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Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Guiding Principles

The goal of developmental sales coaching is to create an environment where team members feel self-motivated to grow, excel, and take greater responsibility for what they do.

These are the guiding principles of developmental sales coaching:

  • Ensure that the seller talks first, last, and most: Developmental sales coaching helps sellers move toward more self-motivated behavior because it meets our inherent psychological needs for:
    • Autonomy: Asking questions to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to improve performance gives team members a better sense of control versus telling them what to do.
    • Relatedness: Creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment to learn and grow builds trust and strengthens relationships.
    • Competence: Focusing on addressing performance needs helps seller to feel mastery over their work environment and increases their confidence.
  • Ask more than tell: The heart of the coaching conversation lies in the manager’s ability to engage in a collaborative process to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance through effective problem-solving. The benefits of coaching by asking are:
    • Shows respect for the team member
    • Opens conversations, which reveals more and better information for both the manager and seller to accurately diagnose needs
    • Gives the manager a chance to identify gaps in their own thinking before giving feedback
    • Shortens the coaching conversation by reducing defensiveness and getting to the underlying issue quickly
    • Increases seller ownership of and buy-in to the solution
    • Helps sellers become stronger problem solvers and more independent by using the process itself to self-coach
    • Gives the manager insight into the seller’s judgment, knowledge, and skill level
    • Gives the manager a chance to find common ground, which helps to manage potential conflict
    • Strengthens the relationship between manager and team member
  • Ensure the right issue gets solved. Diagnose before prescribing: Behind every performance gap lies an underlying root issue that is the true blocker to improved performance. Identifying and agreeing on the performance gap or opportunity is only the starting point. A manager must take the next step to identify the root issue that is preventing the desired behavior before identifying a solution. There is little value in taking action against the wrong problem.

The manager is in a great spot to initiate the shift to true coaching by changing the dynamic of how he works with his team members. Knowing the real barriers, helping managers make the needed shift in mindset and approach, and arming them with a proven process and skill set will release the power of coaching in your organization.

About the Author

As Richardson’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrea is responsible for demand generation and value creation through strategic marketing, brand awareness, digital optimization, product launch initiatives, and market-facing thought leadership to drive sustained, organic growth. With a passion for sales and customer-centric activity, Andrea and her team work to inspire customers across the engagement lifecycle and support them in their journey to market leadership by delivering fresh perspectives to their sales challenges.

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