Sales Leadership: Are You a Good Coach?

This guest post was written by AXIOM Sr. Instructor Mike Crocker.

Sales Leadership,Sales Transformation,Sales Coaching,Leadership Development 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 is 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. 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 there 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.

When we are 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 to 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 are losing coaching leverage by failing to do anything meaningful to help resolve the underlying problems. If we are 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 behaviour that will lead to better results. It isn’t easy, but when done properly and consistently it can have dramatic impact on the success of our sellers.

  • 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?

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