The majority of coaching that takes place between the sales manager, or coach (if they aren’t the same person) and the salesperson is of the ‘deal coaching’ kind. In this situation, the coaching sessions will probably follow a joint meeting with a prospect, after which the coach asks questions relating to the goals and outcomes of the meeting. The questions should enable the salesperson to be guided to improved performance through a process of self-discovery. You can’t just tell a salesperson what to do and how to do it; the best way to make them learn something new is to let them “self-discover”. This self-discovered learning is then put into an individual action plan for the salesperson, which is reviewed at the next session.
While this individual self-discovery process has many benefits for the individual salesperson, there can be additional benefits for the team as a whole, by introducing the concept of community coaching.
The idea of community coaching, as with most of the precepts of coaching, stems from the worlds of sports and counseling. Although sports coaching would seem a good fit for community coaching, it isn’t, because the specific and different roles of the individuals in the team and the leadership role assumed by the coach, mean it is leader directed and not group directed. Community coaching is based on the self-directed results achieved by groups of from around 3 – 10 people interacting with each other to achieve applied learning.
The essential difference between one-to-one coaching and community coaching is that in one-to-one, you are often engaged in solving specific problems and indeed my solve the same or similar problems time after time, without learning the general concepts. Community coaching is much more about the ability to understand a concept and apply that learning to numerous situations.
While a community coaching session may have a coach as facilitator, the coach doesn’t guide the discussion, the participants do. The benefits of this are that the participants see that the learning is not specifically dependent on the coach, but on them. They see that the group has the expertise and creativity to initiate and sustain the learning process, in essence being able to self-manage the process.
The major benefits of Community Coaching are:
- The group will have more ideas than two people and this can provide more options for tackling the issues being discussed.
- Similar to a brainstorming session, as more ideas are provided, the possibility for novel and innovate solutions that cross-over to other areas is multiplied.
- By focusing on common issues, the group can create action plans and templates without the need for complex communications.
- With reduced reliance on the Coach, self-management and sharing of information is increased.
The concept of community though could and should involve far larger numbers when looking at more general issues, or those that are common across an organization or industry. Take commercial software as an example. The concept of social learning, involving forums, social networking, or other shared interactions can drive improvements in the design implementation and content, to everybody’s benefit.