November 14

Sales Managers: Avoid This Common Coaching Mistake


Well-intentioned sales managers often conduct the same coaching conversations over and over with their sales team, but see little change in selling behaviors.

Why? Because they haven’t identified the root cause behind the sales-performance challenge and as a result, they’re working on the wrong end of the problem. When hearing or seeing the presenting sales problem, it’s easy for sales managers to default to teaching more consultative selling skills.  In some cases, this does improve sales results but in many it does not.

I know because I’ve made this mistake. As a result, none of my great advice made any difference because I wasn’t addressing the real problem.

It’s similar to the phrase, “When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” And in sales management, sales-performance issues can take on the look of a nail with sales managers hammering out the same advice.

So how do sales managers avoid this common coaching mistake?

Slow down, step back and apply your problem-solving skills. Even if you think you know the solution, ask more questions in order to gain clarity on the root cause of a sellers ineffective selling behaviors and results.

For example, you’ve got a salesperson that is really consistent -- she consistently discounts too soon and too often, even after attending a negotiations skills course. This salesperson doesn’t need more education or coaching around negotiation skills. She needs coaching on emotion-management skills, on how to remain calm and relaxed when dealing with good negotiators.

It is only when a salesperson is ABLE to remain stable that they’re ABLE to execute the right selling behaviors.

Perhaps you have a salesperson on your team that just can’t seem to achieve his weekly or monthly sales activity metrics. As a proactive sales manager, your first inclination might be to schedule a coaching conversation about the importance and value of consistent prospecting.


This salesperson doesn’t need another conversation on the value of achieving sales activity metrics. He understands and buys into the value of consistent business development. The real problem is that this salesperson is disorganized. His calendar, not him, is running his week. He hasn’t been taught the basics of calendar blocking. This salesperson needs education on  good time management, as well as productivity habits and skills.

Sales managers, as you conduct your one-on-one coaching sessions with your sales team, ask yourself this question: Am I working on the right end of the sales-performance issue?

Good Selling! 


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