Improve Your Sales Coaching with Two Simple Steps – Part 3

Improve Your Sales Coaching with Two Simple Steps - Part 3I guess it’s somewhat funny that a simple, two-step addition to sales coaching has taken a 3-part blog series to communicate. Hopefully, it’s been a good journey for those who have come along for the ride.

  • In Part 1, I laid out the overall framework of the two-step addition, and explained Addressing the Right Issues, which involves diagnosing effectively, and Addressing the Issues Right, which is selecting and implementing solutions effectively.
  • In Part 2, I went into detail on Addressing the Right Issues

In this final post in the series, Part 3, I will detail Addressing the Issues Right.


Addressing the Issues Right: Solution Analysis

In this stage, now that we have hypothesized and confirmed gaps in mindset, knowledge, judgment, skills, behaviors (hopefully in comparison to your internal data on top producer differentiators) and identified environmental obstacles, it’s time to select appropriate solutions. The most effective way to accomplish this is to identify appropriate solutions based on the type of gap(s).

  • Explore possible solutions
    • In a landmark book, Analyzing Performance Problems, Bob Mager and Peter Pipe explain a very logical process to systematically find solutions to performance problems. In it, they introduce the Performance Analysis Worksheet (see:, which is a step-by-step flowchart, leading to solution outcomes such as clarify expectations, provide feedback, provide resources, train, remove obstacles, and more, all the way down to replace person. This tool had a profound impact on me in my early years in training and development, helping me to realize that many performance problems were not solved by training.
    • Another author that I came to respect and reference frequently was Ferdinand Fournies, who wrote Coaching for Improved Work Performance and Why Employees Don’t Do What They Are Supposed To Do (And What To Do About It), which was a New York Times Best Seller.  His content is behavioral-based, pragmatic, and excellent, but his 16 reasons why employees don’t do what they are supposed to do, is classic – and was the most illuminating for me. See: and scroll down to the Table of Contents, which lists the 16 reasons. I’ve also pasted them below… just in case this page isn’t a permalink. In the book, he addressed the reasons and provides appropriate solutions, similar in concept to Mager and Pipe’s work.

Ferdinand Fournies’ 16 Reasons Employees Don’t Do What They Are Supposed To Do

They don’t know why they should do it.
They don’t know how to do it.
They don’t know what they are supposed to do.
They think your way will not work.
They think their way is better.
They think something else is more important.
There are no positive consequences for doing the task.
They think they are doing it when they, in actuality, are not.
They are rewarded for not doing it.
They are punished for doing what they are supposed to do.
They expect a negative consequence for doing it.
Their poor performance does not receive a negative consequence.
There are obstacles beyond their control.
Their personal limits prevent them from completing the task.
Personal Issues.
The task cannot be done.

  • Select best solutions
    • This is where my recommendations diverge from some (but not all) of the coaching models on the market. Similar to Blanchard and Hersey’s versions of Situational Leadership, in which you base the appropriate leadership action on the needs of the performer, not every solution is best selected (or later, delivered) through a facilitative style. Sometimes, you need to be directive. Other times, you facilitate or lead the session. At other times, you may turn it over to the rep and ask them to report their plan to you.
    • In the case where there is not a solution that you need to prescribe exactly, yourself, default to your facilitative coaching model to engage and involve the rep in selecting or identifying the best solution. Obviously, this can enhance buy-in and ownership of the solution.
    • If you have to set clear or firm expectations or manage their performance, you may need to take the reins and select the solution yourself. If you read Fournies’ work, you’ll find that you can still often facilitate these discussions through effective use of questioning.

Provide Solution Support

  • This is done in a similar way, through your training or coaching models for running a coaching session. If you’ve determined a gap in mindset, knowledge, judgment, skills or behaviors, provide the rep the support they need.
  • This might include my simple Tell, Show, Do, Review training model or 3-D Coaching (Discuss, Demo, Do), or GROW, DOME, or any one of the standard coaching models on the market (for developmental sales coaching, I’m still a huge fan of Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach). In short, provide the information, demonstration, skill practice, feedback, resources and/or support that your rep needs. I encourage the use of communication checks at each stage, to ensure communication is clear and remove all doubt that the rep understands expectations, what to do, and can actually do it. (In case you need to address non-performance later, these checks and verifications systematically remove most excuses, in advance.)
  • While this is a topic unto itself, and is what many people consider the actual coaching session, this section isn’t the purpose of this particular post on diagnosis and solution development, so I will breeze past the rest of this and move on to action planning.

Action Planning

  • This is pretty common, too, so hopefully doesn’t need much of an explanation. Once you’ve settled on a solution and provided whatever support you can at the time, you should create an Action Plan for implementation.
  • Establish expectations for who, what, why, where, how, and by when things will be done.
  • Set a date for review of plans, actions, results, and as needed, additional diagnosis and solutions.
  • Recommend or provide additional resources, as needed, as well.
  • Allow the rep to drive this as much as possible. Have them document, summarize and share. And when you get back together to review their activity and results, they should drive as much of that meeting as possible, too.

Well, that wraps this series on sales coaching, and the two big items around diagnosis and solution selection. Not that the other pieces aren’t critical… they are. But these are pieces that I often see as weak or missing, and they can add a measurable impact to the effectiveness of your coaching efforts. Hopefully, this series has given you some food for thought and tools to use.

I’ll be back next week with a new 2-part series start, and hopefully, one of my first guest posts.

In the meantime, thanks for reading, be safe out there, and by all means, let’s continue to elevate our sales profession.


Mike Kunkle
Transforming Sales Results with Clear Insight & Focused Execution

<mike at mikekunkle dotcom>


Mike Kunkle

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