Is it Possible to Coach the Uncoachable Rep?

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “Is it Possible to Coach the Uncoachable Rep?”

Do you have a sales rep who’s struggling to improve their presentations or some other key skill? Maybe you’ve been down this road before and you’re asking if it’s possible to coach the uncoachable rep. You might also ask, as some experts do, if your rep is uncoachable or if you’re a poor coach.

Breaking Down the Key Sales Skills

A rep may seem uncoachable because they make the same mistakes again and again, even after you’ve pointed them out. Using presentations, for example, you know that an effective performance requires drawing on multiple resources. Your rep’s presentations may be bombing because they did a poor job in discovery. If your rep failed to learn what a prospect wants, in addition to what they need, the prospect’s interest in the presentation will fade quickly. Presentations also fail because the rep may not be professional in conduct or appearance. At least half of SMB buyers list that attribute as key when they are dealing with salespeople. When you coach on a specific sales skill, managers must take all of the personal and professional resources a rep draws on to excel at that skill. If you only address one of the talent issues, your coaching won’t be effective.

Correcting Communication Problems

On the topic of being a good coach, if your rep doesn’t seem to hear what you’re saying, you may have a communication problem. Part of a good coaching session comes down to how you ask questions. For some reps, you may need to ask specifically about the process they’re using for discovery. Be prepared to listen through a lengthy answer. Reps will notice if you get antsy and start shifting around before they are finished answering.

It’s never good when sales managers lose their cool during a one-​on-​one session. And some reps will take your emotional outburst harder than others. You’ll have to work much harder to regain trust from these reps. If you use an automated sales coaching solution that includes a communications component, you’ll know who these reps are.

Your automated sales coaching solution can also help you optimize communications with your reps. These solutions parse results information from sales skills assessments and then personalize suggestions about how to communicate with each rep. When you pay attention to these tips, you’ll find that reps respond to the coaching suggestions you make. 

In addition to working on your communication style, Kevin Davis advises, “make sure your mindset is to help and not to judge.” Otherwise you might come across as critical (think — disapproving parent) and your coaching efforts won’t be appreciated.

Screening for Coachability

When you’re in a position to hire a new rep, you can benefit from asking candidates to take a sales assessment test that is designed to screen for work tendencies such as coachability. Interestingly, only 40% of survey sales reps agree that coachability is a key characteristic needed for them to succeed in their profession. However, 60% of sales managers say being coachable is necessary for their reps to excel in their careers. This statistic suggests that many sales managers have enough experience to understand the importance of coaching and can handle the uncoachable rep with the right mindset. To head off future problems, make coachability a key aspect of your hiring criteria.

The Uncoachable Rep

If you have a team member in your organization who’s struggling, don’t be quick to label them as the uncoachable rep. First, work on your communication style to see if that will improve results. You can also try methodical quick-​coaching tactics offered in a sales coaching solution. With consistent effort, you may see some results. If that doesn’t work, ask your rep to take a sales skills assessment test that is designed to uncover their true strengths. This individual may turn out to be a whiz at sales operations and you’ll be able to move them into a position where they’ll excel in your organization.