An Easier Way to Coach Salespeople - For a While

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 30, 2019 @ 17:01 PM


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?"

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.  

"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"I was uncomfortable challenging their outdated thinking because I was worried about how they might respond" (worry means they were emotional - a component of Sales DNA)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.

Would you like to learn how to conduct powerful, impactful, meaningful coaching of your salespeople?  Join me for my March Sales Leadership Intensive.  You can't get better training on how to be an effective sales coach.  Watch a video testimonial.  Watch another video testimonial. Watch me talking about the event from :20 to 1:22 in this video.  Register and save $100.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management training, sales leadership training, coaching salespeople

Top Kurlan Articles on Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 @ 15:12 PM

There are probably topics which I've written about more often than coaching salespeople, but none that are more important or have greater impact than coaching salespeople.  I present my Top Articles on Coaching Salespeople:

Most Salespeople Are Wrong about the Concept of Being Willing to Walk

Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Millennials or Veteran Salespeople?

Successful Movie Franchises and the 10 Keys to Impactful Sales Coaching

7 Reasons Why Salespeople Underperform and How Sales Leaders Can Coach Them Up

What Sales Managers Do That Make Them So Ineffective

Why So Many Sales Managers are So Bad

Must Read - This Email Proves How Poorly the Bottom 74% of Salespeople Perform

Sales Coaching and the Challenges of Different Types of Salespeople

Sales Performance - Stop Worrying About the Words You Say

The Real Impact of Coaching Your Salespeople, Sales Managers

College Basketball vs. the Pros & Sales Management & Selling

Actual Coaching Call - Use it to Coach Your Salespeople to Success

20 Reasons Why Sales Managers Suck at Coaching 

How Sales Managers Should Coach Their Salespeople

This is How Sales Managers Should Coach Their Salespeople

How the Landscape Quickly Changes on Your Salespeople

Improve Your Sales Force Despite Veteran Salespeople

Sales Managers Must Make Sure That This Never Happens

Is a Lost Sale Better for Salespeople Than a Win?

Developing Top Performers - How to Turn Salespeople into A-Players

Sales Coaching Lessons from the Baseball Files

The 5 Keys to Effective Sales Coaching and Results

Gaining Sales Traction is Like Talking to Kids

10 Sales Coaching Examples

Sales Strategy and Tactics - Thoughts from the Super Bowl

13 Most Important Tools for Coaching Salespeople

5 Steps to Coaching Your Salespeople Beyond Happy Ears

Hierarchy of Sales Coaching - How to Change Behavior

Sales Coaching - The Big Differentiator 

How to Find Compelling Reasons

How to Coach a Salesperson (contains real email thread)

Sales Coaching - Between the Lines

When Coaching Salespeople Isn't Coaching

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

How to Simplify Coaching Salespeople

Successful Movie Franchises and the 10 Keys to Impactful Sales Coaching

What Percentage of Sales Managers Have the Necessary Coaching Skills?



Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, coaching salespeople, sales management coaching, sales mentoring

Real Live Coaching Call - Coaching a Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Feb 07, 2010 @ 20:02 PM

Clients who receive sales management coaching, training and development come to know what an effective sales coaching conversation sounds like.  You may not be privy to that so you might find last week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts helpful.

Chris Mott was my guest and he coached a live caller for about 30 minutes.  Listen to the show for a better sense of what every coaching conversation should sound like.  The following email was received from the live caller the day after the scheduled sales call:

"I did as you and Chris suggested...In the end, he suggested his PL department start quoting [us] more broadly to see how we perform, that he would reach out to one of the VPs to coordinate a meeting where I would introduce [our] products to
his producers, and also that I profile a book of his business.  It didn't
come easy, but it did come, at 'his suggestion'...Thanks so much for the

I've written several articles on coaching salespeople and one includes an actual email thread.  You can read them below:

5 Steps to Coaching Your Salespeople Beyond Happy Ears

When Coaching Salespeople Isn't Coaching

Coaching - 1st of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Competencies

Sales Coaching - The Big Differeniator

How to Coach a Salesperson (contains real email thread)

Hierarchy of Sales Coaching - How to Change Behavior

Sales Coaching - Between the Lines 

10 Sales Coaching Examples

Sales Strategy and Tactics - Thoughts from the Super Bowl

Great Coaching Advice from Football's Greatest

Penn State Football Coach Just Like Dysfunctional Sales Management


Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Chris.

If you listened to the show, what did you learn that will help you?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, chris mott, coaching salespeople

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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