Two sides of the same coin

Sales coaches can develop the game plan and provide guidance and encouragement, but the team has to make the plays and sharpen their own skills and abilities

For centuries, tossing a coin has been a traditional way of choosing between two alternatives. In 1903 Wilbur Wright won a coin toss against his brother, Orville, making him the first person to fly their airplane. In more contemporary times, an American football game begins with a coin toss to determine which team is on offense first.

When you flip a coin, you call a side. But the law of probability tells us that it doesn’t really matter whether you call “heads” or “tails” because there’s an equal chance of it landing on either side. Not only that, both sides are equally important. After all, one can’t exist without the other.

In football, great coaches are nothing without their players, and even the best team will struggle without its leader. While each position—coach and player—has its own responsibilities, you can’t perform either role effectively until you know what those different responsibilities are and how they work together in the overall strategy of winning.

Successful Sales Coaching: It Takes Two

The same holds true for sales professionals and their coaches. They are two sides of the same coin, equally important and each relying on the other to do their part to get the job done.

Let’s take a closer look at both sides of a successful sales coaching relationship—the kind that will help players perform at their peak and reach their goals.

What Winning Sales Coaches Do

Just like in sports, a sales coach’s role is to bring out the best in people by first believing in them. A great coach reinforces the value they see in their salespeople, which in turn, increases their belief in themselves. Next, a leader must develop people and provide frequent feedback. The key to good feedback is recognizing that coaching is asking, not telling. Effective sales coaches know the questions to ask that will encourage team members to reflect on their performance and come up with ideas for growth and improvement—because those are the ones they will personally own and commit to. Sales leaders who consistently apply these coaching best practices can confidently watch from the sidelines as their team thrives.

How Successful Sales Professionals Get in the Game

The coach might develop the game plan, but the team has to make the plays. And while coaches provide guidance, players must sharpen their own skills and abilities to keep up with performance demands and competitive pressures. They also need to have a full understanding of their position. In sales, this not only means having a positive view of selling but also a solid grasp of the product or service they’re selling.

Sales coaches can provide information, but each salesperson is responsible for mastering it. The more they understand what it is they are selling, the stronger their belief will be in the value it brings. And the more positive their view of selling, the stronger their belief will be in the value they themselves bring to the game. And finally, it’s important for players to be prepared for any situation. Huddling with the coach in the moment increases the chance of scoring the next play, while preparing for those sales interactions that happen in the field increases the chance of closing.

The coin toss at the Super Bowl may be random, but a good coach never leaves a team member’s success to chance. Successful sales coaching is intentional and planned—and it requires both sides to take ownership of their responsibilities, in level support of each other.

About the Author
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Bruce Wedderburn

Chief Sales Officer

Since 2016 Bruce has led the Sales organization with a passion for creating impactful results for clients through the successful...
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