Best Practices in HR

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John Healy
  January 1, 1970

Tips for Mastering Call Coaching

Call coaching is literally THE hardest new skill for sales managers. Yes, it’s a new skill even if you’re not a new manager. Why? Because as a seller – hell, as a HUMAN – our job is to take action to get results. We are “me” focused and “results” focused. Coaching flips this on its head as we’re told to be “rep” focused and skill improvement vs. deal focused. Let’s be clear, you guys…




And the better you were as a seller, the harder it is as a manager. Great sellers are competitive, a little selfish and needy (c’mon, own that), and ruthlessly devoted to the “W.”

In fact, the very best skill-coaching (aka call coaching aka just coaching) is NOT focused on the deal. It’s about the rep’s development first and foremost. Focusing on the deal over the rep is where we get in trouble and make common coaching mistakes like, “The Laundry List” and “Be Like Me.” Why? Because we’re impatient to get the win, to save the deal, to bank the commission. Let me summarize in caps, as that makes me feel like I’m really driving the point:


If you can enter into the meeting 100% not caring if they win or lose the revenue and only if they feel better about themselves and are excited to improve, then you get it.

You’re also some sort of superhero because that’s basically impossible.

OF COURSE, you care about the “W”. You’re in sales!!

So, herein lies the rub, folks. This is exactly why The Sales Executive Council ranked call coaching as sales managers’ #1 worst skill. Because…


Over my years in sales leadership and training leadership, I’ve developed a lot of hacks to fix this situation. For example, I only use call recordings of past deals. This prevents my natural sales animal from emerging and ripping the headset off a sweet, well-meaning newbie and taking over the deal (and thereby completely deflating if not scaring my employee).

I also have a GREAT way to take notes during the call to help me vent my frustrations, but still appear supportive and encouraging to an underperformer (admit it, that’s hard).

There’s also a rule of thumb to NEVER break on what to coach, plus:

How many things to coach at once

How often to coach each rep

How to track it so improvement happens

How to make time to do more coaching

It’s a complex challenge we face in doing more and better coaching on the job. And going virtual didn’t help. Alas, it’s a worthy pursuit. Frankly, I feel a bit like the Captain Ahab of sales call coaching. I’ve evolved, improved, and added to my training solution pretty much every year for the past ten years. I keep searching for new and improved silver bullets to make the transition easier and faster. And we’re getting there, folks. We’ve created a comprehensive and effective program that changes behaviors and results.

I hope you’ll join me for our first ever public Call Coaching Boot Camp. Come as you are. The well-intentioned, the over-busy, the Debbie Downers, and the ultra-competitive. We see you. We are you. We GOT you.

Let’s all get better at this together.