Ultimate Guide to Sales Coaching: Strategies, Tips, & Tools to Win

Your sales team is in the bottom of the ninth, and you need a home run to win the game. Your best player steps up to bat. As their coach, how confident are you that they’ll knock that ball out of the park?

It’s the sales manager’s job to coach each rep on their team, helping them build skills and improve their performance. That’s why 95 percent of sales organizations devote some time and resources toward individual rep coaching.

However, 46 percent of small organizations describe their coaching approach as “ad-hoc.” They aren’t formalizing the practice or setting coaching standards. And 26 percent of sales professionals admit they don’t even know how to measure coaching success.

For reps to perform at their best, sales managers need to become better coaches. That’s true whether you’re managing a remote sales team or not.

Key takeaways:

  • Active coaching boosts individual close rates, rep retention, and overall team performance.
  • Implement AI-powered tools to elevate your coaching efforts, not replace them.
  • Small businesses should onboard slowly, coaching on the sales skills and tactics of the founder or original salesperson.
  • Design an actionable coaching “game plan” with your reps to direct and track progress.
  • Prioritize the time spent on consistent coaching, and make yourself available outside the sessions.
  • Choose the right sales coaching tools, like Close or Seismic Learning, to streamline your coaching approach and amplify results.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have the know-how to coach your team to hit consistent home runs—every time they step up to the plate.

What is Sales Coaching? And Why Does It Matter?

Sales coaching is mentoring and guiding your individual sales reps to perform at their best. Active coaching builds hard and soft skills, teaches reps how to self-identify their weak points, and gives them the foundation for consistent success as they pound the pavement (figuratively or literally) every day..

It demands scheduled meetings between you, as the manager, and each of your reps—separately. Those can involve one-on-one conversations, pipeline and deal reviews, call analyses, and individual skill-building through practice and collaboration.

But it’s not just about building skills for the here and now—it’s about guiding each rep towards the next step in their career.

In contrast, sales training is about building the skills of your team as a whole. “Training” might practice new scripts or talk tracks, test and refine new tactics, or redefine the sales process.

Sales Coaching vs Sales Training

So, sales training hones team-wide sales strategies, while sales coaching shows each rep how to maximize those strategies in their day-to-day process.

Top Objectives for Sales Coaching

Coaching is about more than just telling your reps what to do. 

Here are some primary goals of a solid sales coaching strategy:

  • Improve sales skills across the team: Individual coaching helps build foundational skills across your team, so they can tackle your unique sales process and pipeline.
  • Motivate sales reps to high performance: You must (1) find the right motivators for each rep, and (2) build relevant reward systems for improved performance.
  • Handle small issues before they become big issues: Coaching on the deals in each rep’s current pipeline helps you track performance per stage, and spot weak points before they impact your bottom line.
  • Push reps to grow in their sales careers: Coaching reps and fostering growth will help them reach their career goals—and that’s huge for top talent retention.
  • Reinforce training: Eighty percent of sales training is forgotten in three months, so regular coaching is necessary to reinforce those lessons.

Objectives, check. Benefits?

Top Benefits of Effective Sales Coaching

Effective sales coaching makes the difference between a high-performing sales team and a team that can’t consistently reach quota. 

Sales managers who strategically coach their reps help them build foundational skills that lead to better productivity, elevated performance, and increased win rates. It’s also central to retaining top performers.

Here are some of the main coaching benefits, plus the stats to back it up:

  • Higher close rates: Structured sales coaching can increase win rates by 32 percent.
  • Greater rep retention: Individualized attention makes your reps feel appreciated and challenged in their work, which explains why 60 percent of salespeople are likely to quit if their manager sucks at coaching.
  • Superior team-wide performance: Effective sales coaching increases overall sales performance by up to eight percent
  • Faster growth across the company: Companies that coach consistently see an average of 16 percent greater annual revenue growth.

Convinced yet?

If you’re ready to empower your reps, it’s time to craft a plan that will lead to more effective sales coaching—and more home runs.

Pro Tip: The more you put into your sales coaching efforts, the more you’ll get out of it. With enough time and practice, anyone can become a truly legendary sales coach.

Learn how Nick Persico, Director of Sales at Close, has coached SaaS sales teams successfully over the past decade:

The Impact of Data and AI in Sales Coaching

AI has taken the sales world by storm. The right AI tools will streamline your sales process, boost productivity, and elevate your coaching—exponentially. 

But don’t let it run the game.

AI helps sales managers to distill clear, actionable data on individual rep performance. To start, generative AI can conduct a performance analysis on your reps’ outreach, recording their calls and emails, and offering insights on performance highs and lows.

Matt Doyon, CEO of Triple Session, says this:

“AI has changed the game with how we can now collect and consolidate data for coaching. Best example? Using customized AI scorecards to have calls automatically assessed, scored, and offering guidance for salespeople.”

AI gets you to call and deal insights quickly—and at scale.

It can also enhance your sales coaching in the day-to-day, automating tasks central to your strategy and providing guidance on what’s next.

And that’s why we baked AI right into Close CRM

The Call Assistant feature automatically transcribes and summarizes any recorded calls in Close. The transcriptions are fully searchable, so you can target keywords. The summaries provide a high-level understanding.

Then you, as the sales manager, can review those calls—and coach accordingly.

Sales Coaching - Close AI Rewrite Assistant

Close also has the AI Rewrite Assistant (like an assistant coach) to make outreach emails resonate. The Close GPT integration helps you summarize customer relationships and access other useful insights for 1:1 coaching sessions.

Since time is a critical component of successful sales coaching, other AI tools (above and beyond Close) can save you minutes that could be better dedicated to your team. But AI has its limits. 

It hasn’t replaced the sales rep, and won’t. And it hasn’t replaced your role, either. So, don’t overlook the coaching basics. 

Talk to your reps. Listen to calls. Shadow the close.

Sales coaching is a hands-on process. AI can lend a hand, but you must stay actively engaged.

Sales Coaching System & Process: From Onboarding to Seasoned Sales Rep

To build an effective sales coaching system, you’ll need a firm foundation. So, how do you construct a plan that works for you and your reps?

If you’re a small business owner or new sales manager—entering the multi-rep-coaching world for the first time—here are six basic steps to get started. 

Pro Tip: Looking for a quick checklist to help you build a better coaching program? Download our Sales Coaching Plan Template for a structured agenda you can adapt and use in your 1:1s.

Step 1. Onboard in Increments and Coach on What Works

At the beginning, every small business’s sales process revolves around the founder. Their influence and expertise is what sells the product. Which means you can’t just hire a salesperson and expect to pass the whole buck.

Nick Persico, Director of Business Operations at Close, talked to us about how to do this successfully: Treat it like a family business, and train your “kid” to take over.

What does he mean by that? Let the role evolve over time, expanding scope as they have success. Pawn off the parts of your sales process that anyone can do—and have them shadow you.

Get them to source leads. Coach them through what works with that. Get them booking meetings—but meetings for you. Then get them on the qualifying call—but you are taking the closing call.

The sales process will change as you grow, and you can hand over more and more steps as you go. This is throughout onboarding—and then?

On an ongoing basis, you’ll move into tactical coaching. That’s where you’ll introduce them to new tactics and necessary skills, and conduct review sessions, keeping as much as possible in the situational context—so they can continue to mirror you. 

Step 2. Create Foundational Sales Enablement Content

Sales enablement content—like sales scripts, talk tracks, comparison charts, email templates, and more—provides a foundation for your reps to work from. It also gives you a foundation to coach from. 

And since you’ve already identified what works (as the founder or formerly-solo salesperson), you are the person to create it.

Reps don’t sell in a vacuum. Sales enablement content helps drive the sale forward and is central to their process. That makes quality content a cornerstone for strong sales performance—and effective coaching.

Psst… To create that content, start with our free Sales Enablement Toolkit

Be sure to:

  • Create content for your customer persona & journey
  • Identify and highlight core messaging
  • Get feedback from your team (and customers) & adapt
  • Include data-backed evidence & customer stories

As mentioned, you can base a lot of this foundational content on historical sales data and personal experience (as the founder or formerly-solo salesperson). Look back to find key best practices, and build upon those as the new standard.

Step 3. Divide Your Team into Groups & Hyper-Focus on the Mid-Level Reps

Each of your reps is an individual—and should be coached as such. But as your team grows, you’ll need to get strategic about your focus. Why? Your time is finite. And?

Spoiler: Coaching goes furthest on your mid-level reps.

So, based on sales activities, current and past performance, and your own experience, group your reps into:

  • Low performers
  • Mid performers
  • Top performers

Pro Tip: A sales leaderboard provides a quick snapshot of who’s who—and what needs work. That’s why we built one into Close.



Low performers lack foundational sales skills, regularly miss quota, and struggle on their own. 

Coaching low performers requires patience, and involves building their self-awareness to identify issues and tackle problem-solving. You’ll need to address trouble areas while considering underlying issues contributing to poor performance.

Middle performers should receive most of your time and energy. This 60 percent of your team isn’t batting foul balls—but they’re not hitting home runs, either. 

Even the smallest improvements among the “B-squad” can seriously impact your bottom line. These guys (and gals) are on the cusp of greatness. Give them your focus—and figure out the skills and strategies you need to leverage—and they’ll soon level up.

Top performers are your all-stars. They’re already hitting home runs. Coaching these folks maintains that motivation and challenges them to tackle new sales techniques.

Give them a lot more leeway—and accountability—throughout coaching. Try to focus on the latest sales techniques and untapped revenue routes.

Step 4. Design Your Coaching Game Plan 

A goal without a plan is just a wish, right? You need both a goal—and a plan—to hit the effective coaching sweet spot.

This coaching “game plan” isn’t something you create alone, either. Work collaboratively with each rep to build a plan you’re both happy with—and set high-level goals you can work on together.

It should include:

  • High-level goals: Define the end goal, and by when. Boost closing rates by X? Gain cold calling confidence? Tackle objections more tactfully? These can be broken into monthly or quarterly short- and long-term goals.
  • Steps to success: The plan—the “how we’ll get there” part—involves actionable steps your reps will take to reach their goals. Break it down by weekly or bi-weekly (or whatever works) objectives. 
  • Check-in schedule: Determine how often you’ll meet for coaching and to review progress. Frequency—and consistency—are key!

It’s tempting to make a huge list of “things to work on” and work on them all at once. Don’t do that. Instead, create reasonable—and achievable—goals and “steps to success.” 

In other words? Pace yourselves. 

Start with the foundational skills that are central to (most) successful sales. Bite off one at a time—and measure progress regularly. Once you, as the manager, see (and the data backs up) concrete progress, you can move on to the next goal or more advanced sales tactic.

Pro Tip: You can blueprint a generalized meeting agenda, too, to make the most of your sessions.

And one last thing: Praise and success are their own rewards, but other sales incentives can really motivate progress, too. Talk with your reps about what gets them excited, and consider adding extra PTO or a cash bonus for consistent, hard-earned growth.

Pro Tip: Still not sure where to start? Grab our Sales Coaching Plan Template.

Step 5. Execute Your Coaching Game Plan

Execute the coaching. Be consistent. 

Stick to your set check-ins and hold your reps accountable for their goals.

That’s it. That’s the tweet. (Can we still say “tweet”?)

Step 6. Review and Iterate Your Coaching Impact (+ Plan)

As time goes on, you’ll need to consistently review each rep’s progress toward their goals—and adapt your plan accordingly.

There are several ways to do this. To start, build feedback loops into your coaching process. This could mean reserving five minutes at the end of each one-on-one for open-ended questions on how your rep feels about the sessions. How has it impacted their everyday sales life? Do they feel confident in the progress they are making? Anything they want to add?

Alternatively, employ individual surveys for feedback—and suggestions for improvement.

And then, of course, you have Close. The Activity Comparison report visualizes data on rep performance, connecting the dots between your coaching efforts and end results. Conversations allow you to analyze meetings and search for keywords and phrases to review (for the data, of course).

Sales Coaching - Conversations at Close CRM

‎And you’ll need to watch for other tell-tale signs of sales success, like:

  • Deal size and profitability
  • Size and frequency of upsells
  • Meeting or exceeding the quota

When you find aspects of your coaching strategy that aren’t going to plan, take that feedback and adjust. Making those improvements will set the right example for your team and elevate your coaching to new heights.

Top 6 Sales Coaching Tips to Increase Your Team’s Batting Average

Now that you have the basic system in place, it’s time to level up your game and improve your skills as a coach.

Here are six tips to do that—according to the experts.

1. Prioritize the Time You Spend Coaching 

Effective sales coaching is consistent sales coaching. And one of the biggest holdups to that consistency? Not enough time. 

You’re working with sales ops, tracking metrics, presenting reports, closing deals, onboarding reps, and the list goes on. Do you have time to coach?

Nick Persico, Director of Business Operations at Close, says this:

“If a sales manager came to me and said ‘I don’t have enough time,’ I would then ask, ‘What’s expected of you from the person you report to?’—and list those things out.” 

This will reveal (1) if your expectations are aligned. (Have you been taking on unnecessary reports or additional responsibilities?)

Or, maybe (2) you are aligned—and expectations are clear—but those expectations don’t include coaching. That’s a problem. (And a common one, as limited support from senior leadership, is the number one obstacle to a healthy coaching culture.)

To fix it, you need to manage up and lay down the law. Show them why coaching matters.

Scott Anschuetz, CEO of Visualize, Inc., puts it this way:

“The deal you are focused on will only pay you ONCE. What if, as a leader, you focused instead on the skills the team needs to get the deal done?” 

Bottom line: Prioritize the time you spend coaching. It’ll pay off. 

2. Use a Peer-Driven, Hands-On Approach

The best sales coaches are also successful salespeople. And utilizing that fact is a winning play.

Nick says:

“I’ll work with somebody on a deal and be heavily involved—as a peer—working on the deal with them.

“And then, once the deal concludes—or at different milestones—we’ll look back and review where we are today versus where we started. ‘What should we have done differently? What strategies or tactics should we have used?’ And we work together on that.”

It’s about experiencing the deal with your rep. Observing and coaching in the environment where sellers actually sell will teach reps to diagnose and solve issues on their own.

Pro Tip: Listen, whisper, and barge in Close to apply this hands-on coaching approach during your rep’s next sales call.

Nick says:

“I think this approach creates the most progress over time, because you’re doing two things at once. You’re (1) coaching, but you’re also (2) doing the job. You can keep moving and progressing—driving results for yourself and the company at the same time.”

3. Approach 1:1s with a Plan + Make Yourself Available

One-on-ones shouldn’t be spontaneous affairs. You need to demonstrate that you value your coaching role—and the individual time with each rep.

Amy Volas, Founder & CEO at Avenue Talent Partners, says this:

“Don’t push or cancel 1:1’s. Prepare an agenda, share it beforehand to get their thoughts and important items to cover, and then stick to it in the meeting. Then, listen and take notes. 

“Try to understand their barriers. And finally, create a plan and communicate how you’ll help from what you’re hearing—then do it.”

So, be consistent with the 1:1’s. Keep the regular time. Approach the meeting prepared. Periodically look back on how they’ve progressed in the last month, quarter, or year—and share that in the meeting. 

Your reps need to know that you care about their growth, and you show that by showing up.

And also? Make yourself available outside of those meetings, too. 

If your team is remote, make sure your “Slack door” is always open. 

4. Base Your Coaching Goals on Real-Time Data

Real-time data on sales activities, pipeline opportunities, and deal status should be the foundation for each coaching session.

Rather than starting with, “What’s up with this deal?” you can dive straight into the specific steps and skills your rep will need to move the deal forward.

“Data brings objectivity to the practice of coaching a team,” says Jeremey Huckaby, Territory Manager for Corrective Asphalt Materials, LLC. “The film does not lie.”

“Data is important because you need something you can measure so you can effectively manage performance. Data also helps you determine where your time investment will produce the best return.”

How do you get this data? The right tools and CRM system. Close tracks important metrics—including individual rep activities and KPIs—for insights on performance and deal progress. 

Sales Coaching- Close-Activity-Comparison-Report

‎5. Identify When to Coach vs. When to Manage 

Management dictates instructions. Coaching empowers reps to discover the answers—and grow.

There is a time to manage and a time to coach. These may overlap—but they’re still distinct.

George Brontén, Founder and Co-CEO of Membrain.com, says this:

“Salespeople often feel like they’re being coached much less than their managers think they are coaching.

“It can look like this,” he says. “A salesperson is struggling with bringing an opportunity to the next stage of the sales process. They go to their coach. The coach, being an experienced salesperson themselves, sees what the problem is and immediately tells the salesperson what they need to do.”

In this scenario? The salesperson is being managed—not coached.

“Coaching, in this instance, would involve asking the individual open-ended questions that help them discover what they need to do and the internal motivation to do it.

“If additional skills are required, it helps the individual discover what those skills are and identify opportunities to develop them.”

Manage when you need an individual to align with the company’s goals and produce the results they’re being paid to produce.

Coach when your rep needs to develop specific sales skills or define big-picture motivation. Coaching is more person-driven—even with an agenda. 

6. Foster a Coaching-Friendly Sales Environment

Some reps just aren’t coachable. They disagree with your process—and disregard your advice.

Sometimes, it’s not your fault. But you can make sure it’s not your fault by establishing a healthy coaching environment.

According to Dave Kurlan, Sales Performance Expert, there are three key conditions:

  • The sales manager must build a strong relationship with each rep, one that can withstand constructive criticism. 
  • Salespeople must trust their manager’s intentions.
  • And salespeople must respect their manager’s coaching.

How to foster that? A combination of things. Of course, you must keep those doors of communication open—and stick to your consistent coaching schedule.

You should also continue to develop your interpersonal and listening skills, and your own competence, both in coaching and sales.

Without these ingredients, your coaching will fall flat—and it will be your fault.

Choose a Sales Coaching Software that Works for Your Team

Consistent sales coaching changes the game—and the right software can stack the odds.

According to Gartner, only 39 percent of sales reps believe their managers use technology effectively for coaching. So, what kind of sales coaching tools do you really need to be successful? 

Before you call out the team, here are four software options—plus why you should consider each one—to get you to the big leagues.

Pro Tip: Looking for a deeper dive into sales coaching software? Check out the top sales coaching platforms for high-performing teams.

1. Close
Sales Coaching Software - Close

Close is the all-in-one CRM that gets you integrated call, email, SMS—and much more—plus, powerful features for your sales coaching career.

  • Live Call Coaching allows you to listen, whisper, or barge, depending on a rep’s needs. Use it to actively participate in a deal—and coach your in-action rep.
  • Opportunity Funnel Reports keep track of an opportunity’s performance over time. You can filter results by sales rep or group, and use that information in your next 1:1.
  • Conversations let you view past—and ongoing—calls and meetings with any specific lead. They provide full context on lead status and what your reps need to focus on next.
  • There are also call recordings, Zoom recordings, and robust lead management features.
  • And of course, we have already discussed the AI-generated call transcriptions and summaries.

Consider Close if: You need an all-in-one tool for your sales team, a space where you can perform live call coaching or find the right data for scheduled coaching sessions—without having to switch tabs. Start your 14-day free trial now!

2. Gong
Sales Coaching Software - Gong

Gong for coaching” provides sales managers with a data-driven, guided workflow to help identify which reps need support—and how to make it happen.

The software assesses rep performance—including soft skills, style cues, and adherence to sales processes—to provide a reality-based view on individual rep performance. It then offers recommendations on what to work on next.

Gong built coaching accountability into the platform to make sure each manager pulls their weight. And it’s integrated with Close for a seamless CRM-to-Gong-and-back experience.

Consider Gong if: You’re a medium-sized business intent on a robust, AI-boosted coaching solution.

3. Ambition
Sales Coaching Software - Ambition

Ambition is a sales coaching and gamification platform. It offers leaderboards, sales challenges, competitions, and other fun ways to motivate your team. 

Their coaching features include grouping members (for large sales teams), creating schedules and action plans for 1:1 coaching, activity insights, and pre-meeting assessments for reps.

Consider Ambition if: You manage a team of 15+ reps and need a place to schedule, organize, plan, and implement your coaching—alongside gamification features and incentives.

4. Seismic Learning
Sales Coaching Software - Sesmic Learning

Seismic Learning is an “all-so-simple” coaching solution. The platform gives reps the resources to ramp up quickly and stay up-to-date on new messaging and sales processes.

It supports holistic, individual coaching opportunities through automated coaching, skills assessments, and data-driven coaching plans—just for your reps.

Plus, create interactive sales courses with practice scenarios and role-play training!

Consider Seismic Learning if: You want a flexible solution that covers coaching from onboarding through career growth, that’s comprehensive yet user-friendly.

Sales coaching isn’t that scary, right? With the right tools and strategy—and consistency and patience—you can coach your team to triumph.

And see some serious ROI.

So, grab your Sales Coaching Template—and check out Close in action today.

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