Becoming a World-Class Sales Coach Is Easier Said Than Done

There are various types of coaches in our society, and all of them have varying roles and levels of responsibility. Some reach far and require more robust skillsets than others. To illustrate what I’m saying here, let’s look at three examples:

  • The swing coach of a golfer is responsible for ensuring the mechanics of the golfer’s swing are sound while in practice. But that’s about it; They’re not out on the course with the golfer in the middle of a tournament, nor are they responsible for coaching the golfer on how to develop a healthy psychology on the course (among other facets of the golfer’s game). 
  • The head coach, or “manager,” of a soccer team is responsible for developing the right formation and strategies in training, making tactical tweaks and adjustments from game to game, and making the right substitutions during a game. However, ultimately, once the clock starts running, the players are on the pitch and the manager has little control.
  • The head coach of a football team is responsible for designing a cunning playbook in the offseason that fits the roster’s skillset, choosing approximately 100 of those plays to have available for the next game, calling approximately 65 plays per game, choosing when and when not to take timeouts in-game, choosing when and when not to throw their “challenge” flag, etc. They have SO much say in what happens before, during, and after the game.

As you can see, the breadth of coaching a golfer’s swing coach is involved in is neither as large as a soccer manager’s, nor the head coach of a football team’s.

Switching gears from professional sports to the (much more realistic for 99% of us who aren’t nearly that athletic) world of sales, what do sales coaches do? How far-reaching are their responsibilities and roles? What kind of skillset is a sales coach required to have?

All good questions

In short, it varies SO. MUCH. Sales coach jobs differ by:

  • the employee audience they’re coaching,
  • the level of experience and expertise those employees have,
  • the size of the team,
  • the size of the organization,
  • how many other sales coaches there are in the organization,
  • the organization’s product or service offering,
  • and so much more.

However, this doesn’t answer our questions. In order to find reasonable answers, we need to simplify the questions scope to just these two: How would the best sales coach coach? And, what do great sales coaches universally have that fits across all sales coaching positions?

Here’s what I think. The best sales coach is a personal sales coach, and they practice coaching for sales performance in more ways than one.

Why the best sales coaches are personal

Sales reps are screaming for personalization. In fact, 75% of employees value personalization based on things like career goals and skill gaps because they know it massively impacts the businesses they work for and their personal careers. 

But, it’s not just employees who know this: Harvard Business Review claimed in a study, “…no other productivity investment comes close to coaching in improving reps’ performance.”

Unfortunately, individual sales coaching isn’t every organization’s or manager’s reality. According to the Sales Management Association, 73% of sales managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching. But it should be! Top sales experts at the Sales Readiness Group found that 65% of sales managers at high-impact organizations spend more than 20% of their time coaching, versus 51% of average performing organizations, and 40% of low performing organizations.

So, in summary, your employees are calling for more personalized support in their career and skill development (a.k.a. opportunities for coaching), but they’re more than likely not getting it. In order to become the best sales coach for your reps and for the business, you need to start becoming a personal sales coach.

Why it’s critical sales coaches diversify their areas of coaching

Oftentimes, what a rep perceives as coaching may be entirely different from what the sales leader perceives as coaching. A coaching study released in August 2018 identified that 48.2% of sales reps say they don’t receive coaching. Surprisingly, 82.1% of the sales leaders of these reps claim they are providing coaching for each member of their team. 

So, what gives? Letting go of deal and pipeline coaching needs to give, with a heightened focus on skill-focused coaching. Sales mentoring and coaching isn’t all about deal mechanics. Understanding each rep’s skillset should be one of your sales coaching best practices. Looking for the areas that need to improve within each of your reps is a crucial foundation that underlies some of your best sales coaching moments.

In summary, sales mentoring and coaching differs across the board: company to company, team to team, individual to individual. But, success with a sales team follows when coaching is personalized to each rep and diversified across deal coaching and skill development coaching.


Lessonly helps sales leaders personalize coaching at scale

Need a hand in rolling out coaching for each rep that scales? Lessonly is here to help. To learn more about how we help frontline sales teams deliver great deal and skill development coaching, book a 15-minute, exploratory, no-pressure chat with us at

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