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The 3 Key Elements to Effective Sales Coaching

January 14, 2023

Sales coaching has one purpose and that is to make the salesperson better. It’s that simple. Coaching is about analyzing what a salesperson is doing in order to enhance their skills and improve their capabilities. Considering coaching has specific outcomes their needs to be a specific process or structure to make sure the goals are achieved. There are 3 key elements to effective sales coaching that can’t be ignored.


There are a million ways to coach and each sales leader has his or her own style. Style is important to coaching and shouldn’t be missed. But, style alone can’t coach. The following 3 elements must be included in effective sales coaching. They can be adopted to your style, but in order to effectively coach, a sales leader must be able to:


  • Observe
  • Describe
  • Prescribe



Effective sales coaching starts with observation. The sales leader has to observe the behaviors, the techniques and the approaches the players on their team are engaged in. The coach has to be able to see what they salesperson is doing. Great observation starts with knowing what you’re looking for. A solid understanding of selling techniques, approaches, methodologies is critical. It’s important for the coach to know what they are looking for and what is truly important, rather than getting side-tracked or caught up in superficial tactics.


Having a solid understanding of the sales approach and/or sales techniques the salesperson is performing is critical because it creates an expectation of what “should” be observed. As a coach, ya gotta know what you’re looking for.



Once the observation is complete, sales leaders need to be able to describe what they see. Effective sales coaching communicates the observations to the salesperson in a way the salesperson can use the information. One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on what the salesperson is doing, not what they aren’t doing. Keep the observations objective as possible. Rather than say; “You aren’t asking enough provoking questions,” highlight the actual observation. “I notice you ask a lot of discovery questions and then move to the pitch.”


Descriptions should contain these two elements; what you observe the salesperson doing and the outcomes you observe from their actions.


Ex: “I saw that you used the banking case study, even though they aren’t a bank. When you did this, the tone of the meeting changed and the buyers body language became distant and they stopped asking as many questions. Using a case study that didn’t align with their industry started to undermine the sale and your credibility.”


Effective coaching requires you include what you see and what happened. By doing so creates an understanding of cause and effect. In order for sales people to change the effect of their behavior, they must understand the cause. Coaching that observes and then describes cause and effect is far more productive.



Prescription is where the change comes from. If done correctly, the salesperson should have a good understanding of what they are doing (cause) and the outcomes of that behavior (effect). Prescription is what the salesperson needs to do to create the desired change or new effect. The coach needs to simply suggest a new approach, tactic etc that will “cause the effect.”


With sales coaching, what matters here is that the sales leader actually knows what to prescribe. As with the salesperson or the person being coached, prescribing the wrong thing can be disastrous. The prescription must align with the appropriate cause and effect.


Great sales coaches should know what they are looking for when observing their team. They should have a solid understanding of sales tactics, approaches and methodologies in order to identify and label the correct team behaviors. Once they’ve completed their observation they need to describe what they see as objectively as possible, focusing on what is really going on. Finally, they have to have the ability to prescribe changes that will create new behaviors which will create the change in outcomes they and the salesperson is looking for.


In the end coaches can have a million different styles. They can adopt their own methodologies for change, but regardless of their style and teaching approaches, coaches must be able to observe, describe and prescribe or everything else is a waste of time.


Incorporate these three elements into your coaching and watch the improvement sky rocket!


If you or your organization want to building an effective sales coaching culture, click here to schedule a call with our sales team.



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