Guest Post: Three Mindsets of a Great Sales Coach

3 mindsets of a great sales coach by Mukesh Gupta


This is a guest post by Kevin F Davis. Kevin is the founder and president of TopLine Leadership, Inc. which provides customized sales management development programs and services.

He is the author of “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top”. I had the opportunity to read his book and was impressed with the thought process and the approach to sales management that he shares in the book. I was so impressed that I thought it would be best if I ask him to write a guest post on the topic of sales coaching for my blog. What follows is the post that he has shared. If you are a sales manager or lead a sales organisation, this book should be a must read for you.

Guest Post:

During a recent webinar I delivered for sales managers, nearly half (46%) of the 150+ participants said that they struggle with focusing too much on results. Sounds odd, doesn’t it, for sales managers to think they are over-focused on results?

Not really.

One person who knew a lot about winning was famed college basketball coach John Wooden. Coach Wooden and his historic UCLA dynasty won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including 88 straight games!

Wooden once said, “Competitiveness must be focused exclusively on the process of what you are doing rather than the result of that effort.” When coaching, Wooden was focused on the total effort of his players – he constantly urged them to strive for the self-satisfaction that always comes from knowing that you did the best you could do to become the best you are capable of.

Here are three great sales coaching mindsets inspired by John Wooden’s teachings. If you commit to these mindsets, your sales team will get better:

Mindset 1: Winning is the result of excellence, not the other way around.

Too often we recognize and reward only outcomes – deals won – and thus miss out on the opportunity right under our noses to help our salespeople become truly excellent by improving their processes.

You cannot help your team improve if all you know is the final score. You don’t know what decisions they made along the way, what actions they took or didn’t take that led to poor outcomes, what skills they did well and what skills need work.

There’s a famous saying that you can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself. Something similar applies here: You can’t directly manage results. You can only manage the processes and skills that reps use to produce those results.

Ye many sales managers seem to believe that monitoring weekly, monthly, or quarterly numbers is enough to help lead their team to excellence. It’s understandable, given the daily time pressures they are under. But the flaw in that thinking is that paying too much attention to end results actually makes it harder for a manager to improve results. How you do that is the subject of Mindset #2:

Mindset 2: When it comes to coaching, the strongest link to high revenue growth occurred in organisations where sales managers spent a lot of time “identifying skill deficiencies”

That’s a quote from research done by the Sales Management Association. The report found that in companies with the highest revenue growth, sales managers made time for understanding what a rep did well and what needed to be improved (“identifying skill deficiencies”)… and presumably working with the rep to improve in those areas.

These managers didn’t just look at the numbers that reflected behaviours long past. They didn’t just focus on closing the deals that were already in the pipeline. They focused on diagnosing sales performance problems through observation, and then developing skills that would help reps over the long-term.

When you work on developing rep skills, you’re improving the input side of the results equation. The team’s attitude – and their commitment to both you and your company – get better too.

Mindset 3: The daily goal should be to develop the mastery of your sales team. 

Coach Wooden believed that the “final score” is not the final score. Instead, he believed that his final score as a coach was how effectively he prepared the team to execute near their own individual capability of performance. To Wooden, it was about maximizing the performance of each person on the team. That was his final score. What will yours be?


One of the most important “Q2” activity that a sales manager needs to work on is to improve the effectiveness of his sales team. He can only do that by enabling his team to get better at the sales process. The only sustainable way to do that is by identifying where each one of his sales team needs coaching, understand if they are open to coaching and if yes, providing the right kind of feedback and coaching. This is as much an art as a science. Kevin in his book does a great job of covering all of this.

Sales managers are like sports coaches. They don't play but determine the results of their teams Click To Tweet