Sales coaching plays critical role in team motivation | Sunday Observer

Sales coaching plays critical role in team motivation

26 December, 2021

In an organisation, sales managers perform an exceedingly important role in bringing in revenue. Also, they are accountable for the long-term growth of the organisation apart from generating day-to-day income.

Therefore, naturally, they have a long list of responsibilities. Nevertheless, some of these are more important than others to drive the organisation to success. Among them, coaching the sales team towards achievement is one of the highest priorities of a sales manager. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of companies around the world and Sri Lanka underwent a gruesome phase in business. The negative effects of the pandemic are far from over. For the next few years, organisations have to rethink, re-strategise, and rework their sales efforts with a renewed dynamism.

Covid-19 has created a challenging time for salespeople all over the world. They were deprived of their usual practices due to stringent health restrictions.

Also, they were forced to stay away from customary selling methods. Most often, salespeople were compelled to interact online with prospects instead of having a face-to-face conversation that they were used to.

As an experienced field salesman myself, I know how a salesman feels about work-related restrictions.

Although the challenges in closing deals are not new to salespeople, the current situation adds authentic tension to the spirits of sales teams.  Hence, sales coaching practices are critical to keeping the sales teams motivated and occupied.

Three changes

Recent research on how Covid-19 has changed sales and skills relevant to selling reveals three distinct changes in markets; slow pipelines, work from home (WFH), and new buyer preferences. These changes directly apply to the Sri Lankan market as well.

The sales pipelines were drastically affected due to the decline of deal sizes and the reduced number of opportunities. Most customers have radically cut down their purchases, disposable incomes were reduced, and the purchasing capacity diminished due to either job losses or pay cuts.

While the Work From Home model was successful and negative effects were minimal to large companies, smaller organisations were forced to undergo severe revenue losses. Similarly, buyer preferences also changed significantly and posed threats to some markets. However, there were sectors such as online selling that thrived during this period despite all the restrictions.

Another fact is that due to the prolonged travel restrictions imposed by most countries, world tourism has come down to a virtual standstill. However, travellers who planned overseas or local leisure tours started spending on apparel with the monies reserved for travel.

Hence, the apparel market throughout the world has experienced positive growth soon after the health restrictions were relaxed.    

These are the reasons that the sales managers must be extra cautious about training and coaching their respective teams in the aftermath of the pandemic.

As the buyer shifts have taken place during the past two years, the sales staff must be coached to adopt different strategies and tactics to adjust to the new situation.

Due to the heavy use of the internet during the pandemic with lockdowns, customers have got accustomed to analysing markets much more than before. Most of them are more informed and knowledgeable at this time.

This observable fact has created the competition fiercer than ever before as most of the players in the market are adapting to the new norms. Hence, the sales approach also has to be in line with the enhanced knowledge of the customers.

It is a fact that most successful organisations spend considerable time and a substantial amount of money to train their sales staff.  However, unlike sales training programs where the individuals are trained on selling techniques, sales coaching takes a more personalised approach towards the holistic development of the sales team. Hence, coaching can be the better option right now.

In the ongoing situation of the sales arena, sales coaching helps identify the gaps created by the impact of the pandemic. Sales coaching must be directed at providing more custom-made solutions to cater to new needs.

Therefore, sales managers, at this point, must adjust themselves to offer more of a mentor-mentee relationship where the result is to refresh the nurturing of the sales team members, not merely to push them to sell more. 

At the outset, the sales manager should assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses compared to the pre-pandemic market conditions. In a team, members are different from each other in multiple ways.

Some of the members will be very confident in facing new challenges and some others will have negative opinions and need additional support. Hence, the one-size-fits-all approach may not work in the new market conditions.


Therefore, the sales manager, as a coach, has to make individual evaluations of team members separately. Also, the manager has to look at the personal traits to obtain accurate insights on individuals to direct them in the most appropriate path or segment. With this knowledge, the sales manager can divide the sales effort to suit the post-pandemic market.

For sales coaching to work effectively, sales managers must earn the trust of the team members. After an unexpected ghastly experience, some of the salesmen may not have recovered to their full potential. Hence, sharing personal and professional experiences during the pandemic period with the team members is a good method.

Exchanging and sharing experiences during the pandemic period can help to build a renewed relationship among themselves and with the manager. There are two goals in sharing relatable stories. On one hand, it can support the salesmen to understand that they are not struggling alone; and that there are ways and means to address and overcome challenges.

New consumer behaviour

Encouraging and supporting salespeople to do their self-evaluation must be done by the sales manager. The sales manager has to send his team again to the market with a new approach to match the new consumer behaviour. By letting the salespeople assess how to approach the new conditions, the manager encourages them to become more enthusiastic.  

During the entire two-year period, sales teams across the world were either completely deprived of training and coaching stints or transitioned into remote training models. In my experience as a sales coach, I have found that salespeople are always more focused on active work than training.

Often, even in a physical training room, getting them to concentrate on topics discussed is a challenge to the trainer. This happens due to the unique characteristics of professional salesmen. Hence, giving a virtual training or coaching session is always a challenge. Nevertheless, providing continuous sales training is an important task of a sales manager to keep the sales team updated on all aspects of the overall effort. Also, if properly conducted these training sessions can work as a morale booster for most of the team members. By making training or coaching sessions fun, collaborative, and competitive, a sales team can be encouraged to be more innovative and achieve better results with the prevailing opportunities.  

As discussed, with the disruption of Covid-19, many things changed in the everyday lives of the people.  Due to the change that occurred in consumer behaviour, sales processes, strategies, product offerings, and marketing methods were altered by the majority of companies.

The pandemic is not over yet and the complexity of pivoting the businesses is still causing friction.  Therefore, sales managers must coach their teams, perhaps less about selling products or services and more about the new processes of doing it.