The Case for Using Audio for  Great Sales Coaching

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 @ 13:12 PM


Have you ever recorded a new voicemail greeting only to re-record it multiple times because the words were not right, your tonality was off, the flow was bad or you just didn’t like how you sounded?

When we call a business for customer support, virtually every major company has a “This call may be recorded for coaching” message. Many technology companies with inside sales organizations use call recording software, yet many don’t leverage these tools for coaching.  When I ask a group of salespeople how often they listen to their own sales calls  less than 10% typically say yes. When I ask about the frequency of calls they record the number is even lower.  If salespeople simply asked more and better questions and more relevant questions their success rate would rise, yet almost no one reviews and improves their single biggest asset - how they sound on the phone.

The reasons for not recording and listening include: 

  • I don’t know how 
  • It will take a lot of time
  • I’m not sure what to coach people on
  • People don’t like listening to themselves
  • I don't think it will really help?

Salespeople frequently struggle with transitions because they spend too much time in some areas and not enough in others. If you break a call into simple parts; the introduction, rapport, expectations, questioning, summary and next steps you can identify the areas that need the most work. 

One of the biggest obstacles to being effective on the phone is expectations. Identifying a clear, appropriate, desired outcome and getting the prospect to agree to this upfront helps enormously. Pre-call strategy helps but what actually happens on the call is usually quite different from what was strategized and practiced. Without hearing the actual call, sales managers must coach to the outcome instead of what caused the outcome.

To have real impact on their salespeople, sales leaders must help their salespeople identify what they could have done differently and how this will improve their conversations and their outcomes.

Common opportunities for improvement are:

  • Did the salesperson ask one question or three at a time?
  • Did the prospect answer the question?
  • Did the salesperson repeat the question if necessary?
  • Are salespeople asking for clarification on the “labels” used, i.e. happy, fast or expensive?
  • Do salespeople allow their prospects to finish?
  • Are they interrupting?
  • How often are they summarizing?
  • Are they saying things to keep their prospects comfortable?
  • What was said that your salespeople missed?

A simple way to get started is to have a salesperson pick a call they want to review. Using the questions above as a guide, listen to it and make notes on the challenges / opportunities for improvement. Then, listen to the call with the salesperson and stop at the point(s) where you heard something important. Ask them what they heard. Your goal is to get them to identify the areas for improvement. Ask them what may have caused the challenge identified and what would have happened if they had done something different.

You may have to tell people what you heard, but resist your desire to explain. When salespeople self-discover their challenges it sticks, when you tell them, it may not. 

As for those who don’t use audio coaching enough, the question you need to ask yourself is, am I going to continue to accept my own rationalization for not leveraging this powerful tool? Can you imagine elite athletes not watching game film? I can’t!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

Are Your Salespeople Great Ambassadors?

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 12:10 PM

Recently, I was at a conference and the terrific keynote speaker shared a story about a one million dollar account, the no-brainer annual renewal, and how the salesperson completely blew the deal with one ill-conceived sentence. In this scenario, the salesperson completely failed to understand and appreciate some of the sensitivities of his corporate audience. It is important to recognize that Management is responsible for recognizing these challenges while providing skills coaching to a salesperson's Ambassadorial temperament.  

Have you have ever conducted a customer feedback survey? If so, you have likely heard things that made you cringe. Customer-facing people will create, reinforce and often taint client and prospect perceptions of your company. Problems with messaging, tone and clarity usually have quite a lasting impact. 

In this video, I discuss this and offer some important insights.

Do you want to know more about what motivates and holds your salespeople back? Take a few minutes to complete the checklist below.


Topics: chris mott, coaching salespeople, account management, win-loss analysis

What Untrainable Salespeople Sound Like and What That Means to You

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Sep 09, 2015 @ 09:09 AM

When a salesperson needs help, but appears to be untrainable or uncoachable, it's like they are a fish out of water. We know that selling has changed dramtically since 2009. The pressure on companies to adapt to these changes are greater than ever. Unfortunately, a measurable percentage of salespeople lack the personal incentive to change. All too frequently this includes top performers. Building a great sales force requires a core of people who are fundamentally sound and committed to improving their skills and effectiveness. In the video below I discuss what it sounds like when salespeople aren't Coachable and/or Trainable.         

If you want to learn more about your salesforce and how much better it can be click on the link below. 


Topics: sales training, sales motivation, chris mott, coaching salespeople

Sales Management Lessons My Dog Taught Me

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 13:10 PM

Sales and sales management lessons can come from anywhere!  Keep your eyes wide open, look for applications, and try them out.  While best practices always rule, even the best of those probably began as somebody's trial-and-error project.
Which brings us to the topic of today's video.  Do you have or know someone who has a dog?  Do you even like dogs?  Cesar Millan, sometimes referred to as the "Dog Whisperer", uses his own pack of dogs to correct the bad habits of dogs he is training. It turns out that dog packs have a significant impact on a dog's behavior.  Sales Managers can learn a lot from this!

In today's video, I would like to share some simple, but powerful sales management lessons that my dog, Lily, and her trainer taught me over the weekend:

Are you looking for additional ways to improve sales productivity?  Are the following questions on your mind?
  • How is Sales DNA impacting optimum results?
  • Why is sales forecasting so unpredictable?
  • What are our motivation challenges?
  • How can I be a better sales leader?
  • How can we be better at selling consultatively?
If so, consider evaluating yourself and your salesforce and click below.

Topics: effective sales leadership, change sales behavior, coaching salespeople, improve sales performance

Seven Tips for Simplified Selling

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 @ 14:10 PM


Have you ever gone to buy something, asked a salesperson for help, and left completely confused?   

Why is it that we (salespeople) make simple things so complicated?

I believe that in a desire to sound intellegent, cover all the bases, and educate our prospects, we often confuse, put-off, and alienate the very people we are trying to help.

In my post today, I discuss this problem, and offer some simple solutions:


If you are committed to improving sales productivity by recruiting salespeople who "Will Sell", click on the icon below for a free trial of our Sales Candidate Assessment.

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Topics: Consultative Selling, sales process, coaching salespeople, questioning and listening

How Sales Leaders Can Demonstrate True Vested Interest

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 12:10 PM


The Hawthorne Effect says that people behave differently depending on who is observing them in a study environment. If you apply this to manager/employee interaction, it's reasonable to conclude that employees who feel supported, understood and cared about are likely to have a greater level of productivity.

World-class sales organizations pay great attention to the quality of the salesperson / sales leader relationship. In my post today, I discuss what it means for a sales leader to be Truly Vested in their people.




If you want to learn more about your sales force, click on the link below. It will help - honestly!



Topics: sales management strategies, developing better sales teams, coaching salespeople, sales management core competencies, sales productivity

What are Your Salespeople Thinking When Management isn’t Looking?

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:12 AM

Coaching Salespeople, better coaching of sales people, changing outcomes of a sales call

Cost of Sales is a critical KPI, particularly when you operate on thin margins.  Influencing factors include attrition, training, travel, equipment, compensation, recruiting and administrative costs.  Some of these are generally fixed while others can vary widely.

If 100% of your salespeople consistently make their quota or budget at the desired margin, much of the concern about Cost of Sales would evaporate.

So why worry about it? I was speaking with an SVP of a brand-name company with thousands of salespeople.  He told me that most all of their sales teams have only a few (2-3) salespeople achieving quota while the rest consistently struggle.  Let's take a look at a typical sales team of 8 people.



$ Delivered














































35% Margin








Lost Margin




The net gap in margin, $210,000 in this example, replicated 6 times to account for the 5 similarly performing teams in the organization, has a direct impact of $1,260,000 on the Cost of Sales.  You don’t need to be a financial wiz to see that even a small drop in margin has a significant effect on profitability.

My experience is that when salespeople consistently do the things which they don’t want to do (healthy behaviors), good things happen.  Highly-effective people do the hardest and least desirable things first, assuring greater productivity.

In this light, the SVP’s comments illustrate both a huge problem and an amazing opportunity.  Yet most senior executives assume the 80/20 rule will be true, but simply leads to more unacceptable behaviors and outcomes.

Consider what would happen if your financial people were able to account for only 92% of your money or if operations shipped only 92% of your product.  It’s virtually certain that things would change quickly.

Let's put aside the impact on profit and look only at the salespeople.  Self-limiting thinking impacts everything.  For example:

  • I can’t help a prospect who's happy with their current supplier.
  • The economy is hurting our business.
  • It’s OK if I miss my quota as long as I come close.
  • I’m not an executive.
  • I wish that I didn’t have to deal with being rejected.
  • People are under pressure to buy the lowest priced products.

These thoughts influence bravery, execution, adherence to sales process, motivation, outlook and most importantly whether the salesperson can execute the call strategy.

What are your salespeople thinking when management isn’t looking?  Is sales management skilled enough to address this challenge?  What don’t you know about your sales force that’s costing you 8% or more of your margin dollars?  Are you accepting the 80/20 rule, the one which says that 80% of your sales organization is underperforming?


Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales personality, better coaching of sales people, coaching salespeople, lost sales analysis

Are Your Sales Leaders Great Coaches?

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 @ 09:04 AM


I followed a discussion on LinkedIn recently, which started with this statement:

Many business owners and leaders that I speak to believe that “sales training doesn’t work.” What do you think?

If you read the comments, you’d see a range of thoughts, including, “Sales training is a must.”, “They likely have the wrong trainers.”, “Not all salespeople are trainable.” and “It works only when senior management is bought in.”  All of these statements are true particularly if you include the context.  What I found upsetting is that there was little reference to sales leadership.

In my experience, the majority of CEO’s do not come from sales.  They generally have finance, operations, technical, scientific or marketing backgrounds.  Many lack a full appreciation of professional sales, the nature of salespeople or seeing sales as less structured than other parts of the business.  Given this, it’s not surprising that when hiring a sales leader, they choose people who desire autonomy and operate well independently.

Objective Management Group’s research shows that only 7% of sales leaders are truly effective at coaching salespeople.  While shocking, this finding is not surprising when you consider that most sales leaders fail to invest enough time in this critical function.  Autonomous sales leaders were autonomous salespeople first. They operated with little assistance and intervention.  Imagine how much more productive they would have been if they had sales leaders with great coaching skills.  Since only 7% of sales leaders are effective coaches and they work for CEO’s whose core competencies are not in sales, building a high-performing sales organization is almost impossible without sales leadership training and development.

Sales leaders should spend 80% of their time on accountability, coaching, motivating, mentoring and recruiting.  A significant majority fails to invest this much time. Their approach to coaching (and I’m not knocking sales leaders) is to tell salespeople what they should do instead of helping them to discover the right strategy themselves.  They also frequently close the deal for them.  How can anyone learn without making mistakes and learning from them?

Kurlan and Associates, Inc. is hosting a two-day Sales Leadership Intensive at the Boston Marriot Long Wharf in May.  This program will focus on practical strategies and skill development for sales leaders.  Additional Information can be found by clicking here.

Topics: changing salespeople, best sales leadership training, better sales outcomes, coaching salespeople

Does Your Salesforce Have Great Tonality?

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 @ 18:02 PM


The other night I answered the phone and was greeted by “Hi is Susan there?” I replied “Yes, who is calling?” the response was “Charlene”. This happened during what I’ll call “the telemarketing period”. 

Without thinking I walked downstairs handed the phone to my wife and told her Charlene was on the phone.

It turns out Susan knew Charlene but I didn’t know that I just felt like Charlene had the right to speak to her.

How did I form this opinion?

  1. She sounded totally sincere
  2. She sounded like Susan was expecting her call
  3. I had almost no information to disqualify her
  4. Her tonality was exceptional

Because Charlene felt like she had the right to call and expected to speak with Susan there was no formal introduction. Because she was relaxed and stress free her tonality was great. Because she didn’t give me much information I formed an opinion based on my sense that she knew Susan and had the right to speak to her.

Great character actors are trained to create a perception in the audience that they are the character. Your salespeople should take a page from my experience and character actors.

Do your salespeople sound sincere; like they have the right to speak to the person they are calling and project great tonality?

If your answer to these questions is “no” or “I’m not sure" you need evaluate their phone skills, determine what needs improvement and proactively help them work on it.

Topics: credibility, coaching salespeople, comfort zone, difference between good and bad salespeople

Sales Leadership 2.0

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 10:09 AM

Do you have the skills, desire, willingness and expertise to build an exceptional sales organization? 

  • Do your sales leaders thrive on growing and developing people?
  • Are they highly passionate about the team’s success?
  • Can they remove their egos and accept mini failures?

Great sales leaders understand their limitations, leverage their strengths, ask for help and find ways to implement other people’s ideas.

The most common concern I hear is inconsistent execution. There are many causes of this, not the least of which is, do you have the right people in the right roles? Other issues include metrics, inspection, urgency and management skills. How effective is your sales leadership as coach, mentor, motivator, recruiter and driver of accountability and what are you doing to improve your salespeople’s skills?

In almost every interview I conduct the candidate says, “I’m a consultative salesperson”. The problem is they can’t explain the “how” and most of the time they don’t demonstrate they have the skills. What is your value proposition, can your sales team articulate it, is there a selling process, do they follow it and how effective are they at differentiating themselves from the competition and creating high value relationships?

External influences impact our attitude, bravery and clarity. Salespeople react differently to this; some need close monitoring and others a kick in the back side. Sales leaders must know their people better than they know themselves. Are you a great role model for attitude, bravery and clarity? What causes you to loss focus and where do you go for help?

Topics: best sales management training, Expectations, coaching salespeople, Management Assessment

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