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Coaching and the Importance of Constructive Sales Feedback

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Oct 13, 2023

The Coaching Competency is the most critical part of a sales manager's responsibilities; it is also the most difficult skill set to learn and master. There are many aspects that make up an effective coach including coaching consistency, asking enough questions, the ability to stay in the moment while coaching, having a passion and supportive beliefs for coaching, not rescuing salespeople and being effective at getting commitments from salespeople. Of course, all of these point to the importance of constructive sales feedback while coaching. Not all coaching is helpful and constructive.

What is Constructive Sales Feedback?

There are many opportunities in the day of a sales coach to provide sales feedback so what makes it constructive?  Constructive sales feedback should include:

  • Asking enough questions
  • Listening to understand
  • Drilling down on answers
  • Discovering your salesperson’s motivation
  • Getting commitment on next steps
  • Having them practice their skills for development
  • Refining and improving strategies
  • Demonstrating effective skills in qualifying, presenting and closing
  • Helping your salespeople improve skills, not just close the deal at hand

The importance of constructive sales feedback involves helping salespeople self-discover what they are doing wrong or should be doing differently. Strong sales leaders will ask questions versus tell a salesperson what to do.  In coaching sales behaviors, how you say something can be more important than what you say. Instead of saying “You should have asked your prospect about their current provider”, you could ask “What did you find out about their current provider?”  Asking questions will allow salespeople to self-discover, which is a key result of constructive sales feedback.

When Should Managers Provide Constructive Sales Feedback?

According to Objective Management Group, our sales evaluation partner and pioneer in the industry, many sales managers believe that coaching means helping salespeople with pricing and technical questions on an ad hoc basis. Strong and effective sales coaches, however, schedule multiple coaching conversations with their salespeople each week to provide constructive sales feedback, improve their skills and help them win more deals. It is important that sales managers set aside specific time for intentional coaching, not just coaching to a specific deal or proposal. Sales managers should put time on the calendar weekly for 1 on 1 coaching with salespeople that can be used to prepare for an upcoming call or debrief after a recent sales call.

There are many opportunities for a sales coach to provide constructive and important feedback to their team:

Screenshot 2023-10-13 at 12.01.48 PM

Why doesn’t coaching occur as often as it should? One of the most difficult skills for most sales managers to overcome is their need for approval from their salespeople. Coaching is different than managing and requires clear direction, discussion, examples and demonstration of what is expected of a salesperson. This can be hard for a manager, who also wants their team to like them. They may not want to come off as critical. The importance of providing constructive feedback and coaching sales behaviors is a critical part of the development of a sales manager. A strong sales leader and coach must be adept at asking great questions, listening closely and staying focused on developing salespeople to be their best. Their primary focus is developing their salespeople and achieving goals through the efforts and success of others.


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Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, effective sales coaching program, constructive sales feedback

Effective Coaching with Sales Performance Metrics

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Oct 06, 2023

Sales organizations typically have plenty of sales data due to the growth and usage of CRM systems, critical to capturing the activities that are occurring with the sales team. But effective coaching with sales performance data often becomes the greater challenge with sales managers and leaders. In our coaching platform, we offer several tools to help in this area and one of the most effective, easy to understand and utilize is sales data insight that comes from regular Sales Huddles.

Huddles Help Coaches Focus on Critical Sales Performance Metrics

Huddles as defined by Verne Harnish, founder and President of Gazelles, are:

  1. A communication process or system that allows for sharing of real-time information
  2. An opportunity to focus on "burning platform" issues for a team or company
  3. A way to bring sharp focus and attention to a critical business driver
  4. The most important 15 minutes in any company meeting

Each company should determine the most important few sales activity data to capture in their huddle regularly each week or month such as contacts, appointments, proposals, COIs etc. If a sales manager does not schedule a regular and timely means to monitor what is going on in the field, in real-time, they cannot coach or adjust the play or get in front of any client issues or trends. Huddles provide real-time information so that sales managers can make real-time decisions and provide real-time feedback or coaching. This is vastly different than waiting for month or quarter end reporting on results because huddles capture what is happening now, this week. The sales performance metrics that are captured in Huddles can then be used to coach salespeople to impact current deals.

Coaching with Sales Data Insights from Where’s Walter

We suggest a technique that we have labeled as “Where’s Walter” pictured and explained below.

Screenshot 2023-10-06 at 11.24.35 AM

Coaching a salesperson’s activities can be simplified into two areas: their effort vs. their execution. Effort is described as evaluating if they are doing whatever it takes in the area of outreach and working hard to attain their goals. Execution evaluates their effectiveness in the sales process.  Are they doing the right things to take a prospect through an effective sales process or do they have a problem?

Using Where’s Walter for Sales Data Insight

As a coaching approach, we recommend sales leaders place their people into one of the four boxes noted above and then have these conversations below with the salespeople in each quadrant. These are guidelines of course but should be adjusted. One word of caution, do not soften too much. Coaching is hard work and leaders must be tough and direct at times to identify real areas of concern and development.

Execution Results & Effort
“ Bob, thank you for the results you are generating. You must be thrilled as this will help you achieve your personal goals and objectives. Just as important though, I also want to thank you for your consistent effort. You may not realize this, but others on the team look to you and follow your lead.  The way that you execute on sales skills “week in and week out” sets a great example for the rest of the team. Thank you. Now, Bob, what else can I do for you?”

Execution Results but Lacks Effort
“Bob, I want to thank you for the results you are generating. You must be thrilled as this will help you achieve the personal goals and objectives you have for your family. I am worried about one thing though; can we talk about that? Bob, how long is our sales cycle?  (120 days). Okay, so based on that and looking at our success formula, then the results you are getting today are a result of what? (The activity I did a while back) That’s what I was thinking and that is why I am concerned. Based on the activity here (show them the data), you are headed for a slump. Is that where you want to be?”

Effort is There but Poor Execution Results
“Bob, obviously based on the numbers you see here, you are not on schedule to achieve the extraordinary year to which you had committed to manage yourself. But this is where I’m confused.  The data I have- that tells me about your effort- indicates that you should be at or above your goals, but that isn’t the case. My experience tells me that it can only be because of one of two things: either the data you are entering is not accurate or you are failing to execute properly. Which one so you think it is?”

Lack of Effort and Results
“Bob, I have to tell you that I cannot figure this out.  Your effort and results are a total surprise to me. If several months ago, someone said to me that you would be failing, I would have said ‘no way.’ (Show Bob the job posting you used for the position he is in and his resume then show him his current sales activity and results.) Bob, I take a look at this (job info) and I think – ‘This is what I hired.’ I look at this (the results) and I’m thinking ‘This is what I got.’ Bob, did I make a mistake?”

Using the Where’s Walter platform gives sales coaches a framework to use performance metrics from Huddles to generate conversations, identify areas for salespeople to focus on and most importantly, gain insights for immediate coaching to improve skills, performance and results.

Need Help?  Check Out Our Sales Growth  Coaching Program for Managers!



Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, effective sales coaching program, Sales Performance Metrics

Effective Sales Coaching: The Game of Selling

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 22, 2023

Years ago, one of the lead execs from our client KeyBank shared an article called, “What it takes to be a Coach”. It began with: You must understand the game.

Many leaders do not understand that the ‘game’ is the game of selling.  Managers and internal trainers must really understand the game of selling.  It takes strapping a headset on, making hundreds of dials, asking for introductions, getting rejected, selling big cases and starting with small sales, to really understand the game.  Otherwise, it is like taking flying lessons from a pilot trainer that did all their flight learning in a simulator.

Most sales managers end up in that role because they were good to great salespeople and the company was looking to:

  1. Replace a manager
  2. Find a way for professional advancement
  3. Look for a way to keep a salesperson that is slowing down and has a ‘book’ of business

Rarely if ever does that person go through an intense, fully integrated sales management training development program to help them effectively execute the required skills of an effective coach. Nor do they have a good handle on “what” to do; the sales coaching best practices. The 7 critical coaching competencies from Objective Management Group, our sales evaluation partner and pioneer in the industry, are listed below. How effective are your sales leaders at executing these activities?

Screenshot 2023-09-22 at 2.48.22 PM

Peter Jensen is an Olympic coach from Canada and author of the book “The Third Factor”. Peter states that first two factors for success in anything are nature and nurture. The Third Factor, specific to coaching, is: You must have a coaching bias.

A strong sales leader must have the coaching bias and they must love to coach the game of selling.  They must have a love for seeing and hearing people develop into the best versions of themselves.  That is what it takes to be successful at coaching.  It must be about helping others gain the spotlight, success and financial rewards or a job well done.  It requires sacrificing ego and the need to be right for the other person to discover their path, develop their skills and become the expert.

The challenge for most sales managers or sales leaders is to have the ability to exhibit and execute these skills of being a strong leader:  Strong identity, self-assurance, credible authority, knowledge and a foundational vision, mission and goal orientation.  Strong leaders do not need to be in the spotlight, do not act like they know it all and ask questions instead of always providing answers. These are the important sales coaching best practices that drive effective sales coaching.

There are assessments in the marketplace to help people identify if they have what it takes.  We use Objective Management Group’s Sales Manager Insights Evaluation.  Three key findings are identified and scored:

  1. The Will to Manage
  2. The Sales Manager Sales DNA
  3. The Sales Manager Tactical Competencies

The evaluation provides an index percentage that tells the evaluated sales manager how they rank against others who have taken the evaluation.  Our 30+ history has verified that most sales managers have less than 10% of the skills needed to be an effective sales coach.

In summary, most companies with a manager level in their organization fail to get their salespeople to perform for one of the following reasons:

  • The manager doesn’t have what it takes- the skills to be effective at sales coaching
  • The manager doesn’t take the time or doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle the job, maintain a book of business, take care of operations and anything else that might be in the job description
  • There isn’t a consistent ‘Sales Managed Environment’ to execute to so day in and day out, it’s an inconsistent coaching process.

Do your sales leaders understand the game of selling and have the coaching bias that can make them and effective coach?

Need Help?  Check Out Our Sales Growth  Coaching Program for Managers!



Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, effective sales coaching program

The Importance of Understanding Your Customer’s Decision-Making Process

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Sep 14, 2023

The buyer’s journey has been a critical topic of discussion for salespeople and marketers for a decade now. We have come to recognize how essential it is to understand how a prospect recognizes that they have a problem, how they go about searching for a solution and how they evaluate those solutions to make a resource choice and a decision.

The importance of that step, the customer’s decision-making process, may just be the most important step in the buyer’s journey. Salespeople can gain a great deal of information from CRMs and lead nurturing data and best practices from industry research systems like Relpro and IBISWorld, however, these will not give them insights into a prospect’s specific decision-making process. There are nuances in every company as to how they approach an important purchase and elite salespeople are skilled at asking great questions in order to uncover those in their qualifying discussions.

Questions to Ask About Your Customer’s Decision-Making Process

One lead (or prospect) lead nurturing best practice is to just be direct, ask the question. We coach salespeople in the commitment step of the sales process to simply as them “When you’ve made a decision like this in the past, what was your process?” Simple enough but the prospect may give a surface answer, making it seem much simpler than it is of course. Of course, you must have already uncovered that you are working with the decision maker but rarely in a substantial purchase, is there just one making the decision. They may be the ultimate decision maker but the decision impacts others that they will want to gain input from. Skilled salespeople help the prospect think through this by drilling down from their surface answer and will ask further questions such as:

  • “Will that be the same process you follow this time?” and
  • “How long does that normally take?” and
  • “Who will this change impact in the organization?”
  • “Who all needs to fall in love with this solution to gain approval?” and
  • “Can I go with you to present to the committee?”
  • “How will you tell your current provider?”

The bottom line, it may not matter how much your direct contact likes the solution you have recommended, if the customer’s decision-making process is unknown, you are at risk of losing the deal. Those important questions need to be asked and salespeople who master these close more sales.

From the coach’s perspective, one of the findings from our partners at Objective Management Group is; Managers who are effective at helping their salespeople get prospects to commit to a decision have 40% more top performers than managers who are ineffective at coaching on decision making.

Why is this so predictive of success for coaching? If managers are helping their team to regularly uncover the decision-making process and gain commitment, then they’re probably coaching on several supporting skills also. Getting a prospect to agree to a decision means the salesperson has uncovered a compelling reason for them to buy, they have thoroughly qualified the opportunity, and presented a need and cost appropriate solution at the right time. This takes active listening, many insightful and challenging questions, and the ability to pushback appropriately on potential stall tactics.

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Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, effective sales coaching program

The Importance of Feedback in Sales

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Sep 08, 2023

Graduating from college, I went right into a high-pressure sales job selling newspaper advertising for The Dallas Times Herald in the burgeoning Dallas, Texas marketplace. It was a hustle out there as we competed with The Dallas Morning News who had a greater share of the subscriber and ad revenue markets. At that time in the 80s, Dallas had small businesses and strip centers popping up every day and I would literally case my territory at least every other day so that I could be the first in the door, when a store opened. Because if I was not and the ad showed up in The Dallas Morning News, here is what happened…

8 am daily paper check with our entire sales team and manager and each region did it at the same time, every day. Paper check meant, our boss opened the competitive papers and asked us about any businesses advertising in our territory that we did not have running in our paper. This was of course, in front of the whole team. So, my first lesson on the importance of feedback in sales was frequency and consistency matter. I knew that I had to be ON IT or look like a weak link on our team. The second lesson about the importance of feedback was transparency. We all went under the same daily scrutiny and although this was painful at times, it also brought us together as a team. It was competitive, it was fun and we rooted each other on. This feedback process also allowed us to share some best practices and teach the newbies so that they knew what was coming and how to get better.

Adaptability in sales is essential and that is another lesson I learned at The Dallas Times Herald. During my 6 years there, my territory was split 4 times so I gave up strip centers and advertisers to my co-workers and had to go deeper into my current client base, selling them more or finding new ones in a smaller territory. I was blessed with a North Dallas area and was able to adapt and continue to outsell my complacent Dallas Morning News opponent.

My boss, a wonderful guy named Eddie, was a master at understanding the importance of feedback and would always find a time to point out the wins, the great sales, the creative approaches and he was famous for slipping us producers a $50 here and there as a bonus. Which of course, we went out and blew that night at the Elan, dancing and drinking a few cocktails. I grew to love feedback, as all salespeople should, but of course, the quality of it matters. Coaches should be direct, fair, instructive and consistent in their feedback to make it work its magic. Not everyone is as lucky as I was to have an accomplished and encouraging coach.

The coach is so important when it comes down to it. I would certainly not have been as motivated or as skilled or as inspired to canvas my territory, stay out late and build ads until 8 pm at night without Eddie. So how do coaches become better?  Here is one great resource from our partners Objective Management Group: The Ultimate Sales Coaching Guide with another downloadable below.


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Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips, identifying sales coaching needs, effective sales coaching program


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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