Sales management coaching – start with receptivity


Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching

Sales coaching can make a difference and it should be a priority. In fact, pros agree that sales coaching is a critical piece of the puzzle in developing a world-class sales team.

Yet, when it comes to giving coaching feedback – most managers don’t do it enough, many times it is water off a duck’s back, and sometimes it makes matters worse.

There are many reasons why giving feedback often fails to make a difference.  Some relate to the mind-set and attitude of the sales rep receiving the coaching while others pertain to how the feedback is provided.

Let’s look at the salesperson being coached first.  One of the underlying reasons why feedback often doesn’t work, stems from the fact that most people struggle when  self-assessing their strengths and weaknesses.  What most people end up doing is seeking out evidence that confirms their positive opinions about themselves and ignore contrary evidence. When this happens, many salespeople hold onto a positive self-assessment even after their sales manager has shared contradictory feedback. So, receptivity is an issue.

A part of the receptivity issue also relates to the content of the feedback.  Another, and equally important part, is how the feedback is provided.  A partial answer for the latter part is giving more attention to the details of the language used – specifically the pronouns.

If receptivity is to be improved, it is important to distinguish between situations where sales managers are providing feedback about things they do positively vs. a negative behavior or action.  The positive part is usually a non-problem.  On the other hand, the negative part can be much more difficult to handle effectively.  So, let’s compare two different approaches for handling feedback about a negative.

  • Approach 1. “Lee, in the call yesterday the way you handle the objections didn’t go very well – that is something you need to work on.”
  • Approach 2. “Lee, in the call yesterday I couldn’t track the way you handle the objections – that is something we need to work on.

When comparing the two approaches, the key is which question is likely to create greater receptivity? We would suggest the sec on approach does a better job because it conveys the notion that the sales manager and sales rep are in this coaching effort together.

Now, if a sales manager provides a sales rep with feedback only once every two months or so, than this subtlety of language will probably not make a difference.  But for sales reps who provide more frequent sales coaching feedback – words matters – they can influence receptivity.

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©2015  Sales Momentum, LLC

About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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