How much Sales Coaching is Enough?

I'm very pleased that my first guest post of 2013 and the very first post on my new portal at Hubspot comes from Arjun Moorthy. In his own words...

I'm a big believer in professional coaching and have been receiving sales coaching from Rick Roberge for the last few months.  One of the questions I've been mulling over is how do you know when you've received enough coaching.  I have a theory based on my experience, though it may be somewhat disheartening.

When I started sales coaching I remember telling Rick that I sometimes reflect on a meeting afterwards and think "why on earth did I say that" or "saying x didn't have the intended outcome I expected."  Rick told me that as I get better I'll be able to observe my actions as though from a third-party point of view, as it were occurring.  I thought this was rather metaphysical of Rick (he can be that way sometimes) and didn't really believe him but this has turned out to be quite true. I now catch myself before I say something regrettable or unnecessary, particularly statements intended to establish my credibility when this often isn't really in question. Not always but in most cases - and this seems to me a good signal that my training is working.

A signal for when I might be done with coaching is if I feel I can coach others on points I have been trained on.  I've found myself attempting to pass on Rick's teachings with a few people, though not terribly successfully so far.  Another variant of this is when Rick had me observe him coaching a third person and I was able to pick up on areas where that person needed guidance.  Being able to recognize in others what you have seen in yourself is a good indication that your training is strong.

Along those lines, one of the strongest indications that my coaching may be nearing completion is my ability to spot games, or tactics, others are playing with me - consciously or otherwise. This has been the most startling, and dare I say fun, parts of being coached. What previously I may have ignored as innocent or peculiar comments by my colleagues is now recognizable for its probable intentions. I don't always pick up on this but even doing so once in a while has made a big difference.

With regard to depth of training I discovered something interesting here. As my last blog post mentioned I was out of contact for 10-day on a meditation retreat.  When I came back to work and got on some sales calls I noticed my ability to ask questions, and even my preperations, was lacking compared to before the retreat just 10 days prior.  Putting aside whether I found some sort of nirvana that is affecting my selling ability I suspect this shows that my training is still not deep enough that it's become my DNA.  So in that regard I'm not done with coaching.

Finally, I've read that elite athletes always have a coach no matter how good they get and in this respect you're never actually "done" with coaching.  Indeed, arguably the better you get the more coaching you need because it becomes harder to improve your game and you often aren't getting honest feedback from your peers and bosses as you get more senior.  Now, for mere mortals this prospect may be financially daunting so perhaps a more practical signal is to look for the above signals as a sign to move from full-time coaching to a periodic check-in or tune-up model.

Readers - what do you think?

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