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Coaching Sales Teams and the Link Between Expectations, Beliefs and Performance

The truth is, all of us need coaches. Most people will not work, learn and extend themselves, by themselves, to the extent that they will with the help of a coach who sets high expectations for them.

Think about it. In the world of sports, no successful coach ever says to the players, “Okay, you go out and learn whatever you can and practice whatever you want to, and be sure to show up for game day.” The coach knows players aren’t going to push themselves enough to develop the level of conditioning, confidence and skill it takes to win. It’s why coaches exist.

Most people actually set lower standards for themselves than they’re capable of achieving. It’s human nature. But it’s not just their own lowered expectations they’re living down to. Across the board, in numerous organizations, people are producing almost exactly what managers or leaders expect them to produce.

People fall into ruts and habits. They gravitate to levels of productivity that they think their manager will accept. Soon enough, those levels become fixed beliefs. And those beliefs manifest in the work that they do. The managers’ expectations about what the person can accomplish then become fixed, creating a reinforcing loop of mediocrity. We call it the Law of Limited Performance.

This is why it’s so critical that sales managers are not only consistently and effectively coaching their teams but that they expect and believe their people can continually achieve more. Of all the factors that influence someone’s productivity, expectations and beliefs—their own as well as their manager’s—rank at the top of the list.

Sales Coaching Tips to Raise Expectations and Beliefs

Regularly scheduled coaching sessions can improve the performance of almost anyone. Here are a few coaching tips to help sales managers set the stage for a productive session and ensure their beliefs influence the person in a positive way:

  • Review previous coaching sessions. Get a feel for where the person is, what their strengths are and what areas you want them to improve.
  • Write down a few questions that will encourage them to think and discover what you want them to learn. This way, they’ll “own” their development and be more invested in the outcome.
  • Listen more than you talk. People rarely learn and improve their performance just by hearing you tell them what to do. They need to discover it for themselves and internalize it. Make it a point to spend twenty percent of the time asking appropriate questions and eighty percent being quiet and listening to what they have to say.
  • Visualize the person performing on the level you want them on. This will help reinforce your own belief that they can achieve it.

When sales coaching sessions are positive and when the manager sells the person on their belief in their ability, the impact will be that much stronger. Because the manager’s attitudes directly affect the success of the coaching, it’s important to recognize that in coaching teams the following three factors heavily influence a person’s productivity:

  1. The degree that you, the manager, sincerely believe that they can achieve higher performance.
  2. The degree that they believe you believe that.
  3. The degree of trust, mutual respect and rapport between you and them.

When these three factors are present, people of all performance levels will develop faster and increase their productivity.

How much growth potential do your managers see in their employees? Consider the potential productivity and bottom-line results the organization could be missing out on if they don’t learn to expect more from each of their team members—and truly believe they can achieve it.

This blog was adapted from a chapter of The People Principle: A Revolutionary Redefinition of Leadership by Integrity Solutions’ founder Ron Willingham.

About the Author
Mike Esterday
Mike Fisher

Master Facilitator

Mike Fisher began his 30 year career in sales as a college student, selling books door-to-door in the summers. He...
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