Why is sales coaching so darn hard?

I was visiting with a sales leader in California not too long ago when he said, “Brian, coaching should be easy, but I feel like I’m constantly tripping over all these processes and structures around it just to get to the results I want. I feel too restricted in doing what I really need to do.”

In my mind, I was thinking, “you’re not alone, buddy.” Sales leaders across the country ask the same thing – why is sales coaching so darn difficult? I hear it all the time in my travels, and I know the rest of the great folks at Axiom do too.

But in reality, coaching isn’t difficult at all. If you boil it down, it’s simply a conversation. So why do these smart leaders feel this way? Well, I think it boils down to a couple of reasons:

  1. They don’t know how to coach effectively – When you don’t know how to do something, it can seem overwhelming.
  2. They think it’s something they need to do on top of their daily activities – In other words, they think coaching is “in addition to” what they’re doing. And since they don’t have time to keep up with what they already set out to do, they feel restricted by being asked to do this “extra thing.”

Sales coaching doesn’t take more time. It takes purpose

If coaching is the best way to develop our people, it’s not a matter of having to do “more.” It’s about doing the same things we are doing, but with a slightly different purpose. Instead of just looking at the results and trying to guide people toward better results by giving them actions to take, coaching merely involves adding another layer on top of that conversation that’s ALREADY taking place.

You’re already meeting with your teams about their pipeline, prospects, and opportunities, but it’s mostly an accounting conversation. All I’m suggesting about coaching is that we should be diverting that conversation away from only talking about numbers and asking, “What are you challenged by?” followed by coming up with a plan together, and then working on that plan together to achieve the desired goal (or number).

If you think about coaching in those terms, it’s really not extra work – or more time. So to wrap this up, to be effective as a coach, sales leaders all across the country should focus on:

  • Having a model to coach to – If you know what good goalkeeping looks like on a soccer field, and your goalie does, too, then you should be able to coach to that model. It’s the same with sales. Just don’t overthink it.
  • Understand that model inside and out – If you’ve never ridden a bike before, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to teach someone else how to be successful at it. In turn, sales leaders must be able to tell when something isn’t working and when it is, that way they can coach their people to the desired outcome.

When you have a clearer understanding of sales coaching, you may come to realize it wasn’t so darn difficult after all.

This blog post is the third installment in a much broader discussion. Please check out the first post on accountability partners and step goals and our second on the difference between a coach and an accountability partner.

Axiom's Micro-Lesson on Goal Setting for Sales Coaches

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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