There is a clear difference between sales training and sales coaching but the two are often confused. The table below outlines how the two approaches to staff development differ:
For me, the main difference between coaching and training is who is actually carrying out the development programme. The best sales coaching programmes are often carried out internally, by colleagues who have more experience in sales and your business. This will help your tutees improve their sales skills significantly as well as pick up your business principles more quickly. The knock-on effect of this is that by implementing a process where more experienced staff coach the less experienced, the tutor will be refreshing their skills as well by teaching someone else. Often you only really think about and understand a process when you are trying to teach someone else.
The second thing with coaching as opposed to training is that it is an ongoing process. Regular communication between the tutor and the tutee enables the sales coach to recognise the trainee’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows for the programme to be adapted to fit more around the person being trained, which always makes for a more effective process. I believe that this is the major benefit of coaching over training, as it allows for an understanding of what an employee really needs to learn to succeed in the industry.
Training is often seen as the more expensive approach to staff development as it usually relies on hiring or working with an external agency. Sales training can come in a variety of different forms from motivational speaking to basic selling protocol. This investment is often worthwhile however as the trainer you work with will have expertise and may even be an expert in their field. By following the advice from leaders of the sales industry your staff may pick up some valuable hints or tips which may help them day to day. Training offers more opportunity for higher calibre salespeople compared to coaching, as it is harder to coach a person who is already very experienced in their field. Sending one of your top salespeople to a training event may make an already effective member of staff even more effective. For this reason the decision between coaching and training usually depends on the member of staff you are trying to develop.