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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Why is My Perfect Puppy Peeing on the Floor? And How to Coach the Sales Rookie

Sales CoachingIs your Rookie seller screwing up? We recently added a new puppy to our family, and when deciding which puppy to get we followed all the right selection steps. We carefully considered the most important characteristics and traits to us, and found the perfect puppy for our family. She doesn’t shed, she is the right size, and personality wise she is fitting right in… so why is my perfect puppy peeing on the floor?

Because no matter how perfect she is, she is still a puppy.

The same goes for rookie or newbie sellers...

No matter how talented a rookie seller is, she is still a rookie.

Have you ever hired someone extremely talented who completely lacked experience in your industry? You gave them a chance because you saw their raw potential yet you still ended up disappointed or frustrated by their lack of experience? As a sales manager, it’s your job to make sure this doesn’t happen. So, what can you do to keep that from happening?

Remember: Talent is not enough – you need a specific plan in place for coaching your rookie salesperson IN THE FIELD.

The most effective way to get your rookie up to speed is to get in the field with her and coach her in the moment. Really take the time to see her in action and practice with her. Sales managers (i.e. coaches) do their best work (coaching AND developing sellers) in the field, not in the office. Field coaching is VERY different from classroom education and orientations. Field coaching is a one-on-one activity. It is also a learn-by-doing, learn-by-trying, learn-by-screwing-up type of education. It has to be a TOP PRIORITY.


Field coaching allows you to:

  • Give positive recognition which is timely, specific, and knowledgeable
  • Give sales coaching in the context of specific real-life needs
  • Provide feedback on actual performance and observations, not vague generalities or hearsay
  • Build productive, activating relationships
  • Set expectations and establish goals for improvement

You selected for talent – and that is where you start. Field coaching is about training and it needs to be consistently done. Much like tending to a puppy, you need to give consistent teaching, training, and nurturing if you want your rookie to be successful and flourish.

I firmly believe I selected the perfect puppy for our family, but I am still investing a tremendous amount of time training her. The way I do that is by consistently being with her in the field. Or in this case, a lot of the magic happens in the front lawn. I am showing her, teaching her, correcting her, setting expectations and creating trust. 

You have a rookie on your hands. No matter how talented she is, she is going to mess up. She is going to be confused, scared, overwhelmed, and over excited. You are her shining light and guide. You are her road map to success.

**This is post 2 of 3 in a "What I Learned About Sales From My Puppy" series. Stay tuned for the final installment about the importance of praise, feedback, and recognition in sales coaching. 

To learn more about hiring an all-star salesperson -- whether they're experienced or a rookie -- check out our 10 Ways to Recruit Your Next Great Salesperson eBook. 


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Topics: Sales