SOCRATES COACHING TIPS for sales managers


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 Telling is not selling and telling is not coaching either. In fact, it’s the exact opposite : the more you tell someone something, the less he/she will believe in what you say, and the more he/she will discard you as being worth listening to…
If I tell you “I am a funny guy”, you will probably think that I am arrogant,  BUT,
If I tell you a joke that makes you laugh, you will probably think that …I am a funny guy!
People BUY (your ideas) for their own reasons and for their own reasons only, not yours…
Of all professionals, sales people are some of the toughest “buyers” you can find on the planet because they need to grow every year in order to grow their sales every year, to become more productive year after year.  For them it’s a matter of survival, which is why they need constant coaching to adapt to their changing environment, competition and market.
Why coaching rather than training?
  1. First because in order to embrace better behaviors that will bring about better results for your company in the long run, they need to constantly change their thinking
  2. Second, because selling has never been an easy job and it has not become any easier in today’s environment. Sales people have developed a natural resistance to what they might consider “fluffy advice” from the various people who try to train them “on the surface”.
They will not buy your latest and greatest ideas just because you are the best motivational trainer there is in the industry and not  even because you are their boss :
the TRUTH  is
They need to be SOLD
What you need to do in order  to coach them effectively is to dive really deep into their thinking so that you can make a better and more significant impact on them and on their future behavior.
Sounds scary doesn’t it? but “lecturing” them instead is the worse possible communication technique you can use.
Using the “value added inspection techique” (advanced coaching technique) is a great skill to first tap into someone else’s thinking and then to  influence it, but  FOR THEIR OWN REASONS, and for their own reasons only,  not yours.
I have learned over the years that this skill was actually “invented”  about 1700 years ago and is best described by what is called the Socratic Dialogue.

Socrates was a master at helping others discover “the truth” by themselves, learning from it,  and growing their confidence from it as well.

I will post in my next BLOG a summary of how he helps an UNEDUCATED SLAVE to discover the length of a  square which surface is the double of the original square (i am not making this up…as Dave Barry would say)
I know it may sound a little heavy but nobody said that powerful Socratic questioning was easy (which is why most people take the shortcut of TELLING  instead of coaching).
When it comes to people, patience, questioning and listening skills go a long way and bring much better results than shortcuts.
As you will soon see, mastering the value added inspection technique becomes quite simple once you understand the process of good Socratic questioning…
So what did you feed your lions with today?Did you feed their minds with goals, numbers and deadlines that they need to meet in order for them  to succeed (or so you TELL them…)or,

Did you feed their minds with uncomfortable questions which they do not have fast and easy answers to:

  • Questions that force them to think deep,
  • Questions that may challenge their initial thinking, their beliefs or even themselves,
  • Questions that can help them discover new answers which were yet unknown to them
  • Questions that can change their original thinking to a better one
  • Questions that will eventually help them get rid of old unproductive behaviors
  • Questions that can finally bring them stronger confidence in themselves

What do you think?


Make it a great month and look soon for my next BLOG on the SOCRATIC dialogue that brings an uneducated slave to discover Pythagoras Theorem ( I am not making this up….who said sales management could not be inspiring, highly educational AND fun?)



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About Philippe Le Baron

is the authority on sales force productivity and sales management effectiveness. He's a sought-after corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like ORACLE, NCR and EMC. He's an accomplished entrepreneur. Philippe's focus is to get your new reps as productive as possible as fast as possible. His clients benefit from his revolutionary online programs developed under the

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