Do You Coach Or Do You Compete? The 7 Most Destructive Styles of Coaching

Do You Coach Or Do You Compete The 7 Most Destructive Styles of Coaching

Some managers are terrible at coaching. Do you think you are one of these managers?

They are often unaware of this, but they have a terrible job. They ‘compete’ with sales reps and don’t give constructive feedback that will encourage them to change their behavior.

Although they may be well-intentioned, “competitive coaches” can do more harm than good. They can cause frustration, resentment, and even disillusionment to the rep.

What does it mean to be a competitive coach?

Simply put, the competitive manager is one who gives feedback that tends to elevate their knowledge and skills in selling while decreasing the efforts or skill of the sales rep. The competitive coach will often point out how the manager would have done things differently or better.

These are just a few examples of the types of coaching that can be used to help you understand.

Style #1: The Tell Style

Competitive coaches tend to have a “tell” approach to giving feedback. They are often direct and blunt with their feedback. While natural methods can be effective at times, the problem with the “tell” approach is that they rarely help sales reps change their selling behaviors. It reveals flaws that embarrass and annoy the agent.

Style #2: Kid Style, Chide, De-ride, and Kid Style

Managers may use a variety of methods to coach their employees, including chiding, laughing, or de-riding. You might hear Kelly say, “Kelly, how the hell was THAT?” Or “Cathy, aren’t you kidding me?” That one could have been closed by a seven-year-old. Although the manager may not mean to be harsh or demeaning, it is what they are aiming for. Reps tend to be defensive, whether they are speaking out or not.

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Style #3: Style in Nit Pick

Even if the call is exceptional, competitive coaches feel they must give feedback. They will always find something that can be improved or better. This approach can raise the perceived value, intelligence, and savvy of the manager, even if it doesn’t lower the rep’s skill or ability.

Style #4: Schizophrenic Style

Although it has been used for many years, the “sandwich” technique of giving feedback to competitive coaches is often discouraged. This method states that constructive feedback should be sandwiched with a few positive comments. Example: “Jen, your opening statement was great… but I fear the questioning and qualifying need some work. You didn’t get to the core of the client’s requirements. You did try to get close, however.

The natural killer is the ‘but. The rep is confused. The rep is confused when he hears the positive comment, but they wait for the shoe to drop when the manager says “but”. The manager says “but,” and the rep quickly whips out the positive. Or the broker hears only the positive comments and congratulates himself. Rarely is an agent able to emotionally distinguish between the two types?

Non-competitive coaches give constructive feedback or positive feedback and let the call stand on its merits.

Style #5: The Rhetorical style

Competitive sales coaches often use rhetorical questions to motivate their reps and give them feedback, just like sports coaches. “You want to win, don’t ya?” You want to win ’em all, right? “You don’t want to be at the bottom of this heap, do you?” “Why didn’t you ask for the referee?” The manager isn’t looking for answers. She is simply pointing out the error and believing it will dramatically improve sales performance. Most reps will just continue to listen to the same old rhetoric.

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Coaching is a two-way street. Good coaches and managers ask questions and wait for feedback. This interactive approach allows reps to understand and learn.

Style #6: Personal anecdotes Style

Many sales managers were once sales reps. While personal gems can be valuable at times, they are mostly just war stories. They tell the broker how great the manager is and how much the rep could have if they followed your advice.

Style #7: Heaping Style

The manager is the final coach. He or she will ‘heap’ on feedback until the information becomes too overwhelming for the rep. This is often the case with rookies. The manager gives feedback on every aspect of the call, including the opening, questioning, presentation, objection handling, and close. Tele-sales reps are left feeling discouraged and lost.

A coach who is goodwill focus on one or two areas where constructive feedback is needed. These areas should be taught and mastered by the rep before the coach can move on to the next call.


Competitive managers are not bad people who have the plot to undermine their sales reps. Many competitive managers lack the ability to coach their sales reps effectively because they have not been trained how to provide feedback that is helpful in changing their selling behaviors. If you feel your coaching style needs to be improved, check out the article below.