If you are in charge of managing a sales team to reach sales goals, you must ask yourself this critical question: “How effective am I in this role?”

A sales coach helps his people mentally by arming them with the skills, knowledge and strategies to help them be successful. A good coach also motivates sales people by coaching to their individual hopes and dreams by holding them accountable, by helping them recover from the no’s and by helping them reset after a lost sale.

#1 Sales Coaching Skill: Effectively Debriefs Sales Calls

An effective and proactive coach is in a constant state of debriefing sales people. Whether they are engaged in a phone campaign, returning from an initial appointment with a new client, presenting a solution to a committee or renewing a current relationship, a coach must constantly have real time knowledge about how the sales people are performing.

As an effective sale coach, you should schedule regular debriefing times into each week. You might have debriefing time slots every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 pm. From week to week, you may not know exactly what you will be debriefing, but you will have the time scheduled, in advance, to do this activity, thus making it routine and easy to accommodate your sales staff.

The essence of the debriefing process should not focus on the numbers. Instead, the debrief should focus on performance— how the sales call and process were executed. During these sessions, you must ask great questions so that you find out how the call went— what happened, how things happened and why they happened. This process of asking questions creates dialogue between you and the sales person, maintaining focus on the most critical aspects of selling. Questions about the prospect’s compelling reasons to take action, their budget and willingness to invest, their ability to make a change from a current provider and their particular decision-making process are all subjects that you should ask about.

Based on the salesperson’s responses and your notes taken during these regular debriefs, you will begin to develop insight as to where the individual’s “choke points” are. For instance, if a sales person fails to get commitment for investment of time, money or resources, he or she may have a money weakness and this pattern will repeat itself. Look for insights about those items that interfere with the sales person’s ability to move the sales process forward. Correct the identified choke points and develop him/her for future success.

During the debrief, listen and digest what you are hearing. Pause and reflect before providing feedback. Be nurturing and preface comments with something like: “Now maybe I didn’t get the entire picture, but based on what I thought I heard, there seems to be a choke point here. Let me ask you a couple of questions so that we can figure out what happened and what we need to do to fix this.”

Stay clinically detached during these sessions. Be patient and “other” focused. Do not get frustrated or act in a disapproving-parent mode. If you are perceived as “attacking”, the sales person will shut down and will not be open to future coaching discussions. Wrong way— “Why do you continue to…?” Right way—“Help me understand what it is that seems to keep you from asking your prospect for this information.”

About the author

Tony Cole

Tony has a lifelong focus on helping people and organizations achieve their personal best.As…

Online Courses

Learn anywhere, any time, on any device.


Learn Online

Self-paced courses from the
world's top sales experts

Virtual Training

Live, interactive instruction in small
groups with master trainers


One-to-one personalized coaching
focused on your unique situation