The Importance of Coaching                        

We recently shared a review of “The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of CEB.

The Challenger Sales Model is a framework for solution selling enabled by organizational capabilities and Sales management fundamentals. “The Challenger Sale” outlines three primary attributes of manager excellence as reflected in CEB data, “Selling, Coaching, and Owning”.  This blog focuses on the coaching attribute.   Why?  Embracing and evolving towards the Challenger Sales Model requires ongoing commitment, change management, trust, collaboration, and discipline.  Effective coaching can provide the transformative influence along this path; here are a few tenets reflected in the book:

  • Coaching is not training; coaching is the hands-on application of prior training and skills development.
  • Coaching is connected to the actual sales process.
  • Coaching is based on desired behaviors, not tangible outcomes e.g. conversion rates.
  • Coaching is tailored to the sales representative, and sales process/opportunity.
  • Coaching needs to be perceived as “safe” by the sales representatives, which therefore facilitates “safe training” opportunities.  A line, albeit thin, must be maintained between what could be perceived as performance management and what is perceived as beneficial coaching.
  • Coaching within the Challenger Sales Model enables “Innovation-at-the-deal-level” which is about “co-creation and collaboration” and definitely not “deal inspection” i.e. “Did you send the proposal on time?”
  • Sales innovation is about diagnosing encumbrances to moving the deal towards a purchase decision; it’s also about helping and teaching the rep to align his/her organization’s “… existing capabilities to each customer’s unique environment and then presenting those capabilities to the customer through the specific lens of whatever customer obstacle is keeping the deal from closing”.

Dixon and Adamson explore the importance of coaching while presenting data and figures which illustrate the significance of this attribute for excellence. They also share a simple framework for effective, hypotheses-based-coaching called “PAUSE”.  As expressed in the book, “… the notion of PAUSE can be powerful for the manager because it suggests this idea of slowing down and thinking through the intent and purpose of the coaching interaction as opposed to making it a “check the box” activity as most time-pressed sales managers are naturally inclined to do”.

As with our initial blog about “The Challenger Sale”, this blog is shared only as a primer and is certainly not a substitute for reading this powerful book.

Treeline ( is a sales focused executive search firm that has worked with thousands of sales candidates and hiring managers over the past twelve years.  Named for the outdoor adventurers who “climb above the Treeline” -the altitude beyond which trees can survive- for the rush, excitement, and challenge, Treeline also helps companies improve top line revenue with sales-focused professional services.  Treeline can help instantiate or define your sales structure and model, staff the model, and sustain the model — including help with promoting and sustaining a sales culture of performance.  Treeline is also the developer of DADOMATCH.

DADOMATCH is a technology and service that helps sales hiring managers define, find and hire the perfect fit faster and with less cost.  DADOMATCH provides an effective lens that highlights characteristics and the degree to which the role and candidate are naturally aligned.  DADOMATCH organizes and presents this information along with the candidate’s work history and accomplishments.  Please click here to view a sample.

Published On: June 3rd, 2013Categories: Blog News, Sales Recruiting

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