Sales Leadership: Are You a Good Coach?

sales leadership

Just the other day I was riding through the woods with a buddy of mine. As far as cycling is concerned, there are two main influences in my life. First, my father who taught me how to ride a bike and, second, my friend who taught me how to race.

Mountain biking used to be a lot more competitive for both my friend and me when we were racing, however, these days it's just a way to try to stay in shape. While the days of racing may be behind us, our passion for riding remains.

As we turned the corner, we came across a husband and wife out for a similar ride. I had seen the man before on the trails, but we had never spoken more than just to say hello to one another.

On this day, he was teaching his wife how to ride trails. We rode with them for a while and listened to him as he attempted to help her improve her riding. She was slow and apprehensive. His coaching included directions such as "relax", "pedal faster", "go through the turn smoother". Granted, all of those things would have made her faster and they were all things that she did need to improve.

The Hows & the Whys of Coaching

What was missing from his coaching was the fact that he wasn't determining WHY she was struggling nor was he helping her learn HOW to do any of those things. He was simply pointing out that she wasn't doing them. That is when my friend spoke up and offered to help.

Watching him coach her was a thing of beauty. He quickly identified the root cause of her problems and then demonstrated how she should position her arms, where her feet should be on the downhill rides, how and when to shift gears, etc. He was addressing the WHYS and HOWS of the issues and not just pointing out their existence.

In some cases, she didn't know what to do and in other cases, she knew what to do, but wasn't doing it correctly. Even in our short ride, you could see dramatic improvement in her riding from his coaching.

Sales Leadership & Coaching

When we're trying to develop our salespeople, what kind of coaches are we? Are we simply pointing out that our people aren't doing as well as they could, or are we finding out the root causes of their performance problems and addressing them both directly and appropriately?

All too often, sales leaders point out the gaps in their seller's performance and then tell the seller to correct those. Not only have they created friction by pointing out the obvious, they're losing coaching leverage by failing to do anything meaningful to help resolve the underlying problems.

If we're going to be effective sales coaches, we must first figure out the why and then give our sellers specific things to work on to drive the proper behavior that will lead to better results. It isn't easy, but when done properly and consistently, it can have a dramatic impact on the success of our sellers.

Last Thoughts

  • When coaching a sales rep, what are some of the indicators you look for to determine the root cause of their performance deficit?
  • How do you determine the corrective action for the rep to take once you've identified the root cause of the problem?

The Guide to Sales Coaching from Axiom

Mike Crocker

Mike is an innovative Sales Transformation professional with extensive experience and success in Sales, Sales Management, Coaching, and Sales Training in the context of Sales and Sales Behavior Transformation. Mike combines the aspects of Sales Effectiveness with his understanding of Learning and Development to build and implement programs that elevate sales organizations; transforming them from typical transactional customer engagements to an environment that is business-focused and customer-serving as well as positioning Sales Professionals as Trusted Advisors.

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Topics: Better Coaching, Better Selling

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