High Growth Sales Leadership Embraces Coaching over Managing


While technology has done much to increase the speed and efficiency of prospecting activities in recent years, the basics of prospecting have not changed in decades:

  1. Analyze your territory
  2. Create an account plan
  3. Identify high probability targets
  4. Qualify prospects & set appointments
  5. Begin discovery

That cadence continues day after day, week after week until the good opportunities rise to the top and are converted to revenue.

However, in spite of the proven effectiveness of this simple formula, many sales reps seem to have lost their touch when it comes to prospecting. 

Any sales organization that wants to jump start the prospecting process will likely have to launch (what amounts to) a prospecting boot camp, in order to get everyone back into shape. And remember, you can’t have a boot camp without a drill instructor to coach the basics of prospecting.

In a high-growth, highly successful prospecting organization, the roll of the drill instructor is filled by the sales coach, who must design and implement an effective coaching strategy. 

However, because Sales Leaders have become burdened with a number of different responsibilities, they often resort to “managing” their team members. For example, giving orders and measuring performance, rather than coaching team members to help them develop the skills and confidence to succeed. To put a fine point on it, managers need to manage less and coach more if the team is to become a highly successful prospecting unit. 

The chart below helps spell out the difference between managing and coaching:

Manager Approach

Coach Approach

Answers questions when asked

Asks questions to help reps better understand options and strategies

Describes excellence to team

Models excellence by working with team members and mentoring achievement

Evaluates results and provides feedback

Observes behaviors and provides feedback

Provides coaching when necessary

Provides coaching as an ongoing priority

Coaches spontaneously

Follows structured coaching strategy

Gives team members actions steps to follow and then resumes other duties

Guides team members through steps as they implement action plan

Provides feedback during evaluation, and occasionally between evaluations

Provides timely consistent feedback during the daily flow of work

Treats obstacles with team members as the real issues

Probes issues with team members to discover the root cause behind the obstacles

Outlines challenges for team members

Guides and supports team members as they uncover their own challenges

Source: Salesforce


As the chart above indicates, sales managers who take the “manager” approach tend to be reactionary and unstructured in their coaching. They view it more as a task or a distraction rather than as a mission and an opportunity. They tend to reserve coaching conversations for scheduled evaluations or when it is necessary to fix a major problem. Not only is this not efficient, it is also not effective if the goal is to foster exceptional performance and growth within the team.


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With information provided by Salesforce