Two crucial coaching conversations

For the past 20 years I’ve been fortunate to talk to hundreds of sales leaders about their team and their organization’s performance.  Almost universally when I ask, what is the #1 reason your sales leaders don’t coach more often the response is “they don’t have time to properly prepare.”  This exact response happened again just this morning in a call with a VP of Sales from a leading HCM Analytics provider.

And they’re right.  When I bring up the need for more frequent sales coaching to a front-line sales manager, the most common response I get from them is a question “what do you suggest I stop doing so I can start coaching more”?  It’s a legitimate question as I’ve yet to meet the sales manager who thanked me for tasking them to coach more so they could fill a chronic gap in their daily or weekly calendar!

I think the answer starts in reframing what is a  “coaching conversation” and making the process significantly more simple, fast, and precise for sales managers.  Why do sales managers have to work so hard to prepare for a coaching conversation?  It’s probably because they are overwhelmed with data from the CRM, but very little actionable insight that is obvious.

If we can make it simple, fast, and precise to give managers actionable insights and show them how to turn this into a productive coaching conversations, I think we’ll go a very long way in ramping up the frequency (and impact) of coaching.   Here are two critical sales coaching conversations that should require minimal, if any, preparation time for your sales managers:


1. The Pipeline and Forecast Review Conversation. CRM systems produce an infinite amount of ways to slice and dice a pipeline or funnel with exceptionally impressive graphics.  But if the actionable insights are missing by not answering the questions below, don’t be surprised if your sales managers never have the time to do more coaching: 

  • What is the gap between today’s pipeline/forecast and what’s required for this specific salesperson to be successful?
  • What is the root cause of this gap?
  • What can I do about it now?
2. The Sales Opportunity Review. Determining the quality of sales execution against a critical sales opportunity, and the likelihood of winning the business, is often a time consuming and frustrating (for the manager and the seller) experience.  The actionable insights are missing most often because there’s no agreed on definition of “what good looks like” to assess the strength of the seller’s sales position.  Without this, it’s nearly impossible to simply and precisely answer these questions
  • How completely have we qualified, or disqualified, this opportunity?
  • What can we do to become the prospect’s favored alternative?
  • How can I objectively grade the win-probability of this opportunity?
  • How confident is my salesperson in the projected close date?

Next Steps

If you’d like to schedule a brief demo to see how Axiom is making it simple, fast, and precise for sales managers to answer these questions during the two crucial sales coaching conversations, let us know by contacting us here.

Andy Smith, SVP Sales & Marketing

For 24 years, Andy Smith has been helping some of the world’s leading sales organizations, including Honeywell, MasterCard, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, and others increase their effectiveness through improved sales process execution, better sales coaching, consultative sales skill development, and higher CRM adoption. Andy holds a degree from Baylor University and prior to joining AXIOM he served in senior sales leadership roles for Sales Performance International, AchieveGlobal, and Acclivus Corporation. He started his career in sales with Xerox before joining ExxonMobil where he discovered his passion for the sales performance improvement profession. Andy lives in Denton, Texas. Ask Andy about his very average golf game, radio broadcasting of high school sports, or his three adorable grand babies.

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Topics: Better Coaching

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