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    How to improve sales with better call coaching

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    Better coaching is a critical multiplier toward better sales performance. Among the many specific capabilities managers need, is sales call coaching.

    Call coaching is as old as the telephone, and widely embraced by companies who hire a host of young SDRs. Call coaching can provide managers with deep insight into what is holding salespeople back, and what skills will help them reach the next level. When done well, it drives continuous improvement on the sales team and provides competitive advantage to the organization.

    Here’s how to get better sales performance out of your team, by developing a better call coaching system.

    What’s needed to get call coaching right?

    First and foremost, a good call coaching program never exists in a vacuum. It must be part of a larger sales effectiveness effort at a strategic level, that includes a comprehensive coaching system. Don’t make the mistake of skipping the strategic work and opting for a “quick fix,” such as bringing in a sales trainer for a day of “call training” and expecting that the knowledge will automatically convert into skills and new habits.

    An effective call coaching program consists of five key elements:

    1. A plan and process
    2. A mindset of continuous development
    3. An openness to coaching
    4. The right coaching skills
    5. The right supportive technologies
    An effective call coaching system should include a well-planned cadence, proper questioning skills, and the right supportive software.
    George Brontén

    Developing an effective plan and process is a strategic activity, which we cover in more detail in our coaching white paper. Once your process is defined, then you can analyze your team’s current skills, and identify any gaps. Design training programs to build the right skills, and then support them with the right technologies, and you’ll have a system that provides your team with significant competitive advantage.

    An effective call coaching system is a subset under “coaching skills,” and should include a well-planned cadence, proper questioning skills, and the right supportive software.

    What effective call coaching looks like

    When correctly designed and implemented, an effective call coaching program provides managers with a consistent cadence that defines when and how often they listen in on sales calls. It will also include pre-call and post-call coaching, and good questioning skills.

    Here are some examples of pre-call and post-call questions as a starting point for sales managers. Thanks to best-selling author Dave Kurlan for some of these questions!

    Pre-call coaching questions

    • Who will you be speaking with and why?
    • What is your intended outcome?
    • What would need to happen to get that outcome?
    • What questions will you ask?
    • What are their expectations?
    • What could throw you off?
    • What will you need to prepare?
    • How would you like the call to end?
    • What will you say if they say “ZYX”?

    Post-call coaching questions

    • How did the call end?
    • Why did you get that outcome?
    • What was the reason for that?
    • What could you have done differently?
    • Was it a skill gap or a weakness that was responsible?
    • How do we get this back on track?
    • Let’s role play it.
    • What did you learn?
    • What’s the plan going forward to make sure that doesn’t happen again?

    I suggest adding affirming questions to the list as well, such as, “What do you feel you did well?” “What aspects of that call would you like to repeat on future calls?” and “I really liked how you…”

    Technology to support call coaching 

    In addition to cadence and skills, the call coaching program should provide good supportive tools to the managers and the salespeople. A sales process-focused CRM like Membrain makes sure that each salesperson understands the context of each call, and can access sales enablement content and tools without switching between applications.

    Using a combination of web meeting apps, like Zoom and Gotomeeting, together with software like,, and, calls can automatically be recorded and transcribed, and then analyzed for insights. Managers can access call analytics and choose which calls and at which points to listen in to the recordings, in order to prepare for post-call coaching. These tools can also be useful in developing an overall skills coaching program.

    Of course, call coaching is only one of many areas coaches must master in order to be highly effective. Pipeline, account, opportunity, and general skills coaching, along with reporting, forecasting, and running the business–all of these are critical areas for effective sales managers.

    To learn more about how to design a truly effective sales coaching system, download our white paper here.

    George Brontén
    Published August 2, 2017
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn