Coachability: Why It’s Important in Football and Your Sales Force


Coachability: Why It’s Important in Football and Your Sales Force

As we round out the dog days of summer, most of us have two things on our minds:

  • Getting our sales force back on track from the summertime lull, and
  • The start of the football season

These two things might seem unrelated at first glance. But in fact, the success of both of your teams—your favorite NFL or college team and your sales team—will be heavily influenced by how coachable the players are on or in the field.   

Coachability: A Key to High-Performance

Having spent his entire life playing, coaching, and offering commentary on football, ESPN football analyst Herm Edwards knows a thing or two about effective coaching – and about what makes a player coachable.

“There’s an attitude that comes with being coachable – they listen, they learn, they have the right attitude about performance.” Edwards said. He goes on to connect coachability to self-awareness:

“You can drill ‘em, you can focus on footwork, but if they don’t have awareness about themselves, they’re not going to be successful.” (source)

This is something that probably hits home for many sales leaders. We can go on the joint sales calls, give the correct feedback, and coach until we’re blue in the face. But if our salespeople aren’t receptive to the coaching, our efforts will be made in vain.

Are Your Salespeople Coachable?

Ideally, every member of your sales team will have a high degree of coachability. That means they’re committed to their own professional development, and willing to accept feedback. It’s also important that they have the capacity to get to the skill level required for high performance in the role.

According to a study by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, sales performance is highest when salespeople are highly coachable, highly competitive, and under transformational leadership.

If you find you’re spinning your wheels with some of your salespeople because they aren’t responding to coaching, it may be time to reassess their fit for your team. But before you completely replace your salesforce, be honest with yourself about your sales coaching efforts. Work to improve them—and adapt them to each person—if necessary.

How You Can Hire for Coachability

Signing an NFL player for the season isn’t cheap, and neither is hiring a new salesperson (especially when they turn out to be the wrong fit).

To avoid the monetary loss as well as the lost time, energy, and momentum, you should make sure your sales candidate has a coachable attitude before you sign them to your team. The most effective ways to determine that is through targeted interview questions, and the use of a comprehensive personal assessment.

Determine coachability by asking the following sales interview questions:

  • “Can you tell me about a recent example of feedback you received from a manager? What did you do with the advice?”
  • What are some of your personal and professional goals?” (You’ll want to determine if they are focused on continued improvement)
  • “Can you describe a challenge you were faced with in your previous position, and what you learned from it?”

These questions will help you determine if a sales candidate is likely to be receptive to coaching and new ways of doing things. But as we know, the person you see in the interview isn’t always the same person you end up working with once you’ve hired them.

To get around the interview façade and back your gut feelings up with science, have your candidates take a whole person assessment, such as Brooks Talent Index®. 

TriMetix combines three assessment sciences into one system. By measuring a person’s behavior style, motivators, and personal skills, you can determine if they are a good fit for the open position—and whether they have a coachable attitude.

Use Assessment Results to Measure and Improve Self-Awareness

As Herm Edwards noted, a high-level of self-awareness is key to performance and success. The Brooks Talent Index reveals an individual’s clarity of personal strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and desire to improve. Simply put, it shows whether the individual is likely to be coachable or not.

The tool goes beyond revealing this information about a sales candidate, though. Sharing the results of the assessment with a new hire or current team member immediately improves their sense of self-awareness—uncovering the blind spots they never knew existed.

The reports also reveal the best ways to motivate and communicate with a new hire or team member. That gives sales managers a tool to target and deliver their coaching in the most effective way.


When a player is willing to listen to instruction, he or she begins to improve their level of play, which, in turn, improves the play of the team. Team members with a high level of coachability are always striving to improve their level of performance—and that desire to improve will help them be prepared for the big game…or big sale.

Be the best coach you can be for your sales team by learning the sales leadership strategies that get to the heart of motivation and performance improvement. Visit our upcoming Sales Managment Symposium, and leave with an actionable plan for coahcing your sales team to success. Learn more


NOTE: Our sales training tools are designed to make your life easier. Use them to your advantage.

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World-class sales managers are no different…


Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Group Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

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