effectively.

Mario Martinez Jr.

Mario is the CEO and Founder of Vengreso. He spent 85 consecutive quarters in B2B Sales and Leadership. He is one of 20 sales influencers invited to appear in the Salesforce.com documentary film “The Story of Sales” launched in 2018.  He was also named 2019’s Top 10 Sales Influencers by The Modern Sales Magazine, 2018’s Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professional and Selling Power Magazine’s 2018 Top Sales Training and Coaching Consultant.  Mario is the host of the popular The Modern Selling Podcast.

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