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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Improving Sales Performance: Are You THAT Kind of Coach?

Are you THAT kind of coach

Professional athletes have coaches.

Oscar-winning actors have coaches.

Pop icons have coaches.

Wait!? Even people who have been in the business for a long time? Why do they need coaches?

That’s easy! Top performers, whether they are professional athletes, Oscar-winning actors, pop icons, or sales professionals, are not content with just being good. They strive to maintain their edge, stay on top, and climb even higher.  

Their coaches, with their unique vantage point, can see what they can’t see themselves, making their perspective incredibly valuable. This investment in their talent is what sets them apart and propels them forward.

The same can be said for your direct reports.

Coaching leads to excellence.

The Power of Intentional Coaching

Someone once said that great coaching and intentional practice aren’t about getting it right. They’re about getting to the point where you can’t get it wrong.

Mindy Pack does just that as she works with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Lil Nas X, Pharrel, Martina McBride, and Justin Timberlake. Each of these artists brings a different sound and style and has a very different level of experience in the music industry.

Mindy values each artist’s unique set of talents and believes her job as their coach is to help them recognize their strengths so they can fully execute their performances. For her, coaching is not about fixing problems but rather helping each individual find greater balance.

In her opinion (and mine), a coach is the best advocate a person can have on their growth journey.

What does that mean for you?

Situational Leadership: When to Coach, When to Manage

The Difference Between a Manager and Coach 

There is a difference between a manager and a coach, yet in your role, you probably play both.

Demanding goals, client issues, business pressures, and unexpected urgencies can easily grab your attention. It’s easy to drop what you are doing and manage them because you have no choice.

Coaching is different because it’s not done in response to a fire breaking out. It’s more like fire prevention. It’s the slow and steady, ever-present guiding force that grows a team.

As a manager, it’s crucial that you plan for coaching and make time for it to happen.

Here are a few things you can start doing right now to help.

1. Know What You’re Working With

Understand each direct report's unique strengths (and even weaknesses) and consider how you can help them use their strengths more often.

What behaviors are innate, and how can you help them fine-tune those natural behaviors to reach the level of excellence?

2. Observe Them in Action

In the same way that you can’t coach an athlete from the locker room, you can’t coach your people from behind your desk. Schedule time to watch them perform.

Take good notes and serve as their eyes and ears since you have a better vantage point.

3. Give Effective Feedback

Each of your direct reports will have a very different style, and that’s okay. Don’t waste your time trying to fine-tune stylistic differences that don’t impact their performance. Instead, pay attention to their behaviors and consider how you can help them grow.

After your observation, have a conversation that starts with, “What do you think you did really well?” Listen and then add a few more things that you saw that you found effective. If there is something they could do differently next time, let them know that, too.

Positive Feedback Examples (And a Few Negative Ones Too)

4. Show Them You Care

People want to feel valued and cared for – but how they want that to happen differs from person to person.

One person may appreciate you asking about their families, while another may not want to share. One may want to share a lunch or a cup of coffee with you, while another may want to use your time differently. Treat your people in the way they want to be treated.

5. Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Encourage a growth mindset within your team, where learning, feedback, and growth are valued. Create an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities for learning and experimentation is encouraged.

By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, you create a team that is not only motivated to excel but embraces challenges as stepping stones to success.

6. Be Present and Accessible

Coaching requires your active participation and engagement. Make yourself available for your direct reports, offering support and guidance when needed.

Be present in team meetings, one-on-one conversations, and day-to-day interactions. Show genuine interest in their progress and well-being. Your presence and availability as a coach can have a transformative impact on their growth and development.

Embracing the Coach's Mindset

Remember, great leaders are not just managers; they are coaches.

By adopting a coaching mindset and implementing these strategies, you can unlock the full potential of your direct reports, elevate their performance, and lead them to excellence.

Remember, talent exists everywhere, waiting to be discovered. Be the coach who spots it, shapes it, and turns it into an award-winning performance!

Coaching Sales Talent eBook

*Editor's Note: This blog has been updated since its original post date.

Topics: sales coaching