Skip to content

Can managers ACTUALLY coach?

I was having a conversation with Janice Mars of Sales Latitude and Meshell Baker who Ignites Confidence about sales and sales leadership. When I made the statement – I don’t know that sales managers can actually coach their team.

For the record:

  • Managers and leaders can (and need to) use coaching skills and questions with their sales team.
  • Coaching IS important to a salesperson, sales manager, and sales leader’s personal success.

My Top 3 Reason for this belief via my experience as an external sales coach are:

  1. People are willing to share how they are feeling about something with an external coach… they’d never share with their BOSS.

Most of the people I’ve coached over the year are feeling ONE or more of the following ways: afraid, uncomfortable, confused, overwhelmed, angry. Sometimes because of or directed toward their manager.

In corporate life – sharing any of those feelings with your boss holds an additional fear of it being held against you.

Notice I didn’t say it WOULD be held against them, yet the additional fear means sharing any of it with their manager is unlikely.

  1. One of the most important parts of why the coaching programs are successful is external coaches are coaching to the person’s goals – regardless of what they are.

In sales – goals are considered the numbers the COMPANY gives to the salesperson.

Yet the goals a company gives to a salesperson aren’t what an external coach is working with them on.


I’ll give you an example before I lose your attention altogether AND you never hire an external coach for your organization!

Chris, a salesperson who was a coaching client of mine for a time had a dream of owning his own home theater installation company. Yet here he was “stuck” in an 8 to 5 sales gig so his family could have health insurance and financial security.

That was when I asked him “what if you looked for how coming to work every day helps you move closer to your inspirational goal?”

At first, he couldn’t see any connection – then we started digging in, and here is what came out:

  • the health insurance was only until his kids all went to school and his wife went back to work – that was about 5 years away so seemed like forever.
  • there were several sales skills that would be critical to his success as a small business owner – that he could focus on using daily in his current role.

The next day Chris came into work and looked for opportunities to hone the skills he would need to be a successful business owner. Shockingly (to him not me!) his sales started increasing and his 8 to 5 job success increased beyond what he thought possible.

Now those 5 years have long since passed. He ended up in a better financial position than he ever imagined to keep his family secure while quitting his “day job” to pursue his inspiration.

  1. Beyond success as defined by the person I’m coaching, I have no ulterior motive.

Keeping the story going, Chris’ sales success made him a success before he left to pursue his dreams – by the company’s measurements!
Back to those sales goals the company sets. No matter what that measurement is; revenue, profit, MMR, appointments set, etc. it’s the metric of success the manager needs every salesperson to hit… for the manager themself to be considered a success as well.

That is their ulterior motive. The salesperson’s COMPANY GOAL success is what drives their own.

Of course, that doesn’t mean as a manager coach the salesperson’s corporate success isn’t important. Yet from the point of view most salespeople have – that is the ONLY thing their manager cares about.

Am I right? I certainly can think of exceptions to my statement that sales managers can’t actually coach their team. I’m sure you can too.

Yet, they are exceptions NOT the rule.

Probably because most managers can’t let go of coaching to goal, instead of coaching the salesperson!

All my best,

Back To Top