How to Coach Well – Coaching is Not Telling, Part 1

I recently overheard a manager telling an employee how to do something. The reason I overheard it was not because I was in the same room but because he was so loud that everyone in the vicinity heard him! After the manager was done, he happened to wander to my desk and mentioned how he had had a “big successful coaching session” with this person and that he felt it had gone very well. I found this interesting because what I heard was not coaching but telling.

Although I’m not “the” expert in coaching people how to coach, I do know that a good coach is someone who can explain and engage the person he or she is coaching in a way that is nonthreatening and helpful. A great coach lets the person being coached find his or her own way. This makes us all feel good. Telling someone what to do is just that – and the  “My way or the highway” approach really stifles people’s ideas and creativity. How is that helpful? Coaching is a form of selling as well as teaching and helping people learn better skills and techniques. Great sales professionals are also great teachers and therefore great coaches. Another way we are truly “all in sales.”

Coaching does a few things:

  • It builds confidence and trust – and more sales.
  • It creates more opportunities to develop people, hear their ideas, and show them that they matter and contribute to the Sales Culture.
  • It creates a more profitable virtual sales team and increases client and employee retention.
  • It lets people know they are valued and that they have skills you value and that are monetized.
  • It’s direct and has a point but not necessarily an end – coaching is a long-term investment.

Yes, we are all coaches in some fashion – so ask yourself this question: When you have the opportunity to help someone by coaching, do you respond by telling them or coaching them? I think that being a great coach is a skill that we can all work on and be aware of so we always “coach and not tell!”

Good Selling and Coaching!

4 thoughts on “How to Coach Well – Coaching is Not Telling, Part 1”

  1. The words we us matter.

    Coaching is not about telling someone something, it is about recommendations. How often have we all heard “you should, I would have, you have to, you need to…”? How many of us hear those words and either get defensive or feel like we “should” have known that or done that already?

    Of course I say these things too, both in my professional and personal life. I do, however, try to purposely use the word recommend whenever possible. Really, that is all any person can provide to another person, a recommendation for action. This provides the receiver of the information with a choice, ownership of that choice, and the feeling of empowerment. Even when managing employees, all the manager can do is recommend behavior. There may be consequences if the employee does not adhere to rules, policies, laws, but it is always the employee’s choice to act appropriately.

    I have found great success using this approach with my employees, in corporate settings, educational settings, and even with my children.

  2. I believe among the skills of great sales professionals and great professionals is the inclination to ask the prospect or “coachee” perceptive questions about the” problem” under discussion. Seller and coach help an individual examine all the dimensions of the issue, where the client or staff member identifies the implications of doing nothing about the issue. Finally, the manager or seller helps , again by asking penetrating questions, the payoffs to the person or organization of solving the problem. You have a buyer or employee motivated to take action, and you did not “tell” them anything.

    Peter Doris

  3. Coaching is a wonderful combination of skill and art that is fashioned over time. The skill is in setting up good coaching moments and content. The art is knowing what to say and pushing enough, but mot making decisions for or discouraging the other person.
    Good article. Thanks.

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