Why Top Sales Reps Aren't Good Sales Coaches

Sales coaching is an integral part of a successful sales team. When it’s time to start defining who the best candidates are to fill these critical roles, a natural assumption is that your top sales reps will also be good sales coaches.

While this strategy may occasionally work out in your favor, your top sales reps should focus on their strengths – selling your solution and generating more revenue. Instead of automatically looking to your high performers, you should begin by identifying the characteristics and skillsets that make a good sales coach so you can choose correctly.

Characteristics of Effective Sales Coaches

As you review your sales team to identify a new coach, there are common traits to keep in mind that will help with your selection:

Expert Facilitator

Good sales coaches facilitate an experience that leads sales reps to the right answer without directly handing it to them. Self-discovery is the most effective way to promote behavior change. Sales coaches that ask open ended questions and play devil’s advocate when needed make a deeper, more effective impact on their sales reps’ learning process.


Great sales coaches don’t just go through the motions, they hold their team accountable. Research shows that 46% of sales reps rate “coaching by the sales manager” as one of the top ways to reinforce new skills. Your coaches should be natural motivators that keep everyone on track so your team can reap the benefits.

Performance Driver

Look for individuals who care about metrics. At the end of the day, sales coaching exists to improve your reps and drive better results. Finding a member of the sales team who is focused on results will ensure sales performance is a top priority

Asks Great Questions

Possibly one of the most important characteristics of good sales coaches is the ability to ask the right questions. Effective sales coaches don’t tell, they show. Asking the right questions helps sales reps uncover their own problems, and develop self-diagnostic skills for future roadblocks. Questions like the examples below are more effective than simply telling a rep how they performed:

  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What were you trying to accomplish?
  • What do you think are the best next steps?

Innovative Learner

You need a sales coach who is not afraid of trying new techniques and technologies. There are amazing solutions, like pitch analyzing technology, that can bring your sales coaching program to the next level if your leaders are willing to give them a try. Finding an innovator for the job helps ensure they’ll regularly search out new solutions and strategies on their own. In one survey 33% of respondents even rated “technology reinforcements and support” as one of the best ways to reinforce new sales skills.

Good Listener

You can’t have good sales coaches without having great listeners. The ability to sit back, take in the situation, and spend more time actively listening than talking is a rare skill, but a must for your sales coaches.

Patient Communicator

Along with good listening comes patience in general. It’s called sales coaching for a reason, and your sales reps may not “get it” on the first try. Your best sales coaches have patient personalities and are willing to work through developmental blocks to help reps perform better.

It’s important to understand the positive aspects of good sales coaches, but make sure you’re aware of the characteristics to avoid as well.

Characteristics of Ineffective Sales Coaches

A good sales coach elevates your reps, but choosing the wrong coach will be detrimental to your team and affect the ability to generate revenue. Avoid using a sales coach within your organization that has any of the following characteristics:

  • Always thinks they are right
  • Only wants to hear themselves talk
  • Has used the same techniques their entire career
  • Swears off technology and change
  • Has selective hearing

Nothing slows down sales coaching progress more than a leader who prefers to hear themselves talk rather than actually develop their reps. Add in having terrible listening skills and not wanting to try anything new, and you’ve got a serious recipe for disaster.

Some characteristics can improve over time with proper training and leadership, but when the trait is an inherent part of your potential sales coach, it’s probably best to choose a better option.

When you’re developing or revamping your sales coaching program, avoid heading straight towards your top sales reps. Determine who has the right foundation for success and your sales coaching initiative can only improve from there.

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