Questions That Will Make You a Better Sales Coach

Nothing matches a sales coach for improving the performance of a sales team, especially if you get down in the trenches and offer one-on-one advice on improvement. Understanding your team members—their strengths, their weaknesses, their preferences, and who they appeal to—allows you to reforge each member into the team into their best self. But to get there, you need to be asking questions of yourself, your team members, their superiors, and the hard data. Here are five questions to make you a superior sales coach:

1. Do you understand your students? Whether you’re working with a team or an individual, a sales coach needs to truly understand their students—it’s not enough to offer generic advice which may or may not apply to the specifics of a given sales agents’ situation. Knowing the methods your students use, how they interact with one another and share duties, the technology they use, how they perceive their skill at various sales tasks, these are all crucial to making the most of yourself as a sales coach.

Good advice may always be good advice, but don’t settle—you need to know your students, so you can offer the best possible tips for improvement.

2. Do you have your students’ trust? If your students can’t respect you as a seller, they’re not going to respect your advice as a sales coach. Quickly establishing yourself as worth listening to is crucial, as you can quite quickly become perceived not as a source of wisdom but as an annoyance, background noise interfering with the work day. Consider taking your time before stepping in and making an active move; look at figures, reports, observe call logs, and make sure that from the moment you start talking, you’re saying things worth hearing.

3. What does the data say? Never forget the hard data when you’re coaching students. Self-reported difficulties and strengths matter, but sometimes the best thing a coach can offer is a reality check. Learn to parse metrics and figures and see the truth behind them; it’s one thing to see low metrics here, high numbers there, it’s quite another to see a pattern and understand what’s really going on with a student’s or team’s performance.

4. Where are the disconnects? This is an important one. Ask your self this, after speaking with your students, speaking with their superiors and coworkers, looking at the hard data: What disconnects exist between each of these points? Why do they exist—does the agent you’re coaching perceive themselves as better or worse at a particular skill than they truly are? When you see these gaps between reality and perception, there’s an opportunity to improve your student.

5. What goals are we aiming for? It’s important to set goals in sales, so make sure you, your students, and even their superiors all have the same understanding of your goals as a coach. What are your priorities? Do you need to improve customer retention by helping your students enhance their long game and follow up? Do you need them to spend time more efficiently, by parsing lead quality and focusing on better prospects? Make sure everyone is on the same page, establish firm metrics for recording progress, and use each step towards that goals as a morale booster.

Final Thoughts

Being a sales coach means thinking about the big picture and the little picture at the same time. A problem at the top level can be caused by a single employee having trouble closing sales with a certain demographic—and unless you look close, you’d never know it.

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