Sales Coaching – What If Sales Enablement Does It?

Looking deeper into the question of who’s actually delivering the coaching for salespeople revealed some interesting facts. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check out my Sales Coaching – Who Is Doing It? blog. In a nutshell, sales managers and specialized coaches both achieve great – but slightly different – results in different situations. More important, with these insights, sales enablement leaders have more options to design the best strategy for their coaching initiatives, depending on the particular context in their organizations.

Today, let’s better understand how sales enablement professionals are doing as sales coaches. Based on our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, we learned that sales enablement professionals are the second-most important role when it comes to sales coaching (29.5%), right after sales managers (66.5%) and before external coaches and field sales coaches, which we discussed here.

The question is: What can sales enablement leaders learn from these insights to create the best possible sales coaching strategy, depending on their particular context?

Again, as I got a lot of questions on this, this blog and that one are not about what role is doing better per se, and this is definitely not meant to recommend one coaching role over another. Instead, the point is that context matters a lot, and the data is meant to be applied to your organization’s context to create value.

Here are some key findings from our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study:

  • In a random sales coaching environment, it doesn’t help if sales enablement does the coaching, as the win rates are more than 4.5 points below average. The same pattern applies if sales managers coach in a random environment. Only specialized coaches can achieve at least average results in a random coaching environment. Click here for details.
  • In a formal and dynamic coaching environment, ALL coaching roles achieve significantly better results. On average, the increase is 19.0% in win rates, compared to the study’s average of 46.4%.

The bottom line? It’s the sales coaching approach that sets all of your coaching roles up for success or failure. (Click to tweet)

For sales enablement leaders, there are tactical and strategic decisions to be made. From a strategic perspective, the right thing to do is to implement a formal or – even better – dynamic coaching approach across the organization. There are lots of details here, here and here. However, not only does it take time to get there, but enablement leaders also are often running into invisible and intangible resistance when it comes to business cases for sales coaching.

Get started with a coaching pilot, and leverage sales enablement’s coaching skills. (Click to tweet)

This is where the insights of leveraging different coaching roles comes into play and how to use them in a tactical way. Based on the findings in this blog and in this one, it makes sense to focus on a coaching pilot and on leveraging coaching roles other than the sales managers first. The whole purpose is to create a case for investing in a proper sales manager coaching initiative so that they can develop and apply the required coaching skills. Such a pilot doesn’t cost a lot, and it takes the “our sales managers have no time for coaching” objection away. A pilot can easily be set up; check out more details here.

Leverage sales coaches within sales enablement, field and external sales coaches for your pilot.

If you have professional sales coaches on your sales enablement team, this is the easiest way to move forward and get the pilot started; you don’t need any further buy-in or additional investments for external sales coaches. Your sales coaches would work directly with the sellers of your pilot sales teams and coach them regularly on just two key coaching areas (e.g., leads and opportunities, and skills and behaviors).

Ensure sellers and sales managers both get the experience to be coached. (Click to tweet)

To make it even more impactful, your sales coaches also should coach the impacted sales managers during the pilot. This way, the sales managers also experience how it is to be coached. Only if you have the experience of being coached can you become an advocate for sales coaching. Thanks to Emily FitzPatrick, who is running sales enablement at Showpad, for the coaching chat at Transform19 this week in Chicago. You made a great point that goes directly in this blog. Thank you, Emily, you rock!

How do you coach sales managers in this scenario? In this context, it could “break the ice” to coach them on an issue they all have challenges with: funnel management and forecasting. Funnel coaching is one of the five key sales coaching areas. This way, sellers and sales managers experience what it’s like to be coached and see the tremendous benefits and tangible results professional sales coaching creates, including double-digit performance improvements!

As soon as the coaching pilot has been processed successfully, you should have sellers and sales managers as advocates for effective sales coaching. This foundation should allow you to get your business case to develop your sales managers into top sales coaches approved. And if that’s not the case, you might create another case: investing in sales coaches within the sales enablement team. Either way, a successful sales coaching pilot is the enabler for driving sales coaching in your organization. How you move forward depends on your context.

Effective sales enablement leaders are creative when it comes to finding different ways to make such an essential initiative as sales coaching happen. Never give up. Find another way and create your own conditions.


If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.


Questions for you:

  • Do you have sales coaches on your sales enablement team?
  • Do you use sales enablement resources to coach sellers?

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