8 years ago
April 13, 2016

5 Sales Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

Most sales coaching mistakes fall into a few categories, categories we’ll be explaining in this article.

Rhys Metler

A skilled team leader can guide their sales people to new heights with savvy sales coaching, but anywhere you have room for improvement in sales you’ll find a matching pitfall to avoid. There are a number of mistakes which can arise when coaching others; even if you’re a skilled sales person with the best intentions, you can inadvertently damage your team’s potential. But don’t worry! Most sales coaching mistakes fall into a few categories, categories we’ll be explaining in this article. With this article under your belt, you can get back to leading your sales people without fear!

Poor Communication.

Miscommunication is the most basic mistake you can make in any role, and it’s especially dangerous in sales coaching. Always make sure you’ve been understood, that your expectations and advice have been clearly conveyed. Ask specific questions and get specific answers back. It doesn’t matter how good you are at sales coaching in terms of planning, understanding your team, etc., if you are regularly misunderstood. Poor communication leads to conflict, as expectations aren’t met and progress seizes for reasons no one can discern. Conflict with the team you’re coaching leads to less trust in what you’re teaching. It’s a nasty spiral that a little care can avoid.

Lack of Praise.

It’s basic psychology for people of any age; when we do things well, we want to be rewarded, with words and other forms of acknowledgment. Recognizing what your sales team members do well is important to the coaching process and their morale. If you never have anything nice to say during your sales coaching, you won’t get good results. The issue is in fact broader than a few ‘good jobs’ here and there. You need to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses so you can acknowledge individual’s feats. If you ask your team for opinions or ideas, don’t immediately put those opinions and ideas away to be forgotten. Remember that all the lessons in the world don’t matter if team morale is down.

Public Shaming.

The drill sergeant approach doesn’t do very well in sales–or anywhere else that isn’t a military unit, for that matter. Using individuals as object lessons for the team, or expecting the shame of a public criticism to improve an individual’s performance in the future, is generally speaking a terrible idea. Sales coaching based on fear may, in some situations, result in a better bottom line…but those individuals will be quick to change employers with their new skills. Leave the military training to the military. Keep mistakes private whenever possible, and your team members will respond much better to your coaching.


Sales is equal parts art and science, so there will never be a single perfect approach. That means sales coaching needs to be personalized for each team member–it’s no exaggeration to say that one-on-one coaching will be the most important sales coaching you do. Few things improve a sales team’s outcomes better than regular one-on-one coaching from a knowledgeable team leader. Again, this demands a certain level of understanding of your team members.

Winging It.

Hard data matters in coaching. Having a plan matters. Playing it by ear may be the worst sales coaching mistake you can make. Stay educated on technique, build a strategy and tactics that you can teach, and keep tabs on what your team as a whole and as individuals are up to. Metrics, charts, and planning may not be fun to dig through, but you’ll see far better outcomes. Don’t get lazy!

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.