Improve Your Sales Coaching Results: Avoid These 7 Mistakes

You think you’re coaching. However, you may be preventing your sales reps from developing their skills. If you really want to coach your sales team to greatness, stop doing these seven things.

No matter how much office time you devote to sales coaching in the office, it cannot replace the insight you gain into their selling skills by observing them on a sales call. Sales managers who fail to prepare or don’t know what to do on a ride-along, however, can sabotage your sales teams’ success.

Ask yourself if you’ve done some of the things listed below. If so, don’t worry. Make some incremental changes and your sales coaching will start to get better.

1. Saving the deal.
Watching your sales rep lose a sale is painful. Allowing them to lose a sale in your presence – very painful. No doubt, saving the deal feels good and reinforces you’re “I still got it” vibe. And it’s so easy to justify—your company needs the revenue. Painful as it is, unless your stated purpose is to be the “big gun” and close the deal, avoid the temptation to step in. If not, you create a never-ending cycle of dependence because your sales rep won’t learn to complete sales on their own.

2. Failing to define roles.
Determine who is doing what before the appointment. The rep leads and you observe. You lead and your rep observes. Your rep makes the presentation and you handle the close. Ultimately, you want to simply observe your sales rep in action in order to intelligently coach them to improve performance.

3. Not training your rep.
Sales coaching comes after sales training. The moments prior to a sales call can be useful for practice or review. But don’t tell your rep anything new that you haven’t trained or coached them on previously. At best, they won’t remember; at worst, you’ll confuse them and they’ll fall apart during the sales call. If you haven’t adequately prepared your rep for the call, it’s too late now.

4. Hyper-focusing on quota.
Whether you know it or not, your presence on the call is already making your rep nervous. Don’t add to that by making comments about their quota riding on this deal, even if you’re “only kidding.” They want to do well so don’t add pressure even if you’re getting it from your boss. Keep your comments focused on activity and execution – not quota.

5. Reacting to mistakes.
Your rep will probably make some mistakes. They’re not perfect. You’re sure to embarrass your rep and perhaps embarrass your customer if you react emotionally in the moment or call them out on a simple oversight. When (not if) your rep makes a reasonable mistake, make a note of it and deal with it later.

6. Relying on memory.
During the sales call, document what your rep does. Keeping a record of the elements of sales call (intro, questions, qualifying, presentation, etc.) enables you to go back and coach to the call – either later that day or in a week or two. You won’t remember everything, so make notes for reference, especially if you and the rep disagree during your coaching session.

7. Coaching them on every detail.
The last thing your rep wants to hear from you after the call is a long list of everything they could have done better. Be patient. Select one or two of the bigger issues that you want them to work on and speak to those—you can address the others at another time.

Joining your rep for a ride-along requires both your and your rep’s time in preparation, execution, and debriefing afterward. That’s a significant investment for you and your organization, so don’t treat it lightly. Avoid these seven common sales coaching errors, and the next time you accompany a sales rep on a call, you’ll be ready to extract maximum value from the ride-along experience.