How to be an inspirational sales coach

Posted by James Pember on 3/10/15 9:00 AM

How to Be an Inspirational Sales Coach

There's a cartoon I love to share with my sales teams. It shows a group of people pulling a giant block of limestone with a half-finished pyramid in the distance. The one cracking the whip and barking orders is called the “Boss.” The one at the front of the group, pulling the hardest and encouraging the others, is called the “Leader.” For me, this simple image sums up what sales coaching is all about: leadership, not bossing.

Today, sales coaches must be leaders rather than bosses just to understand how the sales landscape is changing. Advances in technology, uncertain economies around the world and a more mobile society have made the science of sales more subtle and complex than ever.

Effectively motivating salespeople requires being there in the trenches with your team. No one ever said it was going to be easy, but the best coaches make it happen.

How to be an inspirational sales coach

Here are three actions you can take to ramp up yours sales motivation skills and inspire your team to a J curve in whatever metric you set for them.

1. Lead by Example

Throughout history, the greatest salespeople have made the best coaches, and the reverse should also be true. David Ogilvy became so successful at selling cook stoves door to door that his company begged him to write a book about how to convert his selling style into advertising. I'm not saying read his book, I'm saying write your own. Salespeople recognize a leader who knows sales instinctively. They love to follow a leader who knows exactly what he is talking about, not someone spouting tired advice from a training manual. The best coaches lead by example and prove their points instead of clicking through PowerPoints.

2. Give Them a Reason to Believe

In his book, "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action," Simon Sinek examined the “how” of learning leadership skills. Sinek explained how the latest research in neuroscience applies to sales motivation. The outside layers of our brains, the neocortex, control rational thought and language. The interior, the limbic brain, operates emotions like trust and drive. When we give people information, they consider it. When we start with why we do things, they gain trust and become internally motivated to follow. Sinek summed up this new understanding of motivation in a single sentence: “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they'll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

3. Investigate the Latest Tools

You don't have to go it alone. Each generation of sales coaches supercharges its leadership by using the best motivational technology available. Staying current opens your eyes to innovative sales tools that employ sales gamification and more detailed metrics to help your sales team push past their limitations. Inspirational speeches have their place, but combining the latest motivational tools with the right data achieves a great deal more.

The New Baseline

Inspirational sales coaches (just like salespeople) are made, not born. Taking these actions will channel your natural talent into a disciplined leadership. This is really the beginning of a long process, with goals and sub goals along the way. The goal is to establish achievements as baselines for your next set of goals. There are pyramids that no one has built yet, and your sales team is just waiting for the right leader to take them there.


Topics: tips for sales managers, sales management, motivating sales people, sales motivation, sales gamification, sales coaching

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