3 Ways to Make Your Reps More Coachable


3 Ways to Make Your Reps More Coachable


Coachability. It’s a beautiful thing. Working with coachable sales reps is a pleasure. They listen, they want to improve, and most all of they outpace their peers. In fact, Mark Roberge, author of The Sales Acceleration Formula, studied this in detail and found that coachability was the number one characteristic that correlated most to sales rep success. As an MIT grad, Mark took over as Head of Sales for HubSpot and grew revenue to $100 million by studying the attributes that make sales reps most effective.

Here are the 5 most import characteristics Mark found:

  1. Coachability
  2. Curiosity
  3. Prior Success
  4. Intelligence
  5. Work Ethic

Interesting.  Here’s a simple definition of coachable from Merriam-Webster.

Coachable: adj. Capable of being easily taught and trained to do something better.

Coachability is pretty important

[OK, CRITICAL] in sales, I’d say. But how many of your reps are truly coachable? Most? Some? Maybe just a few?

When reps aren’t truly open to feedback and improvement, you’re limiting your team’s potential, a lot. Sales reps who don’t accept feedback are never going to reach their potential. Worse yet, their stubbornness can hurt the team’s culture and keep their peers from reaching their potential.

But, sales is a competitive sport, and it attracts a lot of people with strong wills and big egos. So it’s sometimes hard to get personalities of this type to openly accept feedback, much less truly internalize it. Couple that with the fact that most of us probably haven’t been trained too much on how to accept feedback, or give it for that matter.

Let’s talk about 3 techniques you can apply to make your reps more coachable.

1. Talk about coachability as a team

Get your team together and discuss what coachability means. Talk about how being coachable can improve their careers, not just from a sales perspective, but across the board.

Don’t let them off the hook. Go around the room and ask each person’s opinion about coachability, why they think it’s important, and how it can help them improve.

2. Set expectations about how to handle [and give] feedback

Discuss how to handle coaching and feedback. Tell them your expectations on being open minded, and always showing a willingness to improve their game. And this includes feedback from others, not just from you.

Positive comments are included under the umbrella of “feedback.” Positive comments are much more powerful than the other types of feedback. A four to one ratio (positive to negative) is a pretty good guide. When you give constructive or negative feedback, do it with finesse.  I’ve never seen the “Can I be honest with you. You suck at XYZ.” approach to be very effective.

Bad Example:

“Ben, you always hit me with requirements 5 minutes before a meeting and it drives me crazy.”

Good Example:

“Ben, sometimes when you ask me to do things just before a meeting it doesn’t give me time to get things right to help in the way I know I can.”

3. Provide positive feedback when reps display coachability

Let reps know how much you appreciate their willingness to learn and grow. Emphasize how important it is to improving their careers and to being a good team player. People love to hear positive feedback. It’s in our nature as humans. Crank up their motivation by telling them how great they are when they take feedback in a constructive way.


A Final Note

Okay. Now the reality check. What do you do about reps that refuse to be coachable? We’ve all seen them. The reps that think they have it all figured out and this stuff is “touchy-feely nonsense.” If they’re top-performing, it’s difficult. If they’re not, it’s easy. In my opinion, you need to be courageous and find replacements for those not coachable. Otherwise, they will slowly kill the coachability and effectiveness of the team. Tough decisions for sure, but sales is not a business that rewards wimps. I have great faith you’ll make the right choices.


Hope you have your best year ever.

Pete McChrystal

By Accent Technologies

4th January 2017