5 Characteristics of Great Skills Coaching

We all know that our employees are only as good as we set them up to be, only as knowledgeable as we put the effort into making them, and only as engaged with a company as we train them to be. Therefore, we also should probably know how important skills coaching is in order to hold on tight to those employees you worked so hard to recruit.

But one might ask…with so many other training methods in play, why add skills coaching into the mix? Good question…the answer is pretty simple. 

Because it works.

What Is Coaching in the Workplace?

Sales coaching is the process of developing and training sales reps through one-on-one relationships. Coaching for performance training builds trust and creates an environment that’s centered around constructive feedback that highlights what’s working and what can be improved. In the scheme of sales training and sales readiness, coaching lives between sales onboarding and sales training. While onboarding happens at the onset of a job or during periods of transition, sales coaching, like training, should be a continuous process.

By offering targeted and timely coaching, you can help underperforming employees pull out of a slump and become more productive. And by giving some attention to your top achievers, you can also drastically improve their performance and create benefits across your organization. 

What Does Good Coaching Look Like?


You know the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”? That’s actually the opposite of good
mentoring and coaching in the workplace. This is a lead by example playing field, folks. And, before your managers and leaders can start coaching employees for skill development, they need to be equipped with the right coaching skills themselves
The problem is, most managers don’t know how to get started. Here are 5 (out of probably 50) characteristics of a winning sales coach:

  1. They outline steps, tasks, and priorities that everyone agrees on. Everyone is a key word here.
  2. They create an environment for two-way conversations through active listening, which  empowers employees, to address skill gaps and improve performance. 
  3. They take time to teach, despite their busy schedules. After all, effective coaching skills don’t appear overnight.
  4. They get to know each sales rep and individualize their approach to each person on their team.
  5. They give feedback because they understand coaching skills training is important to growth and development. And, it’s not just negative feedback or criticism. The best coaches give out plenty of positive feedback, too.

How to Avoid Not-So-Good Coaching

We don’t like to dwell on the negatives, but unfortunately the type of coaching that takes place in most sales forces is wince-worthy. Sales managers’ best intentions are consistently overwhelmed by the never-ending onslaught of urgent problems and blazing fires. And we’re so darn passionate about the importance and effectiveness of skills coaching that it just might help to outline a handful of coaching no-no’s, like…

  1. A one-off conversation or meeting, something I like to call “The Sprint.” Sales managers have so much to do on any given day that their default mode is to try to cover as much as possible at record speed in every conversation they have. 
  2. A one-sided conversation, something I like to call “The Interrogation.” You know how this goes: All information flows in one direction—from the manager to the seller. Sales coaches, typically once sales reps themselves, bring a lot of experience, we’ll give them that, but when they meet with their sellers to discuss opportunities, accounts, and sales calls, they love to provide explicit direction on how the seller should behave. This is too explicit and doesn’t leave space for collaboration and dialogue.
  3. A checklist, or something I like to call “The Ambush”. Frequently, sales coaches provide a checklist without lending the support for reps to get through it. This surprise attack and lack of direction can jeopardize a sales process and effective communication coaching. As a result, sales messaging and communication may become inconsistent, and the customer experience will suffer. 

Enable Reps to Level-Up with Lessonly

Still trying to figure out where to start when it comes to taking coaching to the next level? Good news—we can help. Check out our newest ebook, Next-Level Coaching, to see how your team can win with personalized coaching at scale. Here’s a little teaser—great skills coaching drives 76% better business results. Take a look here.

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