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    What Is a Sales Coaching Cadence and How Do You Build One?

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    A good sales coaching cadence is one of the keys to effectively elevating your sales team. While many companies settle for coaching that happens ad hoc around a water cooler or only when an employee is struggling, top companies invest in proactive, ongoing, consistent coaching that addresses all of the major aspects of professional development for their sales teams.

    Coaching delivered in an effective cadence provides structure, ongoing support, and accountability and forms a hub for overall employee development and performance improvement.

    What Is A Coaching Cadence?

    A coaching cadence is an ongoing series of routine, scheduled interactions between a coach (usually the sales manager) and an employee (in this case, a salesperson). A great coaching cadence establishes a rhythm for the sales coach and the salesperson to address each major area of potential growth, and includes multiple types of coaching at different times.

    A great coaching cadence builds a rhythm to address growth areas and includes multiple types of coaching at different times.

    It leaves room for ad hoc and pop-up coaching sessions to occur naturally, while not relying on chance to ensure that a salesperson’s performance development needs are met.

    How To Build an Effective Sales Coaching Cadence

    Your coaching cadences should be specific and tailored to the needs of your organization and the individuals within it. However, to get you started building your own coaching cadences, here are some common types of coaching to include, along with suggested timing and frequency.

    Onboarding Sales Coaching

    Onboarding sales coaching, as its name implies, should happen at and during the onboarding process. It can help the salesperson to understand their goals within their new role, as well as set early targets and identify steps to achieve them. But it should also focus on uncovering the new employee’s individual mindsets and motivations, so the coach can be effective in coaching and managing them long term.

    Tapping into the individual’s priorities and internal drivers during onboarding sets the stage for coaches and their teams to develop a productive long-term relationship. What happens in these coaching conversations can be referred to throughout the salesperson’s career with the company, to support their internal motivation to grow.

    Annual Sales Coaching

    Annual sales coaching conversations are a great time to check in and refer back to onboarding coaching conversations, as well as to review the past year and plan for the upcoming. During these sessions, coaches should review the individual’s primary goals and motivators, and fine-tune them to match where they are at this point. It’s also a time for coaches to help salespeople identify their personal goals for the coming year and develop a strategy and tactics for achieving those goals.

    Quarterly Sales Coaching

    Quarterly coaching may follow a similar structure to annual coaching, but at a more granular level. Quarterly coaching calls are a great time for a regular “reset” and alignment with the annual and larger goals, to measure progress so far, and to make any adjustments necessary.

    Weekly Sales Coaching

    Some great sales coaches meet as often as twice weekly for scheduled coaching calls. Others meet only once a week. These frequent check-ins are a good time to help salespeople stay aligned with their high-level goals, while planning their daily and weekly activities to achieve them.

    A twice-weekly schedule can incorporate Monday meetings to set targets and go over the planned activities for the week, identify any challenges or potential problems, work through them, and set the salesperson up for success. A Friday coaching conversation can review those targets and activities, celebrate achievements, and discuss any issues, obstacles, or problems that came up during the week. Alternately, coaches may do both review and planning in the same session.

    These frequent coaching conversations provide an opportunity for ongoing course correction and routinely improving performance, as well as for the coach to help the salesperson identify where they need to gain skills or choose more effective activities.

    By meeting weekly or twice weekly, managers can avoid the “rear view mirror” effect that often happens with less-frequent coaching and instead make improvements to performance in real time.

    Pipeline and Opportunity-Based Sales Coaching

    Pipeline and opportunity-based sales coaching should occur on a regular basis. They can be incorporated into routine coaching sessions, or offered as “pop-up” sessions based on problems or upcoming opportunities.

    Pipeline coaching centers around the overall health of the sales pipeline. It can help salespeople identify where they can focus to improve both the size of their pipeline and the velocity of it, plus win/loss rates and how well they’re performing at different stages of the pipeline. Analyzing the pipeline together can help coaches and their salespeople see where the salesperson needs more skills or activities in order to improve pipeline performance.

    Opportunity coaching is similar, and focuses on individual opportunities within the pipeline. It may focus on helping the salesperson identify key stakeholders, ask the right questions, or move the deal forward, for instance. This too can lead to identifying skills and activities for the salesperson to focus on developing and improving.

    Skills and Abilities Coaching

    In a well designed and executed coaching system tied to a consistent, milestone-based process, salespeople and their coaches will routinely uncover areas where the individual will benefit from upskilling. For instance, during weekly calls a salesperson and their coach may identify reluctance on the part of the salesperson to contact and establish relationships with high-level executives within the companies they’re addressing.

    Through questioning, the coach may help the salesperson understand that their reluctance is due to a lack of understanding for the business concerns that executives ask about, and a general lack of confidence resulting from that. Now the salesperson understands that in order to get better at reaching out to and building rapport with these stakeholders, they need to develop stronger business acumen. A great coach can in turn use this opportunity to connect the salesperson with opportunities to develop business acumen, including training, education, and other resources.

    These discoveries can happen at any place in the sales process where coaches and their teams identify slow-downs and blocks, as well as during any type of coaching. These are the points at which coaching becomes the lynchpin in professional development, helping individuals connect their need for skills and abilities with the resources to improve them.

    Pop-Up Coaching

    Sometimes, the most valuable coaching is the coaching that occurs impromptu based on real-time needs and concerns. A great coaching cadence leaves room for pop-ups. 

    A coach might initiate these unscheduled sessions to check in with teammates from time to time and open the door for questions, concerns, and any matters that might otherwise fly under the radar. Likewise, a salesperson might initiate one to address some issue or question that comes up in the course of their work.

    Pop-up sessions can be very brief, or they might become extended. They can happen in the break room or as a quick drop-in, or include longer formats such as dropping in on sales calls followed up by a conversation, or closed-door sessions where a larger issue is discussed in a timely manner and given the space it needs to be addressed.

    Organizations that cultivate and support a strong coaching culture and structure consistently outperform their competitors, retain talent, and grow stronger over time. It’s worth it. I would love to hear your experiences: How often are your managers coaching? Do you have a formal cadence? How well is it performing?

    George Brontén
    Published June 5, 2024
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn