When Coaching Salespeople Isn’t Coaching

There are many executives who spend time with their salespeople, either face to face or on the phone, and believe they are providing valuable coaching. It’s likely the time that sales managers and salespeople spend together is valuable however, let’s not assume that it’s really coaching that is taking place.

One of the professionals I coach enjoys providing me with the details of accounts, calls, pipeline and schedule. He wants me to know how much he has going on. I call this activity ‘off loading’. Some salespeople need to off load and want your input. But let’s not fool each other. This is not coaching. It’s more like horrible debriefing. It would be effective debriefing if you were asking the questions and your salesperson was answering them. But to spend time listening to the salesperson provide details that are important only to him is not effective coaching or debriefing.

So what should happen instead? While your salesperson needs to off load, it must be separate from the coaching that takes place. The coaching session qualifies as coaching only when you help the salesperson improve, grow, become stronger and more effective. It should culminate with a lesson learned, an epiphany, and some action to be taken by the salesperson.

Don’t allow valuable coaching time to be monopolized by off loading. If you’re going to coach someone, make sure that actual coaching takes place.