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12 Apr, 2009

Case Study in Sales Team Coaching

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coaching Articles

Case Study in Sales Team Coaching - Coaching Blog

Coaching constitutes a powerful replacement for traditional ‘tell and sell’ training strategies.

It took seven long days of preparation, writing material, rehearsing and working with my coach but finally I was ready to provide a sales training programme for a client.

In meetings with the company’s Managing Director, we scoped the goals and requirements – essentially to provide the sales team, a group of mixed experience and ability, with a foundation course in selling. I arrived at the client’s offices confident of success.

Day one started, as many of these events do, coffee mug in hand and building rapport. “Not a bad crowd,” I thought to myself, “this is going to be fun.” Halfway through the morning session, I realised that energy was low and engagement was minimal – something was not quite right. Almost on cue, one of the candidates said, “Meaning no disrespect; but I could do without being here.” Looking around the room, I noted a few minor changes to the body language of other participants, which indicated support for the comment. Expanding further, the person said they could not understand why they had to do this type of training again within 12 months. “Having just had time off this is the last thing I need,” was the final comment.

I had to do something but I wasn’t feeling great at that point! Thinking on my feet, I introduced a session, acting as coach and sales mentor, to discuss as a team where the morning content applied in their workplace. An energetic 45 minutes of discussion and exchange of ideas and experience involving everyone followed. Enthusiasm was up. I thought to myself, “Made it to lunch on day one – only one and a half more days to go.”

Over lunch, I spent time with a sympathetic looking member of the team to discuss the morning and express my surprise that they were repeating training. I asked what had worked about our morning session. With the colleague’s permission, I started the afternoon session by taking a bit of a risk.

I fed back to the group that I sensed a lack of engagement, asked about their previous training experience and asked them what had worked about the morning. They told me the last 45 minutes of the coached and mentored interactive learning grabbed them the most. It was obviously time to ‘ditch the script’.

I shared with the team the goals I was committed to deliver and my personal desire that they leave the course with a sense that their investment was worthwhile – in both cases honouring my personal values. I asked, “How can we ensure success for everyone?” I used the handouts to facilitate learning and discussion based on the challenges faced in the workplace. We discussed how the tools and techniques being delivered on the course could be applied in their personal lives. Energy and engagement soared.

Day two started with commitment; teamwork was evident, humour abounded and the team were seen to be coaching each other. I started asking questions. “If you knew you were the best salesperson in the world, what is happening in the business that is stopping you selling?” That prompted a brainstorm that produced a key issue. Placing the key issue within the team’s control produced a small project that, if successful, could deliver a 16% increase in turnover. Developing their sales forecast revealed a large gap in projections. Asking, “What have you forgotten about?” gave ideas to fill the gap.

There was a lot for me to learn from this event. The sales team wanted a learning experience that was relevant to their immediate experiences. It was possible to meet the criteria of the MD and the expectations of the candidates by engaging them in the learning opportunity by using my business background to add the skill of mentoring to the event. Combined with the power of coaching and the enjoyment of the learning experience for everyone it was possible to achieve my goal – delivering client success.

Ditching the script paid off. It felt uncomfortable, I took a risk, but change was needed.

A few days later, I received feedback from the client. One of the candidates had told the MD it was the best training course they had ever been on. Who provided the feedback? The candidate who had “better things to do.”

By Tim Wallis

2 Responses to "Case Study in Sales Team Coaching"

2 | Amanda Doyle

April 17th, 2009 at 10:27 am


Exellent! Congratulations!
I loved this as I am coming form a “sales trainer” background also. It gives me great hope and understanding of how benificial that can be!
Good luck, and thanks for sharing,


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