Sales Coaching

Popular Sales Coaching Models (and How to Make Them Work For You)

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Clari Staff



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“Ugh. Why the H-E-double-hockey-stick do I need a sales coaching model, of all things? I follow my team, I hear their conversations and I tell them what they do wrong. Simple, right?”

I hear you. A sales coaching model might seem unnecessary, restrictive even. However, organizations with a formal coaching process achieve a whopping 91.2% of their quota, compared to just 84.7% in companies with an informal coaching process, so can you really afford to ignore it?

Oh, and that’s not all. Following a standardized coaching model has multiple tangible and intangible benefits for your organization.

4 essential benefits of adopting a sales coaching model:

Easy to identify key skill and knowledge gaps:

The first stop in the journey of coaching, in general, is identifying the coaching needs of your team. You need to know where your reps are slipping up and where they can improve. Is it in their interaction with customers? Is it in how frequently they follow up (or don’t)? Or is it as simple as how they structure their emails? A data-driven approach will help you identify where you need to apply corrective measures.

Encourages ownership to boost win rate:

Having a clearly-defined coaching process and model helps sales teams take ownership of their actions and decisions. It also helps them see how they affect others' performances. This often provides them with the impetus they need to improve their efforts in meeting goals.

Builds a virtuous cycle:

As you implement a defined sales coaching model, you will begin a virtuous cycle of development in your team. This means that new sales reps can quickly follow the leads of more experienced ones and emulate their behavior patterns. They'll have an easier time tapping from the experiences of mentors who have been through similar situations and followed a similar structure of learning.

Improves employee retention:

In the 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, a whopping 94% employees reported that they were more likely to stay at a company if they felt it invested in their careers. 68% said they preferred to learn at work as well.

While a bigger paycheck is certainly tempting, effective professional development has proven to be motivation for many to stay on at their jobs. Investing in a sales coaching model is a great way to show employees that you are serious about their growth as professionals. 

Sales coaching should be a habit, not an event. The best way to make sure it becomes a habit is to associate it with your existing processes. For example, you can conduct regular coaching sessions during your weekly team huddles or training meetings. You can also develop different trigger points that will prompt coaches to follow up with salespeople with relevant sessions.

What’s new about sales coaching: It’s gone virtual!

Marking goals on the whiteboard is as iconic as DiCaprio thumping his chest in the Wolf of Wall Street.

But the world is in a very different place today than it was even a couple of years back. Virtual sales coaching programs have proven to be far more effective and easier to implement than the traditional kinds.

According to McKinsey, almost 90% of sales have shifted to a remote model since the pandemic began. In the ‘work-from-anywhere’ world, virtual sales coaching models not only make more sense, but they take the data-driven approach to another level.

Here are some ways to incorporate “virtual” into your sales coaching programs:

  • Pre-recorded videos to eliminate the need of repeating the basics and help the sales managers to focus more on customizing the coaching for individual sales reps
  • Interactive scorecards, quizzes and video contests to gamify coaching experience
  • Cloud-synced virtual coaching content, notes and critical data for sales reps to access from anywhere in the moment of need

Essential elements of a sales coaching model

  • CRM and analytics platforms to make use of your enterprise data and more importantly, get insights into sales reps’ behavior, progress and conversion rates at every stage of the sales cycle.
  • Regularly scheduled meetings and sync-ups to keep the process ongoing and make it a part of the business operation, rather than sidelining it as something to do on “lighter” days that never seem to come.
  • Sales coaching software to track your sales team’s performance. Tools (like Clari Copilot) that let you listen in to sales calls while providing you with detailed insights about the calls at a glance are an essential part of the sales coaching ecosystem.

6 common yet effective sales coaching models

GROW: A goal-setting model

This model provides its structure by asking four basic questions.

  • Goals: Where do you want to be?
  • Reality: Where are you now?
  • Options: What are the roadmaps/options to achieve your goals?
  • Will: What are you willing to do out of those options?

As you can probably already tell, this method is about setting goals based on where you currently stand and exploring options to achieve them.

Pros Cons
Helps your sales reps set clear goals for a given time period and analyze ways to effectively accomplish them Doesn’t provide any guidance/ plan/ feedback to achieve the set goals

Let’s say your sales rep is closing ten deals per month and wants to set a goal to close five more. You can use the following questions to coach better:

  • Have you already taken any steps to increase your win rate?
  • Do you know where you lack when it comes to conversions?
  • How many months would you need to achieve that figure?

Although GROW has been a go-to sales coaching model for years, there are several other, more modern models that provide a bit more structure to sales coaching. Let’s explore them as well.

OSKAR: The sales therapist

This is a five stage coaching model:

  • Outcome or Objective: During this stage, the objective of the coaching session is defined
  • Scale: At this stage, the coach and coachee refine these goals and set them to a numerical scale of 1-10.
  • Know-how: Here, the coach helps the coachee understand the exact skills the latter needs to achieve the goals set earlier.
  • Affirm + Action: At this stage, the coach helps the coachee reflect and act on their problems by asking what they are already doing and what further action they can take to achieve the target scores that have been set.
  • Review: In a subsequent session, the coach follows up with the coachee, and holds them accountable for their actions, asks them what steps they have taken and the progress they have made.

You could consider OSKAR to be the guy who rationally and strategically helps you by encouraging you to explore and think about your problems. The problems can range from not being able to achieve sales goals to not being able to identify the reason behind why a lead didn’t convert, or even a failure to build a relationship with a client - OSKAR helps you think through it step-by-step until you find an answer.

Pros Cons
Emphasizes on progress and positive achievements, success and baby steps to build confidence, influence behavior and drive change in the long run Might not enable you to highlight where your coachee is going wrong, focusing only on the positive points and neglecting the negative ones

CLEAR: Listen to your rep 

  • Contract: At the beginning of the coaching session, this step helps to lay out the basic guidelines of how the session would proceed. 
  • Listen: As a sales manager, sales leader, or coach, you should enable your sales rep to discuss their problems. Ask catalytic questions, pursue active listening and ensure both of you understand the situation thoroughly.
  • Explore: Enable the employee to realize how their current situation affects them professionally. Know that this step has done the magic if your coachee has a “light-bulb”/ epiphany moment.
  • Action: Help them consider the potential options to resolve the situation and come up with a solution.
  • Review: This is where this model differs from the others. Here, the coach’s abilities are reviewed based on the feedback from the coachee.

Let’s say your sales rep’s prospects are not opening their email after the first call. In this case, you need to ask your coachee questions such as:

  • How does your first call generally go?
  • Is there a particular script that you follow?
  • What do your prospects sound like on the first call?
  • How long after the call do you send the first email?
  • Do you also send another email soon after?

Of course, the questions are just the beginning. Listen carefully to your rep’s answers and then dissect them to find the possible options and solutions.

Pros Cons
Provides sales managers with feedback on their performance and helps them promote employee growth while building a relationship with their sales team Doesn’t assess how well the sales rep did on taking action based on the provided feedback

AOR: A data-driven approach to boost sales

This model is based on the everyday sales activities and operations that your sales reps have control of and can impact. It presents you the opportunity to coach your reps every day by tracking their progress - without tracking too much and micromanaging, of course! 

  • Activities: Analyze trackable, quantifiable activities to coach your sales team for. The activities could be the number of emails sent, calls made, the time spent on calls, etc.
  • Objectives: Based on the activities you have selected to coach your reps for after your discussion with them, write down the objectives that can be achieved to improve the numbers and rates related to those activities.
  • Results: Track metrics such as closed:lost deals, talk:listen and other ultimate results to analyze how well your reps are doing in achieving their objectives.
Pros Cons
Driven by data, hence the objectives and accountability are transparent, promising and easier to track Sales reps have to come up with new strategies and ideas to gain more numbers which could be pressurizing for them

This coaching model is highly data-driven and we all know how powerful data-driven approaches can be. Another reason why this is an especially effective model is that it’s an ongoing process and gives you several opportunities to coach your sales team closely. This makes this process highly effective in improving your sales and ROI. Like everything data-driven, this too works in real-time!

CIGAR: Burning up those sales gaps

This sales coaching model is quite similar to GROW in terms of accessing your current position and deciding where to lead from there. The difference is that it is more focused on eliminating the gaps in the skills, operations and abilities of your sales reps. 

  • Current Reality: Where do you currently stand with respect to what you want to achieve?
  • Ideal: What’s the ideal situation you want to reach?
  • Gaps: What’s stopping you from reaching there? For example, is it your lack of interpersonal skills that doesn’t let you build customer relationships? Or are you reluctant and self-conscious when it comes to negotiating? 
  • Action: What can you do to eliminate those gaps? Do you need to be coached for soft skills? Or do you need negotiation skills coaching?
  • Review: The usual assessment of how far you have come. Can you close more deals now? Are you able to talk better? Do you find negotiation easier now?
Pros Cons
Helps your sales rep identify where they are lacking Doesn’t provide any roadmap to help sales reps fill the gaps

What lies at the heart of each model? Data.

So many models, and honestly, all of them work some of the time. The only constant being that for ANY of them to work, you need data. Accurate, amazing, data.

Be it close:lost ratio, number of emails opened, or time spent on calls – you need data to analyze activities, set goals, provide feedback and track results and progress. 

But doesn’t that lead to another organizational problem? 

You will need a team of data analysts to comb through all that stored data to build dashboards, crunch numbers and formulate figures to print reports. 

That’s just what Clari Copilot can help you with—actionable insights done for you!

When we say we give you insights that matter, we mean it! We analyze your sales reps’ call recordings at the back end to push insights to you - the ones which you can act upon. 

With our quick, simplified and click-based AI-powered sales analytics platform:

  • We fuel your in-office and virtual sales coaching models by providing you with a beginning point, based on your historical sales data. You can use that data to track activities, set goals and review the performance of your salespeople.
  • Our sales-alert companion helps you, the sales reps, execute your sales strategies better to implement what you have been coached for.
  • We deliver granular and valuable metrics like time spent on call, moments of hesitation, talk/listen ratio to help you better analyze your current and ideal position.

With intelligent insights to power your sales coaching models, you can now unlock data-driven sales coaching to turbocharge your conversions and win rate.