Sales Coaching, Mentoring and Training: What’s the Difference

When it’s time to create a sales team that works, it’s important to know the right approach. Sales coaching, sales training, and sales mentoring all have their place, and they are not interchangeable. Each is designed to achieve a specific purpose and should be used accordingly.

 Knowing the difference between training, coaching, and mentoring helps make sure they are used in the right order with the right goals in mind. Used together, these three tools can equip employees to grow in their careers and feel satisfied with their work.

three men sitting while using laptops and watching man beside whiteboardWhat is Sales Training?

Training is a prepared curriculum or program that is used to share knowledge. Training often takes place in classroom settings or using modules that are designed to communicate specific learning objectives. The trainer is the one with the information to pass on to the trainees, and sales training often takes place in groups.

Sales training is not designed to focus on the individual degree of experience trainees bring to the class. It also isn’t focused on each person’s unique goals. Sales training starts with everyone at the same level, and the goal is teaching trainees set information for them to use in achieving goals.

Sales training can be used throughout an employee’s time with a company because it’s good for situations where new knowledge needs to be given to many people. Training may take place when an employee joins the sales team, and it may also pop up again when new products arrive or an employee moves to a new position.

Sales training is essential, and trainers should be experts in the area they are teaching. Most training classes try to simulate an environment where employees can practice what they’ve learned in class before using the skills on the job. Training may also end with an assessment to make sure employees have retained the knowledge needed to use their new skills.

Training is generally the beginning of an employee’s experience with a sales team. It’s general enough to cover a variety of topics, but it also passes on information that is the foundation for future career growth.

Finding the right sales training is important if you want employees to start off strong. Training can be the difference between employees feeling confident in sales or being overwhelmed by too much information.

When Training Works:

  • Presenting new material
  • Introducing a new product or technique
  • Hiring new employees
  • Sharing information with a group

What is Sales Coaching?two person siting beside laptops

Once training is complete, it’s time for employees to use the skills they’ve learned. It’s also time to start sales coaching

Unlike training, coaching is an experience that pairs someone in the field with a newly trained employee. This one-on-one approach helps tailor the experience so the employee using the new knowledge will have personal support when encountering any issues.

A sales coach can help the person they are working with develop a specific plan with their personal goals in mind. Coaches provide support by listening and offering accountability as an employee tries to reach their goals. An effective coach helps an employee master the skills needed to reach the full potential in their current position.

Coaches are supporters who help employees solve problems and continue learning to enhance their careers. They are there to answer questions in real-time as an employee uses the knowledge from training to actually excel at sales. Coaches are invaluable because they help learning to get applied in a way that matters.

When Sales Coaching Works:

  • After training
  • For individual support
  • To attain skills needed for application or enhancement
  • When employees are aiming for mastery in a position

What is Sales Mentoring?

Sales mentoring is an important part of helping employees succeed as they grow within their careers. Mentors are veterans in the sales world who can offer support and guidance to those hoping to get better at their jobs. Mentors work one-on-one with employees to help them set and reach both short and long-term goals.

While a mentor’s relationship with the person they help is a business relationship, it may also be more personal. Mentors can provide insight and offer tips for growth, but they can also be great listeners who offer an objective view of a situation.man standing in front of people sitting beside table with laptop computers

It’s important for sales mentors to be further along in their careers than those they mentor so they can provide the help needed. The experiences a mentor has with applying knowledge and growing their skills is exactly what the person they are paired with will need.

Those being mentored also need to be open and prepared for the experience. They should know enough about what they want to talk through specifics with their mentor and acknowledge any obstacles they are encountering. Those ready to be mentored are fine-tuning already acquired skills. They may be ready to specialize or lead and need the extra support.

Mentors will likely talk about more than just working with employees. By building a more personal relationship, mentors and the employees they help can truly know each other on a deeper level. This allows for honesty and support as the relationship continues. Mentors may also recommend meeting with employees for activities outside of work so they can get to know each other in a more relaxed environment.

Everything a mentor does is for the purpose of boosting an employee and helping them become the best sales associate and people they can be.

When Salse Mentoring Works:

  • Employee career growth desired
  • Employee seeking specific skills
  • Veteran sales members prepared to mentor

Combining training, coaching, and mentoring is the best way to keep employees engaged and successful. Knowing what each program is trying to accomplish helps employees get the most out of every experience. That’s why finding the right programs is the best way to build your sales team.