Sales managers used to think of sales coaching as a tool for improving employee performance in the moment and discouraging poor habits. Unfortunately, the sales rep generally doesn’t significantly alter their behavior in response to this input. Instead, it reinforced their already-held belief that their management viewed them negatively due to their lackluster performance.
Treating feedback and coaching as though they were the same thing is the root of the problem. This essay will identify the key differences between these two terms and describe how they manifest in the day-to-day interactions between managers and salespeople. And if you’re in a rush, you can go right to the data you require.
Feedback at work is the process of giving employees information, views, and ratings about their work, behavior, or work-related outcomes.
There are several advantages to receiving and giving feedback because of its role as a communication and growth tool.
Sales Feedback Advantages
- Performance Enhancement: Giving critical feedback to reps helps them realize their own strengths and flaws, allowing them to better their abilities and overall performance.
- Goal Alignment: Feedback allows salespeople to connect their goals with the objectives of the firm, ensuring that everyone is working toward the same goals and enhancing overall productivity.
- Motivation and Engagement: Regular feedback develops a culture of continuous growth, motivating salespeople to be more engaged and satisfied with their jobs.
Coaching in the workplace is a supportive and developmental approach in which managers provide employees with encouragement and skill development to help them realize their full potential and develop.
Coaching offers its own advantages because it focuses on the individual sales professional and their objectives.
Sales Coaching Advantages
- Skill Development: Coaching assists salespeople in developing and refining their selling skills, such as prospecting, objection handling, and negotiation, resulting in increased sales performance.
- Accountability and Ownership: Salespeople get a sense of accountability for their accomplishments by coaching, establishing an ownership culture and empowering them to take initiative in their sales activities.
- Personal Development: Coaching provides salespeople with opportunities for personal development, allowing them to acquire new tactics, gain confidence, and advance their professional development, all of which leads to increased sales results.
Differences Between Sales Feedback and Coaching
1. Feedback is manager-focused, coaching rep-focused.
Receiving feedback can often leave sales reps feeling discouraged, even if it can make managers feel good about themselves. The goal of feedback is for management to communicate their assessment of a representative’s performance, although it very rarely results in an actual change in behavior.
However, the rep and their own personal development are the primary focuses of coaching at all times. If a sales representative gives a good response to coaching, it is because they have a genuine interest in self-improvement and want to gain a deeper comprehension of their own capabilities and limitations.
2. Feedback reveals flaws, whereas coaching emphasizes strengths.
When a manager starts a sentence with “You’re doing an excellent job, but…”, it’s rather obvious to the representative that they’re about to receive some constructive criticism. Feedback is typically directed toward actions or habits that managers want sales representatives to modify or eliminate.
On the other hand, the purpose of coaching is to capitalize on and amplify the representative’s current skills, both for the individual’s benefit and for the company as a whole. A manager, for instance, might recommend to a sales representative that if they are particularly skilled at developing relationships with individuals involved in procurement, they should approach their contacts at other businesses for recommendations. The focus of coaching should be on maximizing strengths rather than improving deficiencies.
3. Feedback can be spontaneous, whereas coaching is deliberate.
Any moment is appropriate to provide feedback; there is no need for advance planning or scheduling. It is possible to provide it on the spot, answering any immediate concerns or observations that may have been made.
On the other hand, coaching calls for active participation and cooperation on the part of both the management and the representative being coached. It is a process that requires more forethought and preparation, and it also requires a willing participant.
The process of coaching should be treated as a special occasion by managers, who should formally inquire of representatives as to whether or not they would like to be trained. This guarantees that coaching is respected and given its due importance. In addition, supervisors should schedule distinct blocks of time on their calendars to be used only for coaching sessions.
4. Feedback is impersonal, whereas coaching is.
The value of a sales representative is not reflected in the manager’s opinion of the representative’s performance. Managers should avoid making comments personal by emphasizing their own point of view with “I” expressions.
I’d rather hear someone remark, “I prefer khakis and do not like jeans,” than “You shouldn’t wear jeans to a customer’s office.” This method aids in keeping a businesslike tone and lessens the likelihood that criticism will be perceived the wrong way.
Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on the individual. It’s all about the salesperson’s unique abilities, ambitions, and achievements. One way to strengthen the bond between coach and rep is to use “you” comments and structure coaching activities with the rep in mind. It’s important to approach coaching and feedback as two distinct activities.
Understand coaching vs. feedback.
The combination of feedback and coaching can result in confusion and poor development; however, if sales managers clearly distinguish between the two, they can ensure that their representatives get the most out of both experiences. Embrace the power of coaching by giving representatives the autonomy they need to capitalize on their advantages and complete their objectives.