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Six Keys to Turn a Sales Manager into a Great Sales Coach

I always wanted to be a coach. My high school coach, Greg DeMarco and my college coach Dave Icenhower (both now no longer with us) were Hall of Fame Coaches and had a tremendous impact on my life.

My oldest brother Bill, is one of the most successful coaches in New York state history. I have often said if I were as successful at my craft as Bill was at his, I would have been on the cover of Fortune Magazine.

These are just three of the people who have influenced my life in a positive way.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad coaches out there giving bad advice to up-and-coming sales people.

Coaching revenue generators (sales, recruiters, etc.) requires a similar approach to coaching athletes. Why, you may ask? Paraphrased from author, Jack Carew, who said the following about the demands of being a salesperson:

  1. A salesperson is never psychologically safe. They often face rejections and resistance to their ideas. The words “no” and “not interested” loom ominously on every phone call, email and any customer/prospect can turn them down. A long-awaited contract may be cancelled.

  2. A salesperson’s job requires focus, endurance and psychological stamina. They must conquer distractions and interruptions. They have to persist until they get a commitment. The company relies on them to bring in the business.

  3. The Quota/Activity Board Tells Your Story. There is no place to hide. All of their successes and failures are out in the open for everyone else to see and pats on the back are few and far between when they fail.¹

Not much different than being an athlete, is it? So, how do we effectively “coach” the revenue generating “athlete?”

The secret to coaching revenue-generating people is to:

simplify, simplify, simplify.

Perhaps the most complex sport to coach is football, yet Alabama’s legendary coach Nick Saban, has distilled the entire game to encouraging each athlete to simply “win your play.”

Six Keys to Effective Sales Coaching:

  1. Teach them to “Win your play.” It doesn’t matter if it is a phone call, a voicemail, an email or a face-to-face meeting, that is—their PLAY. And they must win that play relative to their competition in an effort to advance the relationship with their customer. Are they being the best they can be at every single touch point? If not, you are encouraging bad habits.

  2. Remember: “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” Great coaches are on the field with their players and are into the nitty-gritty of role-practice.

  3. Invest time in the relationship. Get to know their skills. Observe how they plan. Observe how they outbound. Observe how they leave a voicemail. Regularly spend time with them in front of customers and prospects. Observe how they plan for and conduct a meeting with a customer. I can guarantee, based on thousands of ride-a-longs, there is a tremendous opportunity to help them develop their skills.

  4. Provide timely feedback. Like a player who drops a ball in practice or makes a great catch, your feedback should be immediate, constructive and you should conclude by checking for understanding. “Do you see why you need to make the necessary adjustment?”

  5. Ensure that the new behavior sticks. Actions speak louder than words. Make sure that they are making the necessary adjustments to improve their skills.

  6. Consistently coach on the top three things that matter

Coach to strategy

  • The right buyer personas? The key decision makers?

  • Are they calling on the right accounts?

  • Is their segmentation strategy sound?

Coach to activity

  • Are they making enough outbound calls?

  • Are they getting enough face-face meetings?

  • Are they generating enough proposals/solutions?

Coach to skill

  • Are they focused on creating value for their customer through problem-solving?

  • Are their voicemails/emails effective?

  • Can they effectively plan for a sales call?

  • Do they possess solid questioning, active listening and objection handling skills?

As we come full-circle, in coaching sales people, it is all about simplicity—win your play. Help them to be the best they can be at every single touchpoint. Listen to any athlete or any successful business person and I am certain behind each of their respective success stories was a coach who stretched them to be the best they could be.

At Butler Street, We help companies and their people grow.® We specialize in coaching Sales Leaders to be great sales coaches. If interested in learning more, CONTACT US and let’s start the conversation.

¹ Jack Carew, “You’ll Never Get No for an Answer” Pocket Books 1987

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