Coaching sessions feel like pulling teeth. But why?

A colleague and I have a standing conference call every week. The days and times may change depending on our schedules, but we’re usually pretty efficient about getting it on the calendar. This past week, however, we had a day picked out but found ourselves having to work around his dentist appointment. It went something like this:

“My dentist appointment is at 8:30 a.m. It usually takes about an hour,” he said.

“This one should only take us five minutes. … Call me when you’re done. Have fun at the dentist!” I added.

“Wish [the dentist] took five minutes, too,” he shot back with a laugh.

I immediately felt for my colleague. Going to the dentist isn’t fun for many people, even those of us who have a mouth full of pearly whites – because, at the end of the day, we still have to lie back in that cold chair with the wafer-thin drool bib on our chest and have someone poke and prod in our mouth. Will they find a cavity? That metal pick hurts!

The point of this blog post is that when I got off the phone with him, it dawned on me that most people don’t like going to the dentist just as much as many of us in the sales world don’t like sitting down for a coaching session.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the seller or the sales leader; coaching sessions feel like pulling teeth for everyone involved. Why is this? Well, it all boils down to a few reasons, and it depends on which role you are playing.

For the sellers:

  • They either don’t feel they need it, or they feel micromanaged
  • They feel unprepared (lack of communication) or nervous
  • The sales leader keeps changing the criteria or focus (almost daily)
  • The sales leader uses a one-size-fits-all approach

For the sales leaders:

Coaching sessions shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth, so if sellers feel that way and sales leaders feel that way, how do we ensure that it’s not like this anymore?

  1. Communicate and set clear expectations – As sales leaders, let your team member know which opportunities are going to be reviewed in the session, so they are prepared and feel at ease. As salespeople, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This ensures there is a true back-and-forth dialogue going on that is productive for everyone involved.
  1. Allow time for developmental and accounting conversations – As we’ve discussed in the past, coaching sessions are always going to involve talking about raw data and performance numbers. But it shouldn’t be all about that. Leave time to have a genuine conversation that allows both parties to grow and take something positive away.
  1. Make sure each coaching session is unique and tailored to the seller you are meeting with – This is a no-brainer. Sales is sales, but all sellers are different and require different approaches.

Please realize that not all coaching sessions will be sunshine and rainbows. There will be painful conversations every now and again, but if you are doing these three things, the coaching session becomes far less painful because everyone is a willing participant, expectations have been set, and you are both moving forward toward a goal.

The good news is Axiom has all the tools, resources, and applications you could ask for to help you on your journey to being a successful sales coach. For more information on the content above, visit our solutions page or schedule a demo.

Brian Kludas, VP of Client Success

For the past 15 years, Brian Kludas has been directly involved in developing, executing, and managing sales excellence initiatives in a variety of industries. Brian's success has come through dedicated service to clients and a focus on improving seller and leader effectiveness through coaching and development. Having served in sales, sales leadership, operations, coaching, and training, Brian brings a unique blend of technical knowledge, program design, project management, and operational efficiency to the Axiom team. Brian is currently the Senior Director of Client Success. Brian is proud of the impact he makes on his clients' success. He's also proud of his accomplishments as a dedicated father, husband, and friend. Whether coaching youth sports, mountain biking, camping in the Arizona desert, being MC at community events, or even doing occasional stand up comedy routines, Brian loves a challenge.

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Topics: Better Coaching

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