“All coaching is is taking the player somewhere he can’t take himself.” — Bill McCartney, former head coach, University of Colorado Boulder

If you look at great coaches from professional sports, they are not teaching their athletes how to play; they are observing their athletes, providing a perspective on ways to improve, motivating them and inspiring them to win, and helping them get unstuck. Players can review every play in practice and games, identify issues, and make basic corrections on their own. This frees up coaches to focus on identifying and improving the more impactful skills that separate their athletes from the competition. The only time a coach addresses a basic issue is when the professional athlete is having trouble correcting things on their own.

Until recently, sellers and sales managers didn’t have enough visibility into buyer interactions to coach. Coaching opportunities were rare, so managers tried to make the most of each opportunity by coaching on everything they noticed. In addition, sellers didn’t have the visibility needed to identify and correct issues on their own and so required the coaches’ time. Nowadays, revenue orchestration platforms automatically capture interactions, providing the seller and manager with the visibility necessary to identify coaching moments. Unfortunately, many managers still have a legacy mindset, leading them to focus on everything over the more advanced skills that enable each seller to be their best selves. Sales managers need to coach their sellers like athletes by doing three things:

  • Empower sellers to coach themselves. The new visibility that revenue orchestration platforms provide benefits the seller directly. No one knows how to correct basic issues better than the person who needs to improve. Sales managers who create a culture of self-coaching will empower sellers to improve themselves while also creating the capacity needed for managers to help sellers hone more advanced skills.
  • Implement a “trust but verify” approach. Basic skills are important and cannot be ignored, but delaying coaching on them allows time for the seller to correct any issues on their own. Managers should set thresholds regarding when to intervene based on seller improvement progress. These thresholds give sellers the opportunity to identify and fix issues on their own first. If they struggle to do so, the defined escalation threshold signals to managers that they need to intervene to help the seller. Giving sellers a chance to fail, identify the issue, and make a correction helps them learn how to coach themselves while also ensuring that sellers who need help get the support they need.
  • Use visibility to unlock each unique seller’s potential. The first two bullets above will improve the basics and free up managers to focus on what it takes to unlock each seller’s individual potential. Use new features, such as conversation intelligence, to create triggers that identify the skills that a coach can help bring out of a seller. Once the sellers have adopted a skill, move it to the basic skills category, put a threshold on it, and move on to the next coaching opportunity. Progressing in this fashion will continuously raise the performance level of each seller and the overall team.

The best coaches can get the most out of each individual. Effective sales managers hold sellers accountable for getting the basics right on their own, freeing the manager up to focus on identifying and enhancing the unique skills that can maximize the potential of each individual seller.