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This isn’t a blog on the value of coaching.

The research has been conducted, the books have been written, the jury is in: There are direct business outcomes that can be achieved when managers incorporate coaching into their role. This high level of awareness about the critical need for coaching has been fueling retreats, training, online social learning, white papers and incentives, among a myriad of other initiatives.

So let’s not waste time talking about the value of coaching. What I am going to talk about is why—despite all this awareness of the benefits—coaching still isn’t happening.

A recent Sales Management Association study into coaching indicates that 77% of organizations report that they do too little coaching. And the majority of those that actually are conducting coaching say that it’s ineffective.

Does that ring true as you look across your organization?

The question then is, why the discrepancy between what organizations know they should be doing and what is really happening? In hundreds of instances where we have asked managers directly about their coaching activity, the response is consistently some version of “no time!” or “too busy!” However, when we recently polled people and asked them to rate not themselves personally but their organization’s management team, we got an entirely different response.

Participants in this poll of over 450 organizations told us the number one reason—selected by 44% of respondents—that coaching doesn’t happen is managers lack the skill/capability to coach. Another 23% said managers don’t prioritize coaching. Respondents also told us that less than a quarter (just 22%) of their managers embrace coaching, while the remainder are either reluctant (45%), strongly avoid it (4%) or simply “tolerate it” (29%).

Could it be that “no time” is just a safe way for managers to say, “I don’t have the skills or confidence to coach”? For any of us, if we don’t have confidence in our ability to do a task well, it’s only natural that we’ll find other activities to prioritize in its place.

We picked up another interesting finding from our recent survey: Many organizations are making a fundamental mistake as they try to address this coaching gap—they’re only focusing on one of the three critical coaching conversations.

Let’s take a look at those three conversations and how they influence a manager’s willingness and effectiveness as a coach.

Three Coaching Conversations:

#1: Conversations with Employees: Managers need a track to run on when it comes to coaching, a coaching process that they can have confidence in. This is their coaching skillset—the tangible, observable skills that managers are crying out for to solve the skills/capabilities challenge. The following five-step process will give your managers that platform.

Integrity Solutions India - Coaching Blog


The one step I’ll highlight here is the first one: Ask. The quality of the questions that the manager asks will set the tone for the coaching conversation.

Action Item for Your Managers: Have them take the time to prepare a few questions prior to the coaching conversation to help advance the discussion toward reflection and discovery. A few examples of these kinds of questions include:

1- What are your top commitments in your role for this coming year? How can I best support your pursuit of those?

2- You have a lot on your plate at the moment. What obstacles do you think you might face as you work toward your goal?

3- In order to achieve this goal, what smaller sub-goals will you need to hit? What actions can you take this week to get started on making progress?

4- What could you do that’s a stretch for you at the moment but would be a breakthrough for you?

5- How can I hold you accountable toward the progress you’ve identified as important without it feeling like you’re being micro-managed?

#2: Conversations with Themselves: These internal moments of reflection are the most frequently overlooked factor that contribute to the success or lack of success of coaching initiatives.

While managers may have several coaching conversations with their employees during the course of a day, they will have dozens of conversations with themselves about their coaching. This is the coaching mindset. How managers think about coaching, and how they internalize their own ability and the potential of their employees, will ultimately determine their success. Any coaching training must incorporate this essential element for long-term success. The majority of those polled during our webinar agreed, saying this is the area that’s most important for their managers to develop.

There are five components to conversation #2:


One component—“View of Coaching”—is especially noteworthy. If you stop 50 managers and ask them to describe their perception of what coaching is, you may get 50 different answers. If you are developing coaching initiatives in your organization, it’s critical to make sure that everyone clearly understands what effective coaching is, and what it is not. You may be surprised at the variety of perceptions within your management team.

#3: Conversation with their Coach: Who is coaching the coaches in your organization? How is the executive team directly supporting coaching? What messages are senior leaders sending, either consciously or unconsciously, regarding the importance of coaching?

It’s great to train the front-line managers on effective coaching skills. But if this is not being supported environmentally within your organization, managers will be facing challenging headwinds to sustaining any momentum.

You know coaching is important. If managers in your organization aren’t consistently doing it, look beneath the surface. Otherwise, you may fall into the trap of addressing symptoms rather than causes. Make sure you’re getting at the real reasons for this discrepancy as you focus on bridging that gap.

Re – Blogged From:- Integrity Solutions 



Sales coaching is a topic that gets a lot of attention today, but that doesn’t mean companies are actively investing in developing coaches. In fact, many managers are given the responsibility as part of the job, without much in the way of preparation or support.

This is a shame, because effective coaching doesn’t just happen, and yet, the impact of great coaches can be far-reaching. By not only lifting productivity and performance but also building bonds of trust and loyalty, a strong coaching culture can quickly become a company’s key strategic differentiator. Talented employees will want to work there, and top performers will want to stay. After all, when you have a good relationship with a manager who’s invested in growing and developing you, that’s a risky thing to leave; you may not find it with the next manager.

But here’s the hard reality: Being a good sales manager doesn’t make you a good sales coach.

While the managerial role requires tactical, analytical and operational business skills, the coaching role is different; it focuses on the human side of the equation. It requires managers to be able to reach into the relationships with the people on their team, find out what their strengths and goals are, and then help align those to the job that needs to be done.

Fundamentally, a manager’s job is to get things done with and through other people, so this coaching responsibility is an essential piece of the puzzle. It’s why great leaders are often both good managers and good coaches. They’re complementary roles, not mutually exclusive ones.

Building Coaching Confidence

Again, this doesn’t happen simply by adding “sales coach” to the list of the manager’s job responsibilities. In many cases, it’s not even a question of whether the manager has specific coaching skills. Confidence and mindset have a huge influence on both a manager’s coaching effectiveness and a salesperson’s selling success. Just like the most successful salespeople have an internal drive to sell, the most effective sales coaches have an internal drive to invest in other people.

This is something that can be developed and nurtured, but the organization has to recognize it and make it a priority. If managers don’t understand and know how to address these “EQ” issues, including potential negative perceptions or limiting attitudes about coaching and selling, they will struggle in the role, regardless of their skill level.

Deepening Sales Performance

Of course, an investment in sales coaching isn’t just for the manager’s benefit. It’s ultimately about improving individual sales performance and committing to the ongoing success of top performers. But one of the questions I often hear is, isn’t training enough?

While it’s true that a single training event may be able to provide an immediate performance lift, in most cases, the improvements are going to be limited and short-term at best, particularly if the world around that individual doesn’t support new behaviors and attitudes.

The salesperson needs to come back to an environment and a culture that says, we see potential in what you’re doing and we want to help you grow. As such, the coach plays a big role in sustaining and accelerating those new behaviors. When you invest in sales training without coupling it with effective coaching and a process to support it, it’s not going to get you the same kind of results.

Sales Coaching Pays Off—Many Times Over

Why invest in sales coaching? Because it’s an investment that delivers in multiple ways, from increasing the return on your sales training investments to enhancing trust in the organization. And as trust grows, so does productivity—people want to show up and do more.

In other words, when you invest in coaching and make it a priority, you’re building a wall of protection around your greatest people. And that’s how coaching can become your best strategic defense.

By Derek Roberts

Re- Blogged From :- Integrity Solutions


“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” -Yogi Berra

I love that quote. It fits so well into the world of sales, where salespeople are regularly expected to give more than 100%. And while it’s certainly true that half of sales success can be attributed to skills, it’s also true that there is a strong mental component to being “at the top of your game.” In both professions, coaches have to focus on more than just the player’s tactical skills. They need to focus on the whole person: body and mind.

What good coaching looks like?

At CSO insights, we define coaching as “a process which uses structured conversations to help salespeople develop their performance in the short and long term.” I like that definition for several reasons:

  • It focuses on the dialogue that needs to happen between salesperson and manager. Coaching is not about performing the role for the salesperson—a trap many first-time sales managers fall into. Coaching is not about telling what to do. Instead, it’s about asking the right questions to help the salesperson develop adaptive selling skills that allow them to reach ever-higher levels of performance and self-sufficiency in a dynamic selling environment.
  • These conversations are structured, following a proven approach for improving performance in sales and service roles, tailored along the entire customer’s journey. They are not drive-by criticisms that leave the struggling person more demoralized than motivated. Nor are they “atta-boy” comments about good performance that do nothing to turn around problem areas.
  • The focus is on both the short- and long-term performance goals. Coaching that focuses only on the short term will never create sustainable performance improvements.

Our work also emphasizes the need for front-line managers to focus both on managing the activities and coaching the related behaviors that lead to results and can be managed directly. That last component is vitally important. Many new managers make the mistake of focusing on end results, e.g., quota attainment, but not enough on how to get there. In their defense, it’s often not their fault. This is the way they were managed, and they are just modeling the non-coaching behavior of their previous bosses.

The problem is that you can’t really “manage” a quota or revenue. You can only manage the activities and the related behaviors—pre-call prep, adherence to proven sales methodologies, tailoring the value messages, collaborative selling techniques, etc.—that lead to this desired outcome.

The conference on the mound

Baseball isn’t nearly as popular in Europe as it is in the U.S., but given how much traveling I do in America, I’ve watched a game or two. I can’t say that I’ve grasped all the nuances yet, but one aspect of the game fascinates me: the conference on the mound. To me, this is coaching put to the test.

This conference seems to happen most often when a pitcher is struggling. The coach, followed by the catcher, trots out to the mound for a short, private confab with the pitcher. I’m not sure what gets said, but I doubt the coach is instructing the pitcher on the finer points of throwing a curve ball. The time for that has passed. Nor do I think the coach is threatening the pitcher: Strike this guy out or you’re finished! That would hardly be helpful in an already stressful setting.

More than likely, the coach is sharing some perspective on the game that the pitcher doesn’t see because he’s under so much mental stress. It also seems likely that he’s offering a few words of encouragement, maybe even asking the pitcher how he’s feeling, e.g., How’s your shoulder holding out? He wants to make sure the pitcher still feels confident in his ability to perform. It’s the ultimate moment of truth for coaching because there isn’t much time for the discussion, and everyone, including the coach, is under pressure.

Sound familiar?

A typical sales or service coaching session is no less pressure-filled for all involved. And the same strategies that work so well on the mound apply here, too. That’s why Integrity Solutions’ laser-like focus on the mental side of the frontline manager’s coaching responsibilities is so important—and so effective. Their % drivers of high achievment sets a pitch-perfect tone for a productive coaching session by encouraging the coach to create a supportive environment focused on how the person can succeed rather than dwelling on what’s going wrong. Not only does this approach help the person improve their performance, it helps keep their attitude positive and their head in the game.

No matter who the players are, that’s a winning formula.

Tamara-Blue-5-213x220Guest blog contribution
By Tamara Schenk
Research Director, CSO Insights

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Mindsets are a powerful thing. They can be deeply ingraine–and difficult to change. Stanford University Mindset Psychologist Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, famously studied the behavior of thousands of children. She found that when they believed their intelligence and abilities could grow, they had a desire to learn and, as a result, were willing to embrace the challenges necessary to keep achieving more. They didn’t give up in the face of criticism or setback.

Dweck coined the term “growth mindset” to describe the mindset of these children, as opposed to those with a “fixed mindset,” who believe their intelligence is static and, therefore, are more likely to avoid challenges and negative feedback, ultimately plateauing before they ever achieve their full potential.


The correlations to the workplace aren’t hard to see. If you’re a manager or HR professional, consider the different employees you’ve worked with and developed over the years. Were there some who seemed eager to tackle the tough assignments and put in the effort, able to bounce back from setbacks and find the lessons in others’ success?

Contrast that with the employees who gave up easily when any obstacle got in the way, who looked for ways to avoid challenges and didn’t see the point in putting in the effort. They probably ignored useful feedback and felt threatened by others’ success.

Growth-mindset employees tend to be high performers because they believe they can keep achieving more. Even though work problems have become increasingly complex and the environment keeps changing, they’re driven by an inner motivation that says, “I can keep learning and rising to the challenge.”

Fixed-mindset employees often stall out—or worse. They believe they can’t, and so they don’t.

Coaching Growth-Mindset Beliefs Starts with the Manager’s Mindset

To build high performance across the organization, managers should encourage and promote a growth mindset among all employees. To do that, they first have to believe that the solutions to the challenges their employees face can be found within the employees themselves. Too many managers have their own fixed mindsets about what an employee’s growth potential might be, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When managers assume that their employees’ ability to learn and adapt are finite, limiting their horizons for personal and professional growth, it can cause good company cultures to deteriorate, strategy to derail, talent to be squandered and results to suffer.

A growth mindset is essential not just for employee performance but also for the manager’s performance as an effective coach.

Expanding Belief Boundaries

Great coaches understand how an employee’s belief boundaries will affect what they perceive as possible, and how these boundaries either help or hinder progress towards achieving higher levels of performance.

So, what are belief boundaries? Over time people form certain beliefs about themselves, and these beliefs influence their view of what they believe they can achieve. As a result, they:

  • Form boundaries around their own inner beliefs.
  • Make assumptions about their abilities that directly relate to their inner beliefs.
  • Use inner beliefs as a mental paradigm that controls and regulates their actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities.


A coaching culture that supports a growth mindset hinges on expanding an employee’s belief boundaries, starting with understanding how their beliefs and values are influencing their emotions, which in turn are driving their behaviors and actions. When coaching efforts shift from providing feedback to building self-discovery, belief boundaries incrementally stretch, creating an emotional openness to learning new skills and behaviors.

Steps to Building a Growth-Mindset Coaching Culture

Here’s an action plan to get started building your growth-mindset coaching culture:

Senior Leadership Steps

  • Create new expectations and clear accountabilities for coaching, with all levels of managers responsible for improving their teams’ behaviors, attitudes and skills.
  • Communicate and model core organizational leadership values and behaviors, emphasizing that coaching is an authentic, honest desire to develop managers and their teams to their full potential. Without this, other management levels will not follow.

Middle Management Steps

  • Encourage coaching as a tool to achieve business results.
  • Reinforce that coaching is also about building a shared purpose, connecting coaching conversations with organizational values, direction and strategy.
  • Coach the coaches, using the power of questions coupled with listening to gain an accurate picture of how frontline managers are effectively leading and coaching.

Frontline Management Steps

  • Understand the drivers of human behavior—emotions, beliefs and values—using these insights to break through perceived blocks inhibiting employee success.
  • Use the power of questions to build employee self-discovery.
  • Know when to be non-directive (listening, questioning, clarifying, to promote creative thinking and idea generation) and when to be more directive (giving advice and training).
  • Respond to resistance by uncovering the true root cause of employee disengagement, and treat failure as an opportunity to learn.

When a manager sees more in their employees than they themselves see and is able to express a genuine confidence in their ability to succeed, employees will rise to meet higher expectations. Expanding belief boundaries and building a growth mindset at all levels improves problem solving and increases creativity and innovation across the organization. And as new levels of success occur, employees will continue to form new behaviors and keep improving their performance.

About the author

LIsa BullockLisa Bullock has over 20 years experience working with Global 1000 companies to link strategic business objectives to high impact learning solutions. Contact Lisa at

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”
-Tommy Lasorda

Even world-class salespeople don’t win every deal. In fact, the best of the best are willing to walk away from deals that aren’t win/win-the solution doesn’t address the challenge, for example, or the buyer is demanding price concessions but offering nothing in return. They understand that their time is better spent focusing on the remaining one-third that are both winnable and winning.

In sales, just as in baseball, coaches make all the difference. In my last post, I talked about how coaches need to have the skills and mentality to coach the whole salesperson: body and mind. It may sound like a relatively easy thing to do, but as anyone who has ever been a front-line manager in a dynamic sales or service environment and/or a highly competitive market knows, it’s not. However, one thing I can tell you that we’ve learned from both anecdotal evidence and our research: This kind of sales coaching works!

Let’s take a closer look at what it all means for your sales coaching and leadership development strategies—particularly if improving win rates and quota attainment are important goals for you in 2017.

4 Levels of Coaching

Before we get into the results from our research, it’s important to have a common understanding of the different levels of coaching. To set the stage, I’ll use sports as an example again, but this time, I will focus on the sport’s youngest players and how they are coached and developed.

In youth sports, every team has a coach, but what that coach does varies widely between teams—even teams in the same city and at the same age level. Some coaches operate as though their role is nothing more than an overseer, there to make sure the kids play nice and don’t get hurt. Others make a sincere attempt at teaching the kids to play the sport, but since they don’t have real-life experience playing the game themselves, their efforts are relatively ineffectual. A few lucky teams have coaches who know both how to coach children and how to play the sport.

Almost every sales team has coaches as well: typically, the frontline sales managers. Like the youth coaches, their experience and skillset varies widely. So, too, does the level of guidance they get from sales leadership. We’ve formalized this into a coaching model that covers four levels:

Ad-hoc coaching: At this level, the approach to coaching, including whether it happens or not, is up to the individual managers. Left to their own skills and devices, the quality of coaching at this level varies widely. If the managers were never coached well themselves, their efforts will reflect that. It’s at this level that we most often see managers trying to “coach” results—“How will you make quota this month?”, instead of coaching the behaviors and activities that lead to results.

Informal coaching: At this level, the organization recognizes that coaching is vital to success, but it is probably still struggling with what works. There is no formal coaching process defined. Tools to support coaching efforts are few and far between, and there are no established best practices.

Formal coaching: A formal coaching process exists at this level, ideally derived from the customer’s journey. The frontline managers have been trained and educated, and they are required to use the coaching approach to improve performance. Enablement produces coaching guidelines and tools and provides related training sessions to develop the managers and to support their efforts. Best practices are documented and formalized.

Dynamic coaching: The ultimate goal, dynamic coaching, only happens when the formal coaching approach is also tightly aligned with the enablement approach, ensuring that coaching reinforces the enablement investments. At this level, there are principles and best practices, and frontline managers have developed a coaching fluency that allows them to adapt their approach to a dynamic selling and buying environment. Ideally, frontline managers are measured and compensated in part based on how they coach and their commitment to consistent and effective coaching practices.

 Sales Coaching: The Results Are In

With an understanding of the four levels of coaching, let’s look at what our research tells us. Our 2016 sales enablment organisational study uncovered a clear improvement in both win rate and quota attainment as organizations moved from ad-hoc coaching to dynamic coaching. Win rate jumps to an astounding 17.4%.

Amazingly, the study also found that 72% of sales organizations have only an ad-hoc or informal coaching approach. Another 21.7% said they have a formal approach, but only 5.3% said it is aligned with their sales enablement programs.

For organizations looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage, a formal coaching program may be just the ticket.

Tamara-Blue-5-213x220Guest blog contribution

By Tamara Schenk

Research Director, CSO Insights


Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Most of us recognize the need for managers, but if we’re honest, we don’t really like being managed.

This is especially true if being managed is really code for being micro-managed, or criticized, or fixed. I don’t want to be scolded, condescended to or threatened. Yet those behaviors might sound familiar to you because this is still how many organizations approach managing their people.

How about performance reviews? Anybody love those? Well, maybe the high achiever, the boss’s ace who knows he or she will get nothing but praise. But for most of us, the performance review feels like the manager just arrived at the scene of a car wreck that was our fault.

Is this exaggerated? Am I just creating a “straw man”—or is there a nugget of truth about how managers work in your organization? There is little doubt that many companies today struggle to form that healthy relationship between manager and team member. What a tenuous connection this can be.


Perhaps it is time to move from managing to coaching.

Managing vs. Coaching

Of course, many people might still balk at the idea of being “coached,” especially if it’s like my high school coach who thought that the best way to correct mistakes was to yell at me and make me run laps. That sounds a lot like the managing described above.

So, what’s the difference between managing and coaching? Are they the same thing? Aren’t coaches really managers who like sports analogies? No. Not even close.

Managing is administrative (schedules, appointments, accounts). Managing is operational. Managing is transactional. Managing is governance. This is why few people want to be managed. But do they want to be coached? Do they want to be led? I think they do.

Think about the Olympic athletes who rely on their coaches to help them push through both internal and external barriers to not just achieveathlete-flames world-class performance but also to make real on their promise, to deliver their personal best. Coaching is personal. It’s relational.

Coaching is leading. It’s inspiring. Coaching looks forward and backward. It’s not only reviewing the tape; it’s installing the game plan. It’s practicing the game plan, and it’s “repping.” Coaching is intentional.

Here’s what coaching also is. It’s believing in people, perhaps even more than they believe in themselves. It’s seeing their potential, building them up, encouraging, empowering, equipping, and caring. It’s helping people unleash the potential and the achievement drive within them. It is guiding them to discover for themselves just how good they can be.

If this is coaching….who wouldn’t want to be coached?

Try turning a manager into a coach this way and see what happens. Once your team member understands how coaching can improve his or her career and life, the entire manager-team member relationship will be changed forever and for the better.

By the same token, if this is coaching, who wouldn’t want to be the coach? Who doesn’t want to enrich the lives of others? If I, as a manager, can truly empower someone to reach a level of performance even they did not think was possible—to put my fingerprints on their success and leave a legacy in their life—what a great privilege! What a joy!

What a difference managers who coach can make…


By Jim Ryan
Business Associate


Re- Blogged From:- Integrity Solutions


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Should you take the risk and promote your top-performing salesperson to manager?

The stakes are high. You’re not only going to lose a great player on the field, you’re also making a bet that their outstanding current performance will translate into this new role.

The debate over whether the best salespeople will make great sales managers has been going on for decades. While in many professions, there’s often a logical career progression up the ranks to management, it’s not necessarily so clear-cut in the world of sales.

One of the reasons is that many of the factors that make a salesperson a top performer are quite different from what it takes to be an effective sales manager. A few of those characteristics might even hamper their success as a manager.

But maybe a more productive starting point for the conversation is to consider what makes a great sales manager in the first place. Is it micro-managing, picking up the slack, criticizing poor performance or stepping in to “fix” what’s wrong?

Not hardly.

And while there are certainly operational aspects to sales management—staffing, reporting, planning, budgeting and other activities—the ultimate goal for every sales manager is to make sure their salespeople are able to reach their full potential so that they can not only hit their numbers and build a strong, loyal customer base but also be more fulfilled in their work and committed to the business.

In fact, you could say that the great sales managers are those who move people from where they are today to where they want to be.

Fittingly, that’s also one of the historical definitions of the word “coach.”

Why Companies Struggle to Develop Great Coaches

In a recent Sales Management Association research report on Hiring Top Sales Management Talent, coaching ability ranked among the top five competencies companies consider when evaluating a salesperson’s qualifications for a management promotion. Considering how integral coaching is to the role, this isn’t surprising. But what’s worrying is the fact that firms in the study rated their effectiveness at developing managers’ coaching ability at only 50 on a 100-point scale.

Where are they going off track? Well, they could be overlooking one the most important factors in coaching success.

No, it’s no some magical skill or technique. While there are some skills every sales manager needs to develop to be a successful coach, coaching ability is more than a skills issue. Values, a genuine belief in people and a desire to help them grow are often far more influential when it comes to a manager’s coaching effectiveness.

Here’s why: When employees fail to achieve desired results, managers often assume they’ve peaked in their performance and stop challenging them to improve. Once employees discover the level of performance managers will accept, they settle in. We call this “The Law of Limited Performance.” This limiting loop of beliefs is a self-fulfilling prophecy on both sides of the equation, and it inevitably results in lower productivity and untapped potential.

So while many companies may offer their managers training on how to coach their salespeople, if they miss this key factor, their efforts will invariably come up short.

Putting Values and Beliefs in Focus

Being able to run the operation is very different from having the awareness or the critical coaching capabilities to inspire team members to grow, improve and deliver what is possible.

The question is, how do you develop this core coaching success factor? How can you improve the odds that your great salespeople—or even your great sales managers—can be fully successful in the role?

Any training that you implement should be grounded in helping managers understand and learn how to break The Law of Limited Performance, starting with their own beliefs about their role.

Self-reflection is the first step in making the shift. Here are five questions that will help them gauge their own readiness and begin to understand the mindset, values and beliefs necessary to be an effective coach:

  • Do I believe the coaching is developing potential in people?
  • Do I believe I have the ability to be highly successful as I coach?
  • Do I live by and model values of integrity, honesty and sincerity?
  • Am I willing to do all the activities required to be a successful coach?
  • Do I have an unwavering belief in the potential of my people?

Coaching is as much about the manager’s own development as it is about developing the performance of their people. The good news is, developing those hi-potential players and managers into great coaches is more than worth it. A Bersin by Deloitte study found that the organizations that effectively prepare managers to coach are 130% more likely to realize stronger business results.

Here’s the even better news: It’s not just business; it’s personal. If you’ve ever had someone in your life who helped you recognize your potential and see greater possibilities, then you know the powerful difference a great coach can make.




By Mike Fisher

This blog was originally published through our partners at The Sales Management Association.

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A few weeks ago, we discussed coaching essentials and, in particular, how much time best-in-class performers spend on coaching their salespeople so that everybody wins. Let’s take another look at what coaching is and what it isn’t:

Sales coaching is a leadership skill to develop each person’s full potential. Sales managers use their domain expertise, along with social, communication, and questioning skills, to facilitate conversations with their team members that allow them to discover areas for improvement and possibilities, to break through to new levels of success. Successful coaches are also able to reinforce salespeople’s values and beliefs about selling as a way to create value for customers. As a result, it’s a practice that connects with people’s hearts as well as their minds, helping them develop confidence, see past their own self-imposed limits, and take ownership of their success.

Coaching isn’t about catching mistakes and solving people’s problems. Nor is it reviewing opportunities based on questions like, “What’s your forecast this week?” or, “I need you to increase your pipeline.”

The foundation for effective coaching: A coaching framework

Effective coaching doesn’t just happen. One of the key factors high performers have in place to ensure that coaching is successful and delivers increased sales performance is a coaching framework or process. As our data shows, the lack of a coaching process is still a big gap in sales organizations: 45% of respondents from our 2015 Sales Enablement Optimization Study reported that coaching is left up to the managers, 25.5% have an informal coaching process, and only 20.2% indicated they have a formal coaching process. These numbers reveal a huge opportunity for improvement, because as we’ll see, formalization pays off. Significantly.

A coaching framework consists of a formal coaching process that follows the customer’s journey mapped to your sales process. Additionally, you need various coaching services to bring coaching alive in your organization. These might include guidelines that have coaching questions for each stage along the customer’s journey covering different use cases.

Coaching services also encompass development programs for the sales managers, giving them the foundational learning they need to develop their coaching skills generally and specifically as it relates to sales. Learning best practices, such as ongoing reinforcement, application, and follow-up are also critical.

Last but not least, coaching should leverage technology. The more data a sales manager has access to, like the actions salespeople have taken, content that has been shared, and how the prospect has reacted, the more effective a coaching process can become. In an ideal world, the salesperson should have received new ideas on actions that were not successful to sharpen the deal strategy or the engagement model.

Creating an effective coaching framework starts with mapping the organization’s sales processes to the customer’s journey to see how each phase of the sales professional’s journey corresponds to the customer’s journey, and even more importantly, the required gates between each phase. For each gate on the customer’s side, there has to be an equivalent on the sales side.

Companies then need to ensure that coaching sessions reinforce and enforce that both activities from the customer and the sales side have actually occurred. For example, it is not enough to know that the salesperson has sent the prospect a needs analysis review email. They also need to ensure that the key stakeholder has emailed back confirming the sales professional’s assumptions or clarifying any misunderstandings.

To get started, your coaching framework should cover the most essential coaching areas: coaching on skills and behaviors as well as lead and opportunity coaching. Both areas have overlaps, as coaching on an opportunity may also address behavioral issues. On the other hand, whenever an organization is going through a sales transformation, for instance, from product selling to value-based selling, coaching on skills and behaviors should be the priority. Most of the time, successfully changing behaviors takes time and an excellent coaching approach to making the changes sustainable. Therefore, the combination of initial training sessions for salespeople and ongoing, specific coaching sessions on skills and behaviors should lead to initial success (low-hanging fruit)and drive sustainable change in salespeople. Gentle change is lasting change, and it needs a well-thought-through coaching approach, as described above.


Formal coaching drives win rates of forecasted deals up to 9 percent!

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As mentioned above, formalizing coaching is not meant to keep you busy. Instead, implementing a coaching framework is a necessity if coaching is to drive sales results. Our data shows a significant impact. Think about what a 9% increased win rate for your forecasted deals could mean. We are sure this is a number you cannot ignore!

Coaching matters. Coaching matters even more when it’s set up the right way. Formalize your coaching approach to driving sustainable sales results.




About the Author




Tamara Schenk, Research Director, CSO Insights

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