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Sales Training vs Sales Coaching

December 18, 2023

What’s the difference? “I’m getting trained when I’m getting coached and visa-versa.” We call foul! For teams that are laser-focused on growth and excellence, the role of effective guidance becomes paramount. Two terms that often get thrown into the ring when discussing this guidance are Sales Coaching and Sales Training. While they share the common goal of improving sales performance, they are distinctive in their approach, catering to different aspects of the sales process.

Sales Training: The Foundation

Sales training serves as the bedrock upon which a successful sales team is built. It involves imparting knowledge, skills, and processes to individuals, enabling them to execute their roles more efficiently. Think of it as the playbook that outlines the rules, strategies, and tactics of the sales game. Sales training is typically broad in scope and focuses on equipping team members with the tools they need to navigate the various stages of the sales cycle.

Key Elements of Sales Training:

Product Knowledge:

Understanding the product or service being sold is fundamental. Sales training ensures that every team member possesses a comprehensive knowledge of what they are offering to clients. Enablement teams can support sales on this, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the organization to decide how many resources to dedicate to training their people on the product. GTM teams don’t need the answer to every individual question, but they do need to have a level of understanding to be able to build trust and understanding. 

Sales Processes:

From prospecting to closing, sales training outlines the step-by-step processes that guide team members through the entire sales journey. This provides a structured approach that can be replicated for consistent results. This is the age-old struggle to encourage teams to track their activities, fill in notes for deals in the CRM, and encourage teams to commit to a system that leadership really believes in. 

Technology and Tools:

In the rapidly evolving landscape of sales technology, staying updated is crucial. Training sessions introduce new tools and technologies, ensuring that the team can leverage them effectively. There’s no longer a world where teams can operate on a tech-free island of simply working hard. That also doesn't mean relying on tech to get the job done. Training is a part of optimizing the tech stack and getting the most productivity possible from your team. 

Time Management:

Efficiency is the key to success in sales. Training helps individuals manage their time effectively, allowing them to prioritize tasks and maximize productivity. 

Sales Coaching: The Personal Touch

While training lays the foundation, sales coaching takes a more personalized and hands-on approach. It's the one-on-one interaction that delves into individual strengths and weaknesses, aiming to fine-tune and enhance performance. Coaching is a continuous process, providing ongoing support and feedback to help team members grow and excel.

Key Elements of Sales Coaching:

Individualized Feedback:

Individualized feedback is essential for optimizing sales team performance. It tailors guidance to the unique strengths and challenges of each team member, recognizing diverse skill sets. This approach provides targeted insights for improvement, fostering a culture of continuous enhancement. By pinpointing specific areas to work on and acknowledging achievements, individualized feedback equips team members to enhance their performance in a straightforward and practical manner. In the sales landscape, where success relies on nuanced interactions, individualized feedback acts as a reliable guide for professionals to refine their skills systematically.

Skill Development:

Coaching focuses on refining and honing the skills of individual team members. This could include improving communication, negotiation, or relationship-building skills, among others. Whether it's refining persuasion techniques or improving active listening, skill development ensures that team members are well-prepared for the changing demands of sales. Ultimately, a sales team's success hinges on mastering these skills, making continuous development crucial for long-term achievement in the competitive sales arena.

Motivation and Confidence Building:

Sales coaching recognizes the importance of keeping team members motivated and confident in their abilities. By providing positive reinforcement, addressing concerns, and fostering a supportive environment, coaches play a key role in nurturing a positive mindset within the team. Motivated and confident sales professionals are more likely to tackle challenges head-on, engage effectively with clients, and persist in the face of setbacks. This combination of motivation and confidence is the driving force that propels a sales team towards achieving their goals and sustaining success over time.

Goal Setting:

Clear goals are essential for a successful sales team. Sales coaching emphasizes specific, achievable goals for individuals and the team. These goals provide direction and purpose, keeping everyone focused and motivated. Regularly revisiting and adjusting goals ensures continuous progress towards success.

The Synergy: Integrating Training and Coaching

While training and coaching each play distinct roles, their synergy is where the magic happens. A well-rounded sales strategy involves the integration of both, creating a comprehensive approach that addresses the diverse needs of a sales team.

Performance Management:

By establishing clear performance metrics, goals, and expectations, organizations empower their sales teams. Performance management provides a structured framework for ongoing feedback, enabling timely identification of strengths to celebrate and areas for improvement to address. This continuous loop of assessment and enhancement not only enhances individual performance but also contributes to the overall synergy of the team. It fosters a culture of accountability, motivation, and growth. 

Nurturing Individual Growth:

Coaching takes the foundation laid by training and nurtures individual growth, ensuring that team members not only understand the processes but excel in their execution. This is where if the right questions are asked, individual contributors can feel like they are a part of something bigger than just their performance. They want to grow in more ways than one. A great coach will take a skilled athlete and make them a great person too. 

Continuous Improvement:

Training is ongoing, keeping the team abreast of industry trends and technological advancements. Coaching, too, is continuous, adapting to the evolving needs and challenges faced by the sales team.

Maximizing Potential:

Together, training and coaching unlock the full potential of a sales team. Training provides the tools, and coaching sharpens their application, creating a winning combination.

Don’t take our word for it. Here’s the Sales Doctor, Chet Lovegren, who gave us a lot of this information in his podcast episode on the "Great Day in Sales" podcast.


The distinction between Sales Coaching and Sales Training is crucial for businesses aiming to thrive in a competitive landscape. While training lays the foundation, coaching fine-tunes and maximizes individual and team potential. The most successful sales strategies recognize the complementary nature of these two approaches, leveraging both to create a powerhouse of knowledge, skills, and performance. In the end, it's not about choosing between coaching and training but understanding how their collaboration can propel a sales team toward unparalleled success.

Full documentation in Finsweet's Attributes docs.
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