Sales coaching is an art and a science. And it’s a key component to effective sales management. In fact, today’s sales leaders count coaching as one of their top priorities at work, investing more time and effort now than ever before. Yet not all salespeople who get coached—even by the best coaches—do better.

Keep these tips in mind to help your teams get results:

FOCUS ON THE MIDDLE

Leaders often prioritize the top and bottom performers on their teams. They want the lowest performers to meet their quotas, and they want to help the best reps keep doing what they’re doing. But what about the middle?

Sales Executive Council leaders and authors of The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adams, explored how sales reps performed and how often they met their targets—from the highest performers to the lowest. They found that coaching didn’t make as significant an impact with the weakest or strongest performers. Instead, with the right tools, average-performing reps made the most progress—successfully delivering a buying experience that led to growth and customer loyalty.

When all is said and done, who you coach matters just as much as how you coach.  

REWARDS AND INCENTIVES WORK—IF THEY’RE EFFECTIVE

Sales contests, incentives, and individual prizes work when they’re changing behaviors, not reinforcing existing ones.  It isn’t as helpful to just offer cash to the first rep that makes a sale that day.

Are there things that your sales team is doing that you’d like them to stop? Or things they aren’t doing that you’d like them to? Design your contests and personal rewards around those actions. It might look like extra incentives for team members who hit a target number of sales for a specific product or working with an individual rep to identify opportunities for improvement and rewards for that improvement.

If you’re not sure what to offer as a prize, learn what motivates your team members. Don’t be afraid to ask them directly.

LEARN WHAT DRIVES YOUR TEAM

Each person on your team is unique. And programs like rewards and incentives work best when you understand what each salesperson’s drivers are. Yes, most of them are motivated by making money, but their goals for that money are probably different. Someone might be saving for a wedding, another might be paying off student loans. And some of your reps probably work in sales because they are self-motivated and enjoy the autonomy.

Take the time to get to know your team. Learn what their priorities are in their personal and professional lives. Ask them about their short and long term goals, how they get and stay motivated, and discuss what steps to take if they don’t seem motivated—for both you and the individual rep. These insights will help you understand how to coach each individual effectively, as well as help you get a better view of your team as a whole.

And in these conversations, tell your team members how they’re contributing to the company’s success. Give them more than financial goals, setting targets that help them feel fulfilled in ways that aren’t just monetary. Help them think beyond quotas and selling specific amounts. Instead, identify what matters to them—is it breaking a company record? Or selling in a specific market/industry?

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