Do I Have A Coaching Culture?

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Last week, I got an email from an old friend and colleague. Together we launched the inside sales team in EMEA for SAP, and we’ve stayed in touch and had a few beers when I’m overseas – you know the drill. 

He emailed and asked, “How will I know when I have a true coaching culture?”

Love this question. Wish more leaders would ask it! Well, I instantly started forming a little “Cosmo quiz” in my head. Take it for me and let me know how you scored – even better, see if you can add a question!

If you’re not making the top half, click here to get a replay of my recent webinar with the Sales Management Association. 

Do I have a Coaching Culture? 
  1. I see managers prioritizing coaching sessions over other tasks and meetings
  2. I see reps asking for more coaching
  3. Managers can recite skills trends, like what newbies struggle with most 
  4. Training opportunities are offered abundantly at all levels
  5. I see new strategies being implemented smoothly and quickly (e.g. we all need to do XYZ on calls)
  6. We have libraries of different kinds of recorded calls available
  7. Reps feel comfortable having a third person in the room/call observing coaching 
  8. Everyone shares the same understanding of what “good” looks like on calls 
  9. Leaders regularly talk about coaching, rep development, and manager skills 
  10. Managers coach after the call, not during

(you know I’m making this up, right?)

  • Yes = add 2 points 
  • Sometimes = add 1 point
  • Heck no = subtract 2 points

20 Points: Seriously impressive. If you don’t already have conversational intelligence tools like Chorus, Gong, or ExecVision, your team is worth the investment! You may even be ready to integrate sales skill and coaching scores into balanced scorecards, rep and manager reward & compensation. Chances are, you have more than 55% of your floor hitting quota. Advertise your coaching culture in job postings and keep nurturing it with your leaders and managers. 

12-19 Points: You, my friend, are middle of the pack. Chances are you come up average in floor quota attainment (about 55%), have some managers who are great at it, and plenty of reps who resist it. You may have great intent but be lacking in execution. There’s never really a coaching emergency, is there? Watch the webinar recording and pay special attention to strategy and process tips.

5-11 Points: In a sea of struggle, I’m sorry to say you’re rock bottom. I’m willing to bet there are more issues than coaching with the culture and you’re struggling with high turnover and “whack a mole” management. When we struggle to make the number, a focus on development never tops the priority list. Keep the resume updated, because it will be harder and harder to keep and attract talent.

So what IS a coaching culture? It’s hard to define, isn’t it?

Culture is how an organization feels when you visit it or are a part of it. It’s the company’s personality, right? I think culture is made up of pace (Factor 8 = super fast), formality (super informal), focus (results), attitude (an underdog with confidence) and language choice (you can probably guess, we’re not afraid of the F word at Factor 8).

Most leaders think culture is shaped by company values. To those leaders, I share the quote by Grunter and Whitaker:

“The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.” 

Think of your top rep, your worst manager, the lazy guy in the next department. They show what is acceptable – it’s the bottom of the grading curve that shows where the curve really is. This is impactful.

Yes, the top of the curve matters too! But I can cite too many examples of top performers bending rules or operating in ethical gray areas. Can you? Is that tolerated where you are? Encouraged? Maybe even accidentally celebrated?

The thing about a coaching culture is that it implies all the feel-good areas of human performance, not necessarily hard numbers. To me, a coaching culture implies:

  1. A focus on skill development (is training provided?)
  2. Improvement over perfection (is failure celebrated?)
  3. An openness to give and receive feedback (does this happen at all levels?)
  4. A prioritization of people and their career development (are career paths defined?)

Implementing a conversational intelligence tool does not a culture create. In fact, I’ve seen it make cultures worse. Leaders used technology meant to aid development for compliance over coaching and “caught” reps who didn’t say required phrases. Ouch.

Right now, this is more important than ever. The generations we’re hiring have three top priorities:

  1. Opportunities for development
  2. Opportunities for advancement
  3. Access to leadership

Coaching helps check all three of these boxes, and if your team’s boxes aren’t being checked there are plenty of revenue jobs available right now. Attract and keep great talent with a coaching culture.

Want more tips on creating a coaching culture?

Fill out the form below to watch the recording from
our recent session on“Creating a Coaching Culture”

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