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4 min read

Coaching Through Conversation

Mar 19, 2020 6:42:40 PM

A sales manager should manage both the “day to day” and coach up the best performances from their team. Finding the right opportunity for coaching can be difficult, however, sales meeting debriefs can be an effective place to start. A sales meeting debrief is when the manager and sales rep discuss what went well, what did not, and what could be improved.

Often, managers debrief sales meetings by telling the reps what they did well, poorly, what they missed, and what to do next time. Many managers miss the moment to coach their reps. A great sales manager coaches through asking questions instead of telling them what to do. If you can get the rep to come to the conclusion on their own, using their own words, it creates buy-in and ownership, because it was their idea… not the manager’s!

Conversations that include more telling than coaching may be met by a defensive sales rep. If they don’t agree with you, they will argue with you or potentially shut down while you’re talking to them. Allow the awareness and acknowledgment to come from the sales rep by setting them up to answer your questions and self-diagnose.

How to Conduct a Sales Meeting Debrief:

  1. Schedule time to debrief sales meetings. Don’t discuss them in passing!

  2. Ask questions about their sales meeting rather than telling them what you think was right or wrong. Ask them how they feel the meeting went. What did they do well? What wasn’t successful? What can they do to improve the sales conversation next time? These are the opening questions, continue to ask follow up questions to dissect the sales conversation. This gives them an opportunity to reiterate all the learnings you've given them to this point, and how they're absorbing your previous coaching.

  3. When possible, record their sales conversations and sit with them while you play it back. Then there is no arguing; they hear it! They won’t say, “that didn’t happen.” This creates awareness when the coachable moment happens. The playback of a recorded call is key, because they can pause, listen back, read the feedback, and look at it simultaneously and repeatedly.


At the beginning of the debrief meeting ask them, “What went well? What didn't go well? What could have been done better? What was missed?” If they completely miss something that happened, ask a clarifying question like, "What about when the prospect asked this question? Do you think that's what they really meant? Do you think there was more behind that question? Tell me how you heard that question? What did you hear when they asked that?"

Instead of telling them from the beginning what they did wrong and how to fix it without hearing their thoughts, ask them, “What did you hear? Help me understand why you went the route that you did?"

Now all of a sudden that rep is having a conversation with you and that's where the awareness is, "Oh, I totally missed that, didn't I?" But now they own that.

Listen back to the recorded sales conversation with them and pause where improvements need to be made and talk through what that looks like.

Stop telling and start coaching.

Ready to really step up your management game?

We've compiled an excellent guide just for that - Step Up Your Game: The Complete Guide to Effective Sales Management.


Mary Grothe, CEO of House of Revenue™

Follow me on LinkedIn  and Twitter @MaryLGrothe

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Mary Grothe

Written by Mary Grothe