Coach with Employee

5 Best Practices and Actions for Sales Manager-Coaches

Virtual (and local) Sales Manager Coaching Playbook


Manager Skills Workshop: Effective Feedback Skills


Admittedly this blog targets coaching sales rep, however these coaching principles, processes and skills transfer to general manager-coaches. Swap out rep for employee and modify elements for your world.


Some enduring truisms are worth repeating. “You get what you pay for,” “You reap what you sow,” and…


Reps who receive just 3 hours of coaching per month exceed their goals by 7%, boosting revenue by 25% and increasing close rate by 70%.”  Corporate Executive Board


However, unrelenting day-to-day pressure on sales managers often bleeds time away from vital sales coaching and training efforts. Successful sales leaders who create effective coaching cultures have seemingly executed the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. Simply stated, driving sales by dedicated coaching efforts is a critical lead indicator for performance.

Reflection Question:

Name a single activity that will grow the long-term sales success of your organization more then a sustained and competent 1:1 and team sales coaching and development program?


“Every great performer has a great coach.” Anthony Iannarino


Playbook Skills and Best Practices

The tips below are sourced from currently successful sales leaders in a wide range of industries. Steal them, edit them for relevancy in your world, and make them your own!


#1. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” (Stephen Covey)

A growth mindset is critical. Sales coaching must be viewed as a long-term strategy, not a nice-to-have activity. Your competition may beat you on price, but they will never match your culture’s zealous drive for continuous learning and excellence. Hope is not a strategy. Your calendar is where hope is replaced with high-leverage priorities.

Your Playbook Actions

  • Schedule 3 coaching hours per sales rep, per month. That’s only 2% of your monthly workload! The spacing effect on learning instructs you to schedule 75 hours of coaching per rep, per week.
  • Elevate your coaching to the elite level. Download the free 4% Championship Sales Coaching and Training Plan.

Master Sales Coaching Tip: Establish two distinct 1:1’s

  1. Accountability one-on-one’s. Current results to goals, health of pipeline, market obstacles and opportunities, current strategy and tactics.
  2. Coaching one-on-one’s. 100% focused on developing the sales reps skills, knowledge and abilities to be successful in achieving sales goals.

The risk of merging these two conversations is that the well-intended sales manager can’t remove their Mr. or Mrs. Fix-It hat and the business review dominates the entire hour. The result? The rep can’t wait to get the meeting over and with five minutes to go the sales manager says, “We have a couple of minutes left, what’s on your mind?” All business, no development and no clear action plan for how the rep will achieve success.


“I believe that wherever there is mastery, coaching is occurring, and whenever coaching is done, mastery will be the outcome.” Andrea Lee


#2. Sales observations + metrics drives a focused coaching agenda

Think like an elite athletic coach who customizes each athlete’s training session based on measureable and observable performance results. Sales managers and reps report mixed benefits of the full day ride-along, often a company mandate. Sales leaders and their reps should collaborate to ensure these don’t become lackluster or a simple box to check. However, you can’t effectively coach what you don’t observe!

Example: A data-centric sales leader observes her sales rep hitting their outbound lead generation metrics, but these efforts are not leading to sales opportunities. Their coaching agenda goal might be to review the sales rep’s scripts and outbound communications to identify gaps, and thus, the rep’s targeted sales skill development focus area.

Your Playbook Actions

  • Prepare for one-on-one’s. Review rep’s current sales metrics and recent observables, and identify 1-2 development areas for focused coaching.
  • Implement your 0.75-hour, 1:1 sales coaching agenda. Play with the agenda. Keep it fresh, but ensure major focus is on the rep’s growth and success.


Master Sales Coaching Tip: Put the Pareto Principle into play – allow rep to speak 80% and you, the master coach, 20%. Be disciplined with asking great questions and deep, sincere listening.


“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing…That’s why we recommend it daily.”  Zig Ziglar


 #3. Inbound sales scenarios – overcoming the space-time coaching barrier

Many sales leaders say they wish they could spend more find time observing their reps in action. A rigorous development process to consider is inviting the sales action to your inbox or phone. Require your reps to send in a weekly vexing sales situation, an audio recording of a sales call, or a video of the rep presenting their value proposition.

Your Playbook Actions

  • Request that reps send you a weekly, current sales scenario or audio/video recording along with the skill or capability area they’ve identified to strengthen.
  • Review sales scenarios and craft your weekly 1:1 coaching agenda. This development process has powerful benefits:
    • Encourages a collaborative, two-way coaching partnership
    • Leverages your rep’s autonomy (a key source of employee engagement)
    • Loudly communicates that coaching, learning and development is a competitive, long-term strategy


#4. Sales leaders must coach each rep, but enlist peers to help train

Technically, coaching is not training. Training is requiring a rep to repeatedly practice (role play) a sales skill, such as handling various sales objections while the coach provides constant stimulus and feedback.

Providing dedicated coaching to ten or twelve reps easily stretches and stresses sales managers. Creating a peer-to-peer training culture leverages your resources. Giving your top performers training responsibilities is also an excellent way to provide leadership advancement opportunities.

Peer reviews of calls, scripts and outbound emails helps build a collaborative and fun learning environment while shifting co-ownership of sales training to the team. Not everyone will be thrilled, but harmony isn’t the objective, continuous learning and performance is.

Your Playbook Actions

  • Involve the team and establish training/mentoring buddies. Delegate this task! You are off-loading training to the team. Require team members to co-own development and have skin in the game.
  • Expect weekly (30-minute) mentoring sessions. These micro-training sessions are often part of the rep’s weekly SMART action plans. Inspect progress during your weekly one-on-one’s.


#5. Monthly team sales training sessions…A rising tide floats all boats

We acknowledge that most sales reps eat what they kill. To incentivize collaboration, many organizations weight individual compensation with team results. Either way, individual sales wins do not naturally scale, so how do teams and organizations leverage sales and marketplace insights and wins?  Sales leaders must leverage team IQ by creating a monthly collaborative and continuous improvement platform.

Your Playbook Actions

  • Set 45-minute monthly team collaboration and learning sessions.
  • Delegate that each team member assumes monthly leadership role by:
    • Surveying and collecting rep’s universal (ideally) or on-going sales challenges
    • Creating and sending out the learning agenda with a singular focused topic two days in advance
      • g. Skills and strategies for gaining access to C-Suite clients
    • Requesting that each rep comes prepared with a question and a success story related to a topic or a best practice for overcoming sales obstacles
    • Requesting that reps come prepared to role-play and receive feedback
      • The antidote for boring meetings? Keep them highly engaged, relevant, and hold everyone accountable for showing up!
    • Having the monthly team leader assume the lead facilitator role
      • The sales manager plays a supporting role (in other words…don’t talk too much)


A dedicated sales coaching program is a strategic investment, therefore it’s an opportunity cost. But can you measure the ROI (return on investment)?


In closing, I’ll let legendary CEO and extraordinary manager Andy Grove answer this honest question:

“Training is the manager’s job. Training is the highest leverage activity a manager can do to increase the output of an organization. If a manager spends 12 hours preparing training for 10 team members, it increases their output by 1% on average. The result is 200 hours of increased output from the 10 employees (each works about 2000 hours a year). Don’t leave training to outsiders. Do it yourself.”  Andy Grove, High-Output Management


Manager Skills Workshop: Effective Feedback Skills


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring. -Steve



Clear Expectations: A Key Manager Coaching Skill

Manage from clear expectations, not around personalities


Managers who possess unflinching clarity on performance and behavior expectations are skilled and assertive communicators who build high performing cultures. Why? Because trust, accountability and alignment infuse how work is done. Managing from expectations shines a bright light into the workplace, preventing complacency from creeping in.


The employee personalities, workplace dynamics and performance concerns outlined below offer mini-case studies for examination:

1. Sarah is a highly competent team member but is abrupt with her peers.
2. Jorge is a steady, dependable employee who likes to be left alone to “do his work.”
3. Pat is a positive, collaborative team player but performance outputs consistently hover around meeting expectations.


“It is no use saying ‘we are doing our best.’ You have to succeed in doing what is necessary.”Winston Churchill


In each of the employee scenarios there are reasonable expectations that an effective manager would insist upon. Think of these fundamental behaviors and values as your non-negotiables.

Sarah – civility, professional respect, courtesy, kindness

Jorge – cooperation, team orientation, collaboration, professionalism

Pat – results, outcomes, productivity


10-10-10 Coaching Engagement Agenda: A 1:1 Meeting Guide


Effectively managing from expectations requires two core supporting skills:

#1 – Conducting regular, substantive 1:1’s
• Actionable
• Clear, mutually-beneficial agenda
• Individualized around employee’s motivational drivers, goals or career aspirations

#2 – Delivering constructive feedback
• Caring and candid
• Acknowledges effort and contributions
• Identifies weaknesses or areas to strengthen


Sample manager 1:1 dialogue with Sarah

Sarah, you know I value your intellect and competency, and you consistently exceed most performance expectations. There is one critical expectation area that you fall short on and that is treating your colleagues with professional respect and courtesy. Your responses are curt and abrupt. In this morning’s meeting you gave a blunt “no” to Ryan and Monica. This makes you appear that you don’t value others contributions, shuts down valuable dialogue and falls short of my expectation of professionalism. What improved or constructive behaviors can you begin modeling with your colleagues starting today?


Most employees want to be their best at work. They value progress, professional growth and achieving significant goals and results. Managers who insist team members achieve high standards, and give them coaching support, foster loyalty in their teams. Managing from expectations is usually considered “tough love” but as the adage goes – nobody has ever been motivated by low expectations!


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring.  -Steve


Throwing Papers

3 Manager Skills for Bringing Order to Disorder

Effective managers don’t wait for top-down direction, they set it!


Schedule a Call with Steve Today to Discuss Tailor-Made Coaching Strategies


Many managers express their frustration about senior leadership communication – That it lacks clarity and congruency or is short on inspiration. If a manager reacts with passivity or paralysis, she is guaranteeing the delivery of a muddled message. After all, the seeds of team apathy and anxiety are fueled by ambiguity. Managers must proactively engage their teams with a constructive strategy.

Bringing order out of chaos is a manager’s #1 responsibility. A thought-out, action-oriented strategy (even an incomplete one) will always beat a foot-dragging, wait-and-see approach.


“Let chaos reign, then reign in chaos.” Andy Grove, former Intel CEO


3 Manager Skills and Mindsets for Reigning in Chaos


#1 Develop and upgrade your team’s capabilities. Effective managers leverage chaos to test and develop their team’s capabilities while channeling attention and focus. They take a sustained growth and development view but don’t allow disruption to rattle their team. Purposeful urgency is good, unbridled distress can be debilitating.

Manager Skill: Engage your team in rigorous thinking that stretches and grows members while demanding forward action, such as…

  • What do/don’t we know?
  • What’s in our control?
  • Who will do what by when and what’s our action plan?
  • What will we do to make sense of uncertainty?
  • How will we leverage our current capabilities?
  • What new knowledge and skills do we need to be successful in this environment?


Disciplined, thoughtful action is the antidote for chaos.


#2 Set provincial stretch goals for and with the team. Compelling stretch goals help focus the team’s attention, fosters a feeling of camaraderie, and maintains performance standards and high expectations. Low standards have never motivated anyone!

Manager Skill: Foster collective ownership and accountability by facilitating a collaborative goal-setting process. Motivation is strongly related to feelings of control. Heavy, top-down goal setting can worsen team anxiety and confidence. Striking a balance between quantitative (e.g. beat revenue goals by 15%) and qualitative (e.g. be #1 in growing and retaining customer loyalty) helps galvanize energy and channel focus.


In an unpredictable world, the effective manager knows that goal setting is a powerful process that can buffer the paralyzing effects of chaos.


#3 Be an optimistic, passionate and inspiring leader. Your team doesn’t need ‘rah-rah’ speeches or rose-colored predictions. They do, however, need a confident leader that can set direction, build positive team unity and hold others accountable.

Manager Skill: Communicate a collaborative “we” expectation. Express belief in the team’s ability to conquer adversity. Be passionate about the organization’s purpose. Tell stories of historical challenges that were overcome by strategic discipline, commitment, and unification.


Leadership is not a position. It’s a behavior. It’s the rare combination of driving results while engaging others in a vision worthy of inspiration.


Unclear direction from senior leadership rarely disables the competent manager. They embrace chaos, and employ skills and trusted processes to best manage the turmoil. The most critical ways to guarantee success include adapting a growth mindset, encouraging individual and team performance, and being a leader worth following.


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring! –Steve


Schedule a Call with Steve Today to Discuss Tailor-Made Coaching Strategies


Difficult Conversation

Managers, the Goal for Difficult Workplace Conversations is not Personal Comfort…

It’s action and commitment


Manager Skills Boot Camp II: Improve your Difficult Conversation skills and more!


“An object at rest remains at rest until acted upon by an outside force.”Newton’s First Law


Grant is a steady performer; an overall solid team player. Ellen, his supervisor, has given Grant feedback several times that his work lacks attention to detail and the quality is often marginal. Grant’s behavior has not changed, so it’s time to have a difficult conversation that gently provokes him at his edge.

Ellen’s untiring feedback attempts to get Grant to improve have failed. Ellen needs to amplify her expectations and become the outside force. Intensifying one’s tone while being prepared for the consequences naturally stokes levels of stress and anxiety, both for Ellen and Grant.

A critical challenge for Ellen is to appreciate that tension is a resource to gently increase and manage, not avoid. Why? Tension and struggle are the universal energy sources for human growth, change, and transformation. The chick embryo must work and struggle to break free of the eggshell to become a healthy chick.

Grant must experience constant, gentle pressure to understand it’s in his best interest to change. Tension, when harnessed appropriately, creates awareness. Ellen must develop a *safe learning container to leverage the tension in pursuit of Grant’s development. It’s a classic manager’s paradox.

*If managers have not created trusted working relationships with their direct reports, these conversations are often emotionally difficult with messy outcomes.


“The challenge for leaders is to disturb or disrupt the movement at the edge to provoke the desired outcome.” -Per Bak, author of How Nature Works


Two Outcomes of Turning Comfortable into Uncomfortable

#1 Ideal Outcome: Grant takes 100% responsibility for his sub-par performance and sincerely makes a commitment to change. Most managers report a mere 10-20% success rate with this highly desired outcome. When this level of spirited partnership is achieved, managers call that a great day at work!

On the other hand, being overly attached to this outcome is often driven by the manager’s need for comfort and control. In order for the outcome to be ideal, this need should be relinquished.

#2 Acceptable Outcome: Ellen is leveraging her personal relationship with Grant to persuade him that it’s in his best interest to change. She’s selling, he’s not buying. Now she must pivot from expecting an ideal outcome to an acceptable outcome.

Grant commits to taking concrete and specific actions, including changing his behavior, and understands the consequences if he does not do so. This uncomfortable condition is known as agree to disagree. Ellen must be okay with the fact that he doesn’t share her belief. Her goal is to demand expectations that serve the company, not for her or Grant’s comfort levels.


So What Now?

Monitor, Measure and Provide Feedback

Ellen’s previous feedback attempts were based on hoping Grant would change. The Situational Leadership Model instructs Ellen to apply a much more direct style until Grant has made observable behavior changes. Being more direct is not Ellen’s default leadership style, but that’s not important. Ellen’s primary objective is to help develop Grant’s full potential. This is Servant Leadership at its core – the sincere desire to help others be their best. This leadership style says easy, does uncomfortable.


Sometimes Acceptable is…Acceptable

Few management situations are more frustrating then having a difficult conversation, especially when the employee digs in and says, “I disagree with your assessment.” Managers must develop the emotional fortitude to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Tension is not a condition to be avoided, but instead, constructively managed towards an acceptable, not perfect, outcome.


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring! –Steve


Manager Skills Boot Camp II: Improve your Difficult Conversation skills and more!


Managing a Tone-Deaf Boss Can Feel Like Riding a Cow…

The cow doesn’t want to be ridden and the ride is rough


Watch the complimentary webinar: Difficult Workplace Conversations


Growing up next to a farm with a tribe of reckless boys, I had lots of painful and failed attempts at riding cows. If you’ve ever tried this, you’d know that it feels pretty similar to “managing up” a tone-deaf boss.


Like cows, tone-deaf bosses:

  • Don’t enjoy be ridden (e.g. “managed up”).
  • Ensure the ride is very uncomfortable and possibly risky for you
  • Purposefully attempt to rub you off the fence
  • Will throw you off (Falling off a cow is like falling out of favor with your boss: Bruising and dangerous for your career)

Inversely, in-tune bosses are on high alert for shifting workplace discord and proactively engage team members in sincere two-way dialogue. These bosses are engaged, hands-on, approachable, and biased toward democratic action.

Safety is your #1 goal while riding a cow. The same goes for managing up: The psychological and political perils are many and often hidden.


Cow-riding tips and parallels to managing a tone-deaf boss:

Rule #1 – Try to minimize surprising the cow. Cows, like bosses, possess a survivalist brain that easily spooks into fight or flight.

  • Boss Rule: Schedule regular 1:1’s with your boss. I recommend at least 20-30 minutes every week. Provide a clear agenda in advance that is solution-oriented, sensitive to tight budgets, and demonstrates your clarity around key priorities.

Rule #2 – Never attempt to change a cow. A cow has gotten to where it’s at by being a successful cow; bosses too. Nothing yields rigid thinking and outsized egos more than historical success.

  • Boss Rule: Show that your riding attempts will be a win-win. Point directly to the green pastures on the horizon. Your boss needs assurances that your obvious persuasion attempts consider her best interests.

Rule #3 – Cows are stubborn negotiators.  An armful of freshly cut hay usually provides leverage.

  • Boss Rule: Most bosses can be swayed by strategic solutions that support her objectives and the organization’s priorities. Complaining without a clear business plan promotes resistance to your ideas. Just like cows, bosses will simply ignore you, stare you down, or become agitated by your anemic advances.


A tone-deaf boss is a major source of frustration for many dedicated employees. There is no ‘grass is greener over the fence’ strategy, but take it from an experienced cow rider: There are trusted rules for what and what not to do.


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring! –Steve


Watch the complimentary webinar: Difficult Workplace Conversations


Great Managers Possess a Leadership Point of View and Act on it Daily!

4 General Leadership Points of View


Upcoming Workshops to Develop your Leadership Capabilities


“So in my first hundred days [as Ford CEO], we have developed a point of view of the future of the company: Smart vehicles in a smart world.” -Jim Hackett, CEO, Ford


Are your people clearly motivated and aligned with your point of view? Do you enroll them in co-creating ownership of the vision? Do team members see a clear line-of-site between their work and performance outcomes?

Effective managers, like great CEOs, know that having a clear point of view is critical for galvanizing peoples’ energies, aligning around expectations and delivering targeted results. A clear point of view coupled with visible daily supporting behaviors is inspiring leadership that fosters strong team loyalty.

Below are Four General Leadership Points of View to stimulate personal reflection, help clarify your values, and motivate you to craft a philosophy that will inspire your team:

#1 We will act our ways into new ways thinking, not think our ways into new ways of acting. Encouraging a strong bias for forward action and continuous improvement is the best insurance policy against workplace complacency and stagnation. Everyone is expected to bring forth ideas for improving products, services, and operational efficiencies.

#2 Grow people first, who in turn grow the business. Effective managers are great teachers, coaches and mentors. Their #1 priority should be the future health of the business, not career advancement. They focus their efforts on building tomorrow’s leadership talent pipeline.

#3 Clear expectations and a feedback-rich environment create a high-performance culture. Exceptional managers believe that most employees truly want to give their best, contribute to the team, and achieve visible results. Work is a daily hard-played game and team members want to know if they’re winning. Goal clarity, lots of recognition, and frequent two-way feedback is a trusted recipe for a high-performance culture.

#4 Create an environment where people feel safe speaking up, contribute fresh perspectives, and proactively report problems. The evidence is clear (and tragic): Authoritative, rigid, top-down leadership has been identified as a root cause of space shuttle disasters, failed dam levies, and commercial airline crashes. When team members fear potential retribution for speaking up, problems stay hidden.


“As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow.” -Himanshu Bhatia, CEO, Rose International


Revitalize your management focus by clarifying your leadership point of view. Take the Four General Leadership Points of View to adapt, edit, and craft your own. Or, of course, create your own philosophy, share with your team, and enroll them in a rich two-way conversation to gain their input and support.

Most importantly, commit to a few repeatable tactics each day to drive your vision deep into the culture. Good things will happen!


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring! –Steve


Upcoming Workshops to Develop your Leadership Capabilities

5 Key Performance Dimensions to Mitigate Manager Frenzy

FREE webinar: Identifying and Promoting the Right People


“Management by drive, like management by ‘bellows and meat ax,’ is a sure sign of confusion. It is an admission of incompetence. It is a sign that management does not know how to plan.” -Peter Drucker


Many managers are heads down, hard chargers all day long. Their relentless pace can exhaust their team and often causes widespread confusion. As the leadership proverb goes: Do not confuse frenetic activity with progress. There can be an addictive rush in being the hero manager; the feeling of being important and needed (who else could do this job as good as me?). Letting go of the need to control is imperative to organizational health.


These 5 Key Performance Dimensions (cascading in importance) offer a steady leadership path out of the frenzy

KPD 1 – Over-communicate the WHY vision. Clarity is the antidote to uncertainty, a common root cause of workplace anxiety. Managers who master communication foster meaning and purpose, a key dimension for attracting and retaining top talent.

KPD 2 – Be tough on performance expectations, gentle on people. The only employees who like wishy-washy managers are slackers. High performers are repelled by cultures where everyone wins a trophy. Be kind and caring, but let people fire themselves.

KPD 3 – Coach and develop. Make people better each day. These 2 tools support, stretch, and ensure accountability: 1) Regular 1:1’s, and 2) Delegating. Building the organization’s leadership pipeline ought to be every manager’s legacy.

KPD 4 – Build a safe and collaborative culture. Fostering psychological safety is a prerequisite for team performance, according to Amy Edmonson, author of Teaming. Great teams will always outperform a culture of individual stars in the long run.

KPD 5 – Recognize achievement and have fun. Workplace stress continues to be a top complaint for most employees. Chronic stress, as we know, is literally a killer. Create regular rituals of renewal that will benefit the company in the long run.


“Discern the vital few from the trivial many.” -Greg McKeown


Think of implementing the above 5 dimensions as utilizing the 80/20 rule. Allocating your time to a few vital areas (20%) assures the busy manager that her focus yields outsized (80%) results. Executing these high-leverage activities helps managers regain a sense of healthy control while providing team members increased clarity and direction – a win-win!


Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep it inspiring.–Steve


FREE webinar: Identifying and Promoting the Right People

~Facilitate High-impact 1:1’s in 2018~

3 Performance Outputs and 4 Guidelines


Download the 4-Step Coaching Process and Skills Plan


Note: This is a two-part blog post meeting series. This post strongly advocates and will focus on the power of 1:1’s. The next post will give attention to the architecture for team meetings; both standing and ad hoc.


“A meeting is nothing less than the medium through which managerial work is performed.” -Andy Grove, High Output Management


Workplace meetings have a bad rap. Why shouldn’t they? Busy managers often run meetings on default or fire fighting mode.

Many team members perceive meetings as a “waste of time.” However, high business output can be accomplished by combining the structure of 1:1’s with intention. This creates a powerful communication medium.

The common sentiment – “1:1’s are unnecessary, I work along-side my people all day and they know I have an open door policy” is a common and noble management behavior. However, a crucial dimension is missing: The failure to prioritize the development, engagement and working relationship with each team member.

Here’s an analogy: One can work side by side with their spouse every day raising kids…but if you fail to regularly connect with your spouse, what’s the quality of that relationship?

In work lingo it’s called, “high task, low relationship.” Lots of important stuff gets done but the quality of the relationship quietly, and often dangerously, erodes.


“You don’t build a business. You build people who in turn build the business.” –Zig Ziglar


1:1’s drive three vital performance outputs

  1. Builds the working partnership with the manager and her direct reports
  2. Grows the unique capabilities of each team member so they operate at their peak performance, which in turn
  3. Helps ensure the organization achieves its performance targets

Four guidelines for facilitating 1:1’s in 2018

Guideline 1 – Schedule regularly. Shoot for every two to four weeks. Avoid more frequent meetings because individuals might feel micro-managed. The exception is the chronic under-performer, where a direct style of management is required. Don’t wait more than a month or the coaching relationship will lose momentum and engagement.

Guideline 2 – Mostly stay on individual’s agenda, not yours. This is about optics. The effective manager-coach prioritizes the team member’s growth, concerns, and ideas. Focus on developing the necessary capabilities that will support their success in achieving business metrics, not the other way around.

Guideline 3 – Ask great questions and be highly collaborative. Nothing builds trust faster than asking useful, sincere questions and listening deeply to team member’s career aspirations, motivational drivers, concerns, and ideas for continuous improvement.

Guideline 4 – Have a strong bias for action and accountability. Every 1:1 should be book-ended by commitments and action plans. The high output manager-coach always asks, “Who is doing what, by when, and how will we measure progress and success?”

Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep it inspiring.–Steve

~The Sales Leader’s 2018 “5 Steps & Actions” Playbook~

Sales Leader-Coaches: Make Training Your Competitive Advantage in 2018


Download the 4% Championship Sales Coaching and Training Plan


Regular, disciplined training is considered critical to quality performance in most professions, but is often lacking in many sales organizations. Why?

Airline pilots, athletes, surgeons, counselors, coast guard captains and numerous other professionals train regularly to receive and maintain industry certification and competence…but in sales? Zip.

One could argue, unlike an airline pilot, a mediocre sales performer does not put others lives of at risk. While this is technically true, consider that:

  1. Sales are the life-blood of a company. If the market rapidly grows in needs, then sales professionals who allow their skills to stagnate put the financial health of the organization in jeopardy. In fact, sales professionals who fail to adapt and grow put livelihoods at risk.
  2. Complex sales are very hard. Striving to influence another human’s beliefs, behaviors, and decision-making is arguably harder than catching a football.


“To be successful in sales today, you must sell beyond your natural ability.”  –The Science of Selling, D. Hoffeld


The Sales Leader’s 2018 “5 Steps & Actions” Training Playbook

Action 1- Inspire and Motivate your sales team with your Big Vision. It might sound like… “We will be #1 in our region in 2018. We will accomplish this if we collaboratively train and grow our skills, knowledge and mindsets every day to our highest potential. Pros train, rookies wing it. If we are sales pros, we will train like sales pros.”

Action 2 – The 3 E’s: Enroll, Empower, and Expect the sales team to co-own the plan. Effective sales leaders create the formal structure, but expect the team to own the organic process.

Example: Manager sets mandatory team skill building meetings every Monday 8:00-8:45. Team members decide who teaches what skill or subject matter on which date. If the meetings are perceived as ineffective, they are responsible.

Action 3 – Inspect what you Expect. Build a culture of accountability by holding each sales member to his or her development commitments. No one is exempt. The training vision mantra is: “We can and will be better.”

Action 4 – Celebrate Successes and Recognize Top Performance. Create peer-to-peer awards to foster strong collaboration and esprit de corp. Recognize top performers on a weekly basis along with individuals who are applying new sales capabilities with great effort.

Action 5 – Strengthen and Develop your Coaching Skills. “Managing to the numbers” is not coaching and neither is telling sales professionals what to do. The effective sales coach has regular 1:1’s, is highly collaborative, and customizes their approach to each unique sales member. They are not a one-size-fits-all coach.


“The investment in training will pay off in the long term. People can’t deliver on what they don’t know how to do. You have to upgrade capabilities.” –J. Kouzes and B. Posner, Leavey School of Business


Total organization sales revenue depends on each sales individual performing at their highest level. Regular and focused training is the not-so-secret strategy of all elite coaches and performers. Be great in 2018 by executing the above 5 Steps & Actions Training Playbook!


Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep it inspiring.


Effective Manager-Coaches Drive Performance by Asking Questions

Build Trust and Leadership Credibility


Read the Asking Great Coaching Questions Guide


A manager’s primary role is to achieve sustained organizational performance through the collective contributions of others.  Each individual, therefore, must be continually growing their knowledge, skills and mind-sets, and be contributing at consistently high levels. In other words, today’s manager-coach is in the human behavior change business and asking great questions is an established coaching tool to facilitate individual change. Why?


“Questions prompt the brain to contemplate a behavior, which research shows enhances the probability that it will be acted upon.” -David Hoffeld, Author of The Science of Selling


A primary goal of coaching, like sales, is to ask penetrating questions that influence or persuade the individual to consider changing their behavior. Put simply, using this coaching tool helps others think through and analyze their current situation, which can facilitate a change in behavior to achieve a more desired future state.

Great managers know that asking useful (versus superficial), penetrating questions helps achieve two critical outcomes:

  • Builds trust with team members because you show you care about others thoughts, values, goals, and aspirations
  • Builds leadership credibility because you are providing real value


“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” –Peter Drucker


If you’re a manager and you aren’t consistently asking powerful, engaging questions then chances are your team members are not growing and developing. According to Forbes, using this management tool is the core to developing a Growth Mindset.

It’s an accepted truism that a company is only as strong as its weakest employee. Ultimately, then, your organization is only as strong as your weakest manager-coach. A manager who is a dedicated and disciplined coach attracts, engages, and retains top talent while putting up wins on the performance score board. And, her primary engagement tool is asking great questions!


For examples of great questions, click the link at the beginning of the article.  For tailored training programs to enhance your coaching skills, contact me.


Keep it simple, keep it focused, and definitely keep it inspiring.