Sales Coaching à la Pythagoras and My Dad

A few thousand people are warching a conversation on LinkedIn as to whether or not a sales coach or manager needs to listen to their salespeople live, listen to recorded sales calls or rely on the salesperson's memory and the coach's skill at getting to the truth.

There is no consensus yet, but some have suggested that sales managers aren't as effective as they could be in coaching their reps. (They've also suggested that rep's memories may not be perfect, but that's for another time.) Please allow me to explain the title.

Pythagoras is credited as the first mathemetician to prove that the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle equals the square of the hypotenuse. It's called the Pythagorean theorem.

345 triangle-2.jpgNow, my father never graduated from high school, but he built every house that I remember living in until I left for college. One day, he's framing an inner wall and he makes a mark on the floor (Point A) where he wants the wall to come out from the existing wall. Then he uses his ruler to measure out from the wall and swings his ruler to make an arc 3 feet from Point A. Then he measures 4 feet along the wall to Point B. Then he puts the end of his ruler on Point B and swings his ruler to make another arc 5 feet from Point B. The two arcs intersected at a point in the red circle exactly 3 feet from Point A and 5 feet from Point B and the angle at Point A was a perfect 90 degree angle making for a perfect corner.

I asked him where he learned the Pythagorean theorem and he replied, "Huh?" He knew how to make a square corner. He didn't need to understand that 3x3 + 4x4 = 5x5.

I understood the formula, but until he showed me, I didn't know that I could use it to make a square corner.

Here's the coaching lesson.

Some understand, but can't do. Others can do without understanding. Data, theory, process might be understood and digested, but until a rep is coached through a scenario multiple times, multiple ways, they won't own it.

BTW, if you want to read the LinkedIn discussion, have fun.

Also, did you read The Unnoticed Obstacle to Achieving Your Sales Goals?

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