The Worst Coaching Questions You Can Ask

I always hated pipeline reviews with my sales manager. Once a week we reviewed what sales opportunities I had on deck and I was generally asked two questions:

  • When will this close?
  • Why hasn’t it closed???

These questions don’t make it easy for the sales person to open up with information the sales manager can use to help. Typically the sales person gives definitive answers with fingers crossed behind their back. Or, worse, the sales rep is so excited by what seems to be a solid deal that he or she hasn’t considered what might go wrong.

There are two things that help a sales manager get better quality information, help vs. interrogate, and have fewer unexpected pipeline bumps.

  • Set the stage for a different kind of pipeline review by providing context: …I’m not sure I’ve been as helpful as I might be in pipeline reviews. Instead of asking you when something will close or why hasn’t it, it might be more helpful if we could strategize together about what might get in the way of closing the deal – even if we come up with things that seem far fetched. Hopefully another set of eyes can make deals easier to close without an unexpected hitch…
  • In reviewing each deal, ask something like: …What might be two or three things that could possibly stall or get in the way of this deal closing, even if the probability is low?

Ideally you will get an answer like: The advisor I’m working with seems good to go, but I have not been able to get access to his partner who will weigh in on the decision…

Or: The last 3 times I’ve tried to get in touch I haven’t been able to get a call back.

If you can get the sales person to open up, you will know if you can help them strategize, get a better feel for parts of his or her selling process you can influence, and have more confidence in the overall pipeline.

The best coaches recognize that their job in coaching is to:

  • Establish rapport
  • Uncover needs
  • Present a solution
  • Handle objections
  • Come to an agreement on next steps

Sound eerily close to the sales process?