Stephen Newman’s Blog

The Sales Leader as Coach

Confront, avoid or “snuggle up” and …who coaches them?



Most sales leaders expect to coach their teams, but just how effective is the coaching they provide?  

Coaching is a word that is often used but frequently misunderstood. The perception of “Help for no-hopers” vanished decades ago. Business coaching has really come to the fore in the last 20 years. Today, sales leaders recognise that coaching is another tool to help their team achieve results. It can help drive sustainable change and improvement. Coaching can overcome challenges not affected by training and accelerate results by helping sales professionals embrace new techniques learned in training. Today it is also frequently requested and negotiated by sales leaders as part of their benefits package. 

Worryingly, although many sales leaders find themselves having to coach their team members, knowledge of coaching techniques is sparse. I meet sales leaders who include coaching as a skill. Many have taken an NLP courses (which is something different) and some are aware of the G.R.O.W. technique, a basic tool with limited application. Neither are guaranteed to prepare you for common challenges you might encounter whilst coaching your people.

Leaders would be better equipped if they had a broader knowledge of coaching to apply different techniques, in the moment of need. This is not a complete list but a skilled Coach will have developed his/her own style borne out of a capability to draw value from:-

–          Relational Coaching

–          Problem Focused Coaching

–          Person Centred Coaching

–          Solution Focused Coaching

as well as the capacity to think reflexively and bring less of themselves into the session (techniques requiring much practice). Some professional Coaches even use techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Transaction Analysis (TA) in business coaching situations to help people in stressful working conditions or where confidence has been lost.

Most sales leaders are working extremely hard and often “flat-out” in a challenging business climate. I am sure some sales leaders make excellent coaches but  I see others who do not invest sufficient resource (personal or procured) in coaching, either because they don’t have the time or the experience to do it properly.  Some will turn to training or mentoring but these are not substitutes for skilled sales coaching.  To ignore coaching or to substitute it for something else can lead to ongoing poor performance, resistance to change and higher staff turnover.

Finally, if you are an active sales coach, who is coaching you? Experienced coaches use Supervisors to help them really get to grips with the many facets of their coaching work. Good coaches also need to talk to someone. The best make sure they do.

Stephen Newman has an M.Sc. in Executive Coaching from Ashridge International Business School. He also actively participates in coaching supervision.

Find out more about what sets an effective leader apart from a successful one, talk to Stephen Newman on: Telephone: +44 (0)1923 818 967 email: or visit: