How to Coach Your Sales Team to Optimize Performance

Sales team in a meeting

No one said managing a sales team was easy. With so much money at stake and so many egos involved, managers may often feel tempted to play things by the book and simply hope things will work out — the only problem is that there is no “playbook,” so to speak, that works for every enterprise, team, or salesperson. Just because people used to do things a certain way doesn’t mean they should have in every case, or that those methods apply to the modern workplace. So, while there are many coaching skills for leaders to develop, honing in on antiquated methods will keep you and your business stuck in the past.

Here are some tips for coaching your sales team to optimize performance without resorting to outdated, counterintuitive tactics.

How to Coach a Sales Team

Direct, Don’t Dictate

If you have the final word on every single matter, your employees will soon feel stifled in their decision-making, and their ability to garner interest and close deals will suffer as a result. Remember that you hired every team member in your purview for a reason — they’re intelligent, capable people. Rather than constantly micromanaging their actions, act as a director, guiding their attention, honing their strengths, and checking their weaknesses. Your team members will learn much more with this brand of strong leadership communication than they will simply being told what to do all the time.

Measure Results, Not Face-Time

The workplace is changing fast, which means our conception of the traditional office no longer holds the weight it once did. With the increase in at-home work and virtual office spaces, less emphasis should be placed on one’s physical presence (i.e., hours spent “clocked in”), and more should be placed on actual performance. Different businesses will approach these changes in different ways, of course. When it comes to sales team management, consider whether it’s necessary to have your team together in the same physical space at all times — if your people can perform just as well from home, allow them the flexibility to get their job done wherever they’re most productive. The important thing is setting clear expectations and boundaries so your team is always aware of how and where they should conduct business and how to remain accountable regardless.

Incentivize with More than Money

Raises and bonuses have long been the high benchmark for encouraging continuous improvement and retaining team members. And while no one would deny that money is a strong motivator, it’s not the only means for boosting sales numbers or bolstering company culture, nor is it always the most efficient. In our previous blog, “It’s Not the Money: Why Compensation Models Have Limits in Motivating Workers,” we discussed the diminishing returns of finance-based incentives and explored the importance of inspiring meaning in one’s work. Optimal employee management and motivation require more than the mere promise of money — they also require positive feedback, appropriate placement (i.e., putting the right people in the right positions), continual education and development, healthy work-life balance, and more.

Putting the “Win” Back in Your Sales

If there was a single, foolproof way to manage a sales team (or any business, for that matter), there’d be no need for sales team management training or improvement, more broadly. As times change, everyone must be more willing to adapt in order to uncover the maximum potential of themselves, their peers, and their workers. The old ways simply won’t do — not without some adjustment, at least.


At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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