April 27th, 2017

Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Guiding Principles

Core Principles of Developmental Sales Coaching

The goal of developmental sales coaching is to create an environment where team members feel self-motivated to grow, excel, and take greater responsibility for what they do.

  • Ensure that the seller talks first, last, and most: Developmental sales coaching helps sellers move toward more self-motivated behavior because it meets our inherent psychological needs for:
    • Autonomy: Asking questions to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to improve performance gives team members a better sense of control versus telling them what to do.
    • Relatedness: Creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment to learn and grow builds trust and strengthens relationships.
    • Competence: Focusing on addressing performance needs helps seller to feel mastery over their work environment and increases their confidence.
  • Ask more than tell: The heart of the coaching conversation lies in the manager’s ability to engage in a collaborative process to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance through effective problem-solving. The benefits of coaching by asking are:
    • Shows respect for the team member
    • Opens conversations, which reveals more and better information for both the manager and seller to accurately diagnose needs
    • Gives the manager a chance to identify gaps in their own thinking before giving feedback
    • Shortens the coaching conversation by reducing defensiveness and getting to the underlying issue quickly
    • Increases seller ownership of and buy-in to the solution
    • Helps sellers become stronger problem solvers and more independent by using the process itself to self-coach
    • Gives the manager insight into the seller’s judgment, knowledge, and skill level
    • Gives the manager a chance to find common ground, which helps to manage potential conflict
    • Strengthens the relationship between manager and team member
  • Ensure the right issue gets solved. Diagnose before prescribing: Behind every performance gap lies an underlying root issue that is the true blocker to improved performance. Identifying and agreeing on the performance gap or opportunity is only the starting point. A manager must take the next step to identify the root issue that is preventing the desired behavior before identifying a solution. There is little value in taking action against the wrong problem.

The manager is in a great spot to initiate the shift to true coaching by changing the dynamic of how he works with his team members. Knowing the real barriers, helping managers make the needed shift in mindset and approach, and arming them with a proven process and skill set will release the power of coaching in your organization.

For more information on Richardson’s Developmental Sales Coaching Program, contact us at info@richardson.com or 215.940.9255.
Developmental sales coaching inspires sellers to excel

About The Author: Andrea R. Grodnitzky

As Richardson’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrea is responsible for demand generation and value creation through strategic marketing, brand awareness, digital optimization, product launch initiatives, and market-facing thought leadership to drive sustained, organic growth. With a passion for sales and customer-centric activity, Andrea and her team work to inspire customers across the engagement lifecycle and support them in their journey to market leadership by delivering fresh perspectives to their sales challenges.

Andrea R. Grodnitzky

3 Responses to “Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Guiding Principles”

  1. April 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm, Candice Jorgensen said:

    Liked the insight on seller talking first, last and most. Great reminder!


  2. April 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm, Mike said:

    Andrea, this is great guidance. As always, Richardson provides excellent advice on coaching effectiveness, and you are one of the best advocates and clearest voices.

    One of the barriers I see company leaders facing, even those who truly want their sales managers coaching (and we both know that many companies are in the “coaching prevention business,” as I call it), is that hard-driving, type-A managers often think this is fluffy, touchy-feely stuff. Part of the problem is that we don’t teach managers how to use analytics (or worse, don’t even have the right analytics) to determine where the behavior gaps lie, that will really move the needle, if closed – removing the hit and miss nature of sales call observations. Rather than saying, “Hey Bobbi, I want to ride-along with you next Tuesday,” managers can say, “Hey Bobbi, I want to schedule time with you when you are [doing XYZ, or meeting with buyers in Stage 3 moving toward Stage 4]. I’ve found that when I do that, the manager’s interest in and desire to coach skyrockets, because the targeted time coaching performance gaps has a far higher likelihood of producing results – an improvement in something [up-at-bats, revenue, win-rate, deal size, velocity, etc.].

    Are you guys seeing similar things? How does Richardson help address that, these days? That would make a cool post.


    • Andrea R. Grodnitzky

      May 01, 2017 at 10:26 am, Andrea Grodnitzky said:

      Hey Mike,
      Thank you for your feedback! I certainly agree with your points. A coach should have an informed view of performance gaps to isolate when and where to coach and analytics can be very helpful in that effort. One of most powerful examples is in using pipeline analytics and sales cycle data to identify overall performance gaps. From there – a skilled manager can target their coaching and then move from assessment of the gap to analysis of the root issue causing the problem in the dialogue with the seller. Coming out of the discussion, data and analytics are helpful once again to track trends across behavioral gaps of the team. In this way, analytics serve as a bookend of sorts to enable a more impactful coaching conversation.


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