Inside Sales Call Coaching: How to Speak ‘Coach’

How do the best sales coaches speak? With questions!

The best coaches don’t ever tell. They ask. By using the right questions, a sales manager can help a rep to self-discover big breakthroughs. And, this is the most effective way for a rep to take ownership of their activity and results. 

Here is a 3-step process to know which questions to ask reps during coaching sessions:

Sales Call Coaching Quick Tip: Learn to Speak ‘Coach’

Divide a blank page of notes into two columns. In the left column, while listening to a sales rep on a call, make a laundry list of everything you wish you could tell the rep. Don’t show it to him.

This is the “list of suck,” my friends. Every time you cringe, take notes on the left. 

During call downtime, pick your top three potential focus areas and use the right column to translate these into questions.

For example:

  • “OMG he went RIGHT through the Gatekeeper. Painful.”  

Becomes:

  • “Hey, can you tell me your strategy with the gatekeeper?” or “Hey, what made you decide to skip over getting information from the gatekeeper?” 

This gives the rep an opportunity to analyze the call themselves and then self-identify what skills may need improvement. 

Tip: Ask questions that are specific and helpful. Asking, “How do you think that went?” is too broad for the rep to pinpoint areas for improvement. And asking, “Don’t you agree that you should have asked about an alternate contact and his direct dial information?” is not helpful either.

The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle of these two. While you’re practicing, try writing three questions for each target area. One is broad and high-level, one is extremely specific, and the third is your Goldilocks. 

How to Know the Right Questions to Ask:

If you get to the end of the call with a laundry list miles long, it’s decision time. How to narrow it down? One of the best ways to know where to coach is to let the rep pinpoint what they want to work on.

Let the rep choose anything as long as it’s on your list (even if it isn’t in the top three!). If your rep decides what to work on, your chances of it actually getting focus are more than double than if YOU pick the improvement area. I know. It’s really hard to let go of this. But trust me, your rep engagement will skyrocket if you’re coaching in areas they want to improve in.

Where to Focus Your Critiques

If you have a tricky rep who isn’t able to self-identify areas of improvement, you can help them identify it using this criteria:

  • What would most likely advance or lose the deal
  • What impacted the customer’s impression of us
  • What had the biggest effect on the call achieving its goal

But please, promise me one thing …

Your rep’s TONE is probably not something that impacts any of the above. If the only thing left to coach a rep on is the tone of their voice, this rep clearly doesn’t need coaching! 

Pat them on the back and tell him he’s an all-star! Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how many managers choose to talk about tone. It’s their secret code for “I clearly have no idea how to help you.”

Ask Questions, Get Results

Now that you know how to speak coach, what will you ask your reps today?

PS — Don’t miss this post for even more tips on Inside Sales Call Coaching.