How sales managers should conduct a field sales coaching day?

Few would argue that the best place to train salespeople is in the field, observing the salesperson selling to real customers. However, the things sales managers and sales management in general typically get wrong are:


1. Training is not carried out on a regular basis for essential professional selling skills.

2. Training objectives are unclear

3. The manager jumps in during the sales call in order to save the day

4. Too much, often inaccurate feedback is given

5. The salesperson is left demotivated and unclear as to what to do next

For the field sales coaching to take place effectively there needs to be clear ground rules set between trainer/sales manager and trainee/sales person on how sales performance will be assessed. The process of field sales and sales territory planning and routing training should be very specific. It should be:


- Clear
- Concise
-  Simple


The less training objectives you set the more effective the sales coaching results


Both the sales manager and the sales person need to be aware that changes in performance will not happen immediately and across the full range of selling skills.Because of this it is important to set clear training objectives that concentrate on covering a few training areas in depth, rather than a large range of objectives, with a view to producing quick results. 

The field sales coaching/training should be structured as follows:

Before starting the field sales coaching day

Specificity is the key of success for any field sales coaching and training. The coach/sales manager needs to focus on one key skill for each sales coaching day. Gain agreement from the trainee/sales person to concentrate on the sales skill for that day. Sales managers must keep in mind that some other development areas may arise during the day. These should be documented to be tackled on future field coaching days. To get the best results from your field coaching intervention, you must keep the focus on the one agreed upon skill for the day.


We will look at what happens during the call later on. In the mean time here is a checklist to aid your preparation skills.

Here is a checklist of actions to take that will help make your Professional sales training preparation more effective.



A field Sales Coaching Checklist For Sales Managers/Sales Coaches:

Before the training day

1.  Prepare the training day by speaking with the trainee/sales person yourself. Ensure a good mix of sales calls where possible.

2. Review the trainee's past performance the evening before. Look for evidence of sales activity,sales results, and commitments made on previous training days.

3. Decide your key training priority.

4. Arrange all necessary documentation.


At the start of the day

5. Be punctual, demonstrating that you have taken care and time in your preparation for the day.

6. Greet the trainee/sales person in a warm, supportive way.

7. Agree the training objective for the day, i.e.Your Prime Training Area and the Trainee's own sales objectives.

8. Create interest by selling the trainee the benefits to be gained from the training day.

9. Encourage the trainee/sales person to talk about his or her progress, problems and any issues that may be of concern.

10. Give the trainee/sales person good news on company progress, but don't gossip.

11.  Agree how you wish to be introduced to customers.

Before the Call

12. Establish what preparation and planning has been done by the trainee/sales person.

13. Establish what specific call objectives the trainee/sales person has set.

14. Question the trainee/sales person on any part of the call strategy that you consider to be a potential weakness.

15. Check how visual aids are intended to be used.

16. Rehearse. The importance of this cannot be over emphasised. The call for which you are both preparing is unique. It will only happen once. As`Director',`Producer' and `Stage Manager' it is your responsibility to ensure that the performance of your trainee/sales person is firstclass.

17. Take role-plays seriously and try to`think' yourself into the call situation.

18. Confirm your role in the sales call, which is to observe, so the `trainee' knows what to expect.

19. Ensure that,by the time you have completed the call preparation, your trainee regards you as part of his, or her `team';not a manager, trainer or mentor.

20. Smile and give encouragement to the trainee prior to entering the sales call.

During the sales call it is important for the sales trainer to remain passive and let the salesperson get on with the job. This enables the trainer to actively observe the call and make mental notes for the purpose of feedback after the call is over.

The most common mistake made by inexperienced trainers is to get involved in the sales process and interrupt the salesperson, effectively `saving the day'. This is wrong for two reasons.

1. It gets in the way of learning taking place.The salesperson who has been interrupted will say I was just about to say that and will fail to learn from the experience.

2. It causes resentment.The salesperson feels frustrated and can be made to look foolish in front of the customer.

For sales managers, especially, this is a real dilemma. It is important to realise, however, that in a field-training situation learning should take priority over the sale. Also, from the manager's point of view, if the salesperson can be trained effectively many more sales will result over the long term.


How Sales Managers/coaches should behave during a field sales coaching call to be most effective: 


Be Passive

1. Allow the trainee/sales person to make the introduction.

2. If possible, try to sit out of sight of the trainee/sales person so he or she can relax and forget you are there.

3. Look at the trainee/sales person rather than at the customer. This focuses the customer's attention on the trainee/sales person.

4. Relax.With any luck it may be contagious!

5. Show no emotion. This will have a calming effect on both the trainee/sales person  and the customer.


Observe and Listen

1. If you do speak during the call make sure this has been agreed previously with the trainee.sales person.

2. Be aware, at each stage of the sales call of what has happened and look out for points relating to the Primary training area.

3. Concentrate on the accuracy of your listening.


Make Mental Notes

1. Note the good and bad aspects of the call.

2. Look for skill improvements since your last training day.

3. Concentrate on observations relating to the Prime Training Area.

4. Look for observations on other training needs that may arise to be scheduled for future field coaching days

5. Look for the achievement of sales objectives.

6. Look for deviations from the sales call plan. Why were they made?

7. Look for examples of how the trainee's/sales person's perception of the call during the preparation phase was different in reality.


Post Call Analysis

After the call is over it is important to analyse the call and give feedback to the trainee/sales person. The Post-Call Analysis is most effective if carried out in the following way:


1. Find somewhere quiet to sit and analyse the call. Don't begin the analysis when you or the trainee/sales person are driving.

2. Compliment the trainee/sales person on one genuinely good aspect of the call but only if this is genuine.

3. Ask the trainee for his or her opinion of the call, before giving your feedback.

4. As with the sales process the most important skill in coaching is asking questions. Here is a sequence of questions to try:

  • How do you feel?
  • Talk me through the call. What happened?
  • What happened next?
  • We agreed that the prime training area was going to be objection handling. What objections did the customer raise?
  • How did you deal with the objection?
  • Let’s go back to the training we did on objection handling. We said there were 4 stages to the process. Do you remember what they were?
  • You are right. The 4 stages are listen, clarify the objection, deal with the objection then close, or move on. How well did you follow the process during the call?

Why don’t we have a practise. I’ll be the customer…..

5. Demonstrate points that have been highlighted either by giving information or role-playing informally with the trainee.

6. Our aim is to get the trainee to appraise his, or her performance before we give our feedback. The first 2 questions settle the trainee down and get them thinking objectively about what happened.

7. We introduce the theory from the training course to make sure they are doing things right. This means that the sales manager has to know the theory well.

8. Get the trainee to agree (by self appraisal and self criticism if possible):

  • What has been learned
  • The action that the trainee now needs to take
  • Commitments for progress in the future

Our aim is to get the trainee to appraise each call even when we are not there. When the manager gives feedback it is important that it is 3 things:

1. Relevant

2. Accurate

3. Specific

otherwise it won’t be effective.


Concluding the Training Day

Throughout the field sales coaching and training day you will have been discussing a number of sales skills with the trainee that you consider need improving. You may have demonstrated or role played some of them.

When all the sales calls have been made for the day, it is essential to summarise the main areas on which you would like the trainee to concentrate. This end of day discussion may be compared to a close in a sales discussion.

The following procedure is recommended:

1. Thank the trainee for an interesting day. Mention any occasions when you noted the trainee using sales skills in a particularly effective way, plus any humorous incidences. Keep it light.

2. Review briefly:

   a) The Prime Training Area (Stick to one key development area for the field sales coaching day).

   b) The Future Training Areas (Document other issues you may observe and schedule for future field sales coaching days).

3. Look for commitment from the trainee/sales perosn to work hard to improve further on the sales skills area of the day. Emphasise what skills have been learnt by the trainee during the day in order to ensure that the trainee knows HOW to make full use of the skills in question.

4. Confirm with the trainee what further action has been agreed to be undertaken and ensure you record the agreements in writing. Commit yourself to providing a written training report within an agreed timescale.

5. Emphasise your willingness to give practical advice between field visits.

6. Agree with the trainee the Prime Training Area for the next field visit.

7. Conclude with words of encouragement and support.

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