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focus_Revolutionize Your Coaching Action Plans

Revolutionize Your Coaching Action Plans

By Marcy Lantzy

I remember when I became a first-line manager. Before that, I’d been a successful sales professional and trainer who had completed a manager assessment class. Backed by insight gained during my sales trainer role, I began my initial first-line management training. I learned how to interview, the basics of legality and compliance and the training around the coaching model including giving feedback. Then I promptly started my field rides and coaching.

After a few months, there was a regional meeting where I sat with one or two fellow newer managers, and a few with years of experience. We asked our experienced colleagues to identify what “good” looks like and what to give people as a coaching plan to improve. They did not have an answer other than you learn over time. We thought it would be cool if someone would help define what good looks like at each step of the rating scale and share proven techniques on how to increase the impact of the field contact report. Having worked with many organizations the past 12 years, I’ve heard the same thing from other first-line and even second-line managers.

Companies have since evolved and some demonstrate observable behaviors of what good looks like at different parts of their rating scale, which is a great start. But I rarely see shared ideas for action plan tasks. While there is formal training that may be self-paced, I am referring to what sales professionals can do on their own time and how a manager can follow up.

As trainers, how can we improve manager coaching, pull-through training and consistent coaching?

One way is to provide proven ideas that can be applied to coaching plans. Sales professionals often improve on the job and through action items given during a field ride. Beyond formal training, either self-paced or live, managers must create those ideas. Yet, every action item needing improvement may not be a formal training.

Two examples of a coaching plan task for sales professionals working to improve probing skills could be creating five effective probing questions or reading a book on effective questioning. Managers typically have to create these tasks on their own for field coaching reports. As a trainer, you can provide value to management by creating and sharing ideas that work, giving people a list of tasks linked to each behavior and ratings benefits managers and sales professionals alike. Managers end up with an effective tool to increase both coaching-plan and field-ride value, as well as specific actions to increase performance. Sales professionals ultimately benefit from the opportunity to perform a task that will improve their skills.

You could create these ideas by having your managers capture the list or facilitate virtual sessions to share ideas. The next step is to train managers to use this list during field rides and to follow up with sales professionals to ensure completion, and then analyze the business impact of improving the skill. When done correctly, this process greatly benefits the company through improved sales performance. ________________________________________________________________________________Marcy Lantzy is vice president, sales and marketing, for Proficient Learning. Email Marcy at

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