Coaching the Sales Leader - Raising awareness, sequencing actions
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Coaching the Sales Leader – Raising awareness, sequencing actions

- Venkataraman Subramanyan

It was a balmy weekday afternoon in Singapore, and I was enjoying a coffee with the COO of one of technology majors – she had just taken over, and wanted to ensure that she left an imprint in Asia, when she gets back after a 2 year stint, back to Germany. 

She was an accomplished sales leader with significant wins to her credit and had been seconded to this role for her to build her perspectives on managing across cultures, as also showcase her ability to lead a diverse team across Asia, to their next level of potential. After a few minutes of small talk, we got down to discussing her observations over the past few weeks. 

“Why is sales forecasting such a big challenge in Asia?” she asked. “Right up to two days before quarter close, we had everybody committing and “Poof”, one third of the committed business slipped to next quarter. The sad part is, it is a fortnight since, and none of those deals have come in” 

I decided to take a coaching approach to the conversation. “What is your sense of the level of trust within your organization, when it comes to forecasting?” I asked. Stephanie was quiet as she pondered the question. “Come to think of it, some of our managers still follow a top down approach to forecasting – your forecast should meet budget for the quarter, and no questions asked. That approach used to work for us in the past, but I am now getting the feeling that it perhaps is counterproductive” 

“What should be different, Stephanie?” I asked. “Well, for a start, I think that every manager needs to have an open conversation around forecasting. They need to build that trust with their teams in having an open conversation and to build their maturity to have the hard conversations in a soft way” 

“Excellent, Stephanie”, I said. I looked around and it had started to rain – nothing to be surprised about in Singapore. It was now time to build a bit of challenge in our conversation. 

“How are your leaders leading by example on the behaviors you expect from the Field?”. Stephanie was looking directly into my eyes to check if I was being sarcastic or condescending – after about 30 seconds, she realized that I was genuinely asking this question for her to be successful. I waited in silence for her to respond. “That’s the problem, Venkat – with so much restructuring over the past 2 years, we have two kinds of leaders; those who are in the command and control mode and those in the “let me show it to you” mode. I am not sure if my leaders are leading by example on the kinds of behaviors we expect from our Field. In fact, my Field tells me that our leaders talk too much, and our customers sometimes get annoyed by them. Tell me, what should I do, Venkat?” 

It was obvious that Stephanie wanted me to make some recommendations. As a coach, I had a choice to make – just jump in with my set of recommendations, or draw out more of Stephanie’s potential. I decided to do the latter. 

” I would be most happy to share, Stephanie. Before I do that, I have a couple of more questions for you”.

“What else has been surprising for you in these past few weeks in Asia?” She smiled “Know what, what is amazing is the number of people sitting around in offices in all of the subsidiaries – we are just not spending enough time with customers” 

I smiled back “How are your internal processes saving time for the Field?” 

She took a big gulp of the coffee and leaned back. “Quite the opposite, our internal processes have not kept pace with the speed our customers require. Come to think of it, it is our Partner organization that suffers the most – that linkage to partners and joint execution is coming through as a challenge. In fact, I believe that our internal processes are keeping us away from our customers and partners” 

“Great observation, Stephanie. Given what we have discussed so far, how would you sequence your next steps?”

She smiled “Goddamn it, Venkat – you make me think too much” I smiled back “That’s my job – I want you and your organization to be successful” 

End of conversation excerpt – and a few questions for those of you who have tolerated this exchange for so long 🙂 

  1. As a Sales Leader, do you see the gap between your Gold Standard and Field execution? To address this gap, where would you start first?
  2. If the millions of dollars you have spent on Sales Transformation projects are not showing results, what is the interface you should fix first?
  3. How are you giving back one day every week, for your Field to spend more time with customers/partners?
  4. What is your Sales legacy? 

Keep the conversation going. Mail me at and lets’ elevate this profession further!!


Venkataraman Subramanyan is a Global Leadership Development Expert & Sales Coach. He is the Founder and CEO of Tripura Multinational. Venkat’s mission is to touch and transform a hundred million lives by 2025, and a billion lives by 2030. With over 30 years of experience, Venkat is passionate about 2 things – Leadership Transformation and Sales Acceleration. His trademarked deal qualification framework is licensed worldwide by organizations and filters over $3Billion in deals annually. He is an accredited member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Tripura Multinational is a dynamic sales organization dedicated to empowering sales professionals and organizations to achieve unparalleled success. Originally established as a platform to address skill gaps in the sales industry, Tripura has evolved into a multi-faceted entity that offers comprehensive engagements for Sales Managers and Sales Leaders. Through the transformative power of Sales Coaching, Tripura enables sales organizations to elevate their performance from good to great and ultimately reach a world-class level. Our approach focuses on optimizing sales skills, management expertise, and leadership capabilities, helping clients plan more effectively, qualify leads better, orchestrate sales processes seamlessly, and expand their business with confidence. 

Our organisation is the trusted choice of market leaders across various industries and segments, relying on our expertise to elevate their performance to new heights. Recognized for our ability to enhance excellence, we are entrusted with the task of making the client’s best even better.

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