How To Hire A Sales Coach

by Paul Castain on June 14, 2011

By way of confession, I used to hate “singers” back when I played in bands.

I hated the “singers” because there were many who didn’t have an ounce of talent, couldn’t sing worth a damn and when push came to shove they figured “Oh well, I guess I’ll sing!”

Fast forward a few decades and a lot less hair later, I find myself of a similar opinion of many “sales coaches” so I thought I’d share with you a few tips on how to select someone who can truly help you get to that next level!


How many years have they been a sales professional?

I don’t think that every sales coach needs a kazillion years of experience to be an effective coach but I do want to warn you that there are some people out there with little to no actual sales experience.

What was their track record as a sales rep?

Although I’ve always been a Top 20 performer, I don’t think you have to be the top dog in order to coach others to do it but I do believe you need to know a thing or two about performing consistently.

What is their level of experience in the areas where you wish to improve?

When I say “level of experience” I don’t mean just coaching others . . . I mean actual, hands on, “I did this and/or are doing this myself” type of experience.

Are they still involved in actual selling?

The business world is moving at the speed of light these days. What was relevant, appropriate and spot on a few years ago, might be outdated and antiquated today.

If you want sales coaching that is up to date and relevant . . . you’ll want to hire someone who is still actively in the trenches!

What products or services have they sold?

While good sales skills can apply to numerous industries, it’s important that this component aligns with what you wish to accomplish.

For example: If you’re selling a big ticket item, with a lengthy sales cycle, a sales coach who was involved in transactional type sales probably won’t be a good fit.

What types of things challenged them as a sales professional?

I don’t care how good someone claims to be, there has to be something, at some point, that challenged them.

Since part of your time with this coach will be spent discussing your challenges, wouldn’t it be interesting to see how they handled their own sales challenges?

As a bonus, it might be refreshing to know that they’re human enough to have struggled!

In what ways do they dedicate themselves to continued and never ending improvement?

I think its not only important that a coach is dedicated to continually improving, I think it’s the best way to lead by (or perhaps even coach by) example.

Bonus points if they believe enough in the coaching mindset that they have their own coach!

What prompted them to become a coach?

If you ever want to know how passionate someone is about their livelihood, ask them point blank what made them do what they do.

General Sales Philosophy

It’s critical that your philosophies align with those of your coach’s or you will quickly find yourself in a situation where you aren’t being true to yourself.

There are actually people out there coaching philosophies such as “buyers are liars” or approaches that are over the top aggressive . . . run away, very fast dude!

Additionally, you will need to know where they stand on traditional selling methods vs. the newer “Sales 2.0” methodologies.

Let me put this another way; there are some who feel the cold call is dead and believe generating business through Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter etc is the way to go while there are others who believe in “smiling and dialing”.

It’s my humble opinion that all these cool things can live quite nicely together and that it should never be an “either or” choice!

Note: Make every effort to ensure that your potential coach is “living” their sales philosophies and not just talking about them.

Example: A self proclaimed “Cold Calling Guru” wanted to sell me a cold calling training program for a team I was managing. She left me two messages (that were extremely weak) and then gave up.

Coaching Program

How long is each session?

How many times per month do we have sessions?

Do they offer before or after hours scheduling options?

What does a typical session look like?

Important: There are some coaches who believe in leading you on a path of self discovery by asking you questions and offering zero guidance. You need to decide if that’s good enough or if you would prefer someone who will offer you some gems of wisdom as well!

Are there action items and is there accountability?

No coaching session is complete without getting “the action verbs going” otherwise you have no opportunity to try your new distinctions on for size!

What happens between sessions and are you available to me during this time should I have questions?

Let’s face it, sometimes things come up that are too pressing to wait for the next session. Will your coach be available or are they only available when the meter is running?


This may sound like an obvious question to ask, but there are many coaches who don’t charge per session, they charge you upfront for the entire program.


Do you need to sign a contract and if so, how do you call it a day for any reason, at any time?

So there you have it, several tips to help you select the sales coach that’s right for you.

For a free handy/dandy PDF with all these tips, click here!

To visit Paul’s new coaching page . . . click here!

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