An Easier Way to Coach Salespeople - For a While

Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group

One of the challenges that sales managers have is their trepidation around transitioning from very little coaching to daily coaching; and at the same time, moving from coaching light (ineffective coaching) to coaching pro (effective coaching).

Why? They aren't masters of role-playing and role-playing is one of the primary tools to demonstrate best practices and how effective sales conversations should sound.

As I suggested to a pair of sales managers today, there is an intermediate step they can take. You can use the following approach to coach to any selling competency but this example helps your salespeople who need to take a more consultative approach.

This is easy - you can do this

After a salesperson completes a sales call ask, "On a zero to ten scale, with ten being a very consultative conversation and zero being a very transactional conversation, how would you rate your performance?"

To coach your salespeople, help them push through their discomfort and overcome weaknesses.
Dave Kurlan

They won't say zero because they're supposed to be taking a consultative approach. They won't say ten because they didn't actually take that consultative approach. They'll respond with a number between four and six. You're off and running!

Next you can ask, "Why did you rate yourself a five?" This causes them to be somewhat introspective about their conversation. "Because I didn't do everything I could have done."

Ask, "What could you have done better?"

Assuming that they answer and identify something they believe would be more consultative, you can ask why they didn't do that. This is when you'll probably hear something about being uncomfortable and discomfort is where the real coaching takes place, like:

  • "I was afraid to ask that because I was worried they wouldn't like me" (Needing to be Liked is a component of Sales DNA)
  • "I was uncomfortable asking that because it's not polite to ask about money" (Conditioning that Talking about money is not polite is a component of Sales DNA)
  • "I was uncomfortable pushing back because I understood their objection" (Understanding means there is a self-limiting belief - a component of Sales DNA)
  • "I was uncomfortable challenging their outdated thinking because I was worried about how they might respond" (worry means they were emotional - a component of Sales DNA)

In order for you to coach up your salespeople, you'll need to help them push through their discomfort and overcome weaknesses in their Sales DNA. You should encourage them, give them permission to fail, remind them every day that it's OK if something bad happens, and when they do that which is uncomfortable, praise them and point out that they survived. Never reprimand for doing something they were uncomfortable with when it yields a negative result.

Look at that - you're actually coaching!

As I mentioned at the outset of this article, this is an easy way to ease into coaching, but this is not a coaching best practice by any stretch. This is not how you coach up salespeople. This is not powerful, impactful coaching where your salespeople can't wait for more. This is simply a starting place.

Article originally published Published on Jan 30th, 2019 on
Dave Kurlan's Blog
Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group
Published February 24, 2019, written by

Dave Kurlan, Objective Management Group

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best selling author, successful entrepreneur and sales development industry pioneer. The founder and CEO of the Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools, headquartered in Westboro, Massachusetts. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He has 3 decades of experience in all facets of sales development, including consulting, training, coaching, selection, strategy, systems, processes, and metrics.

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