Mastering a Coaching Mindset for PreSales Leaders

As a leader on any team, you know coaching is critical to improving performance of individuals on the team. What then, is a coaching mindset? What does it mean, and how can it help you become a stronger leader and influencer on your team?


The Coaching Mindset


Before we dive into the coaching mindset, what does a lack of coaching mindset look like? Can you relate to any of the scenarios below?

  1. You’re a committed and productive manager, but it’s come at a huge personal cost of long days and short weekends. Spending too much time stuck in the minutiae of day-to-day management. If only your PreSales team were capable of taking more ownership and responsibility for their work.

  2. The PreSales team feels dis-empowered and lacks a can-do attitude. Some are struggling with motivation. You’re there to support them but strongly feel they have to learn to help themselves too.

  3. Too much of your time is spent managing downwards rather than upwards and sideways. You need to focus on elevating yourself and your team by having influence with your ‘C’ level.

  4. How can you build someone back up in the best way possible after a crushing demo disaster so that they learn fast and move on?


Picture a working day where you could solve all of the above. The team is self-motivated and the high touch conversations are meaningful, productive and leading to winning more business. Your team is respected by sales, asks insightful qualification questions of their sales rep and is recognized as fundamental assets to your organisation. All of this and more can be achieved by creating a culture of trust, ownership and openness by mastering how to have powerful coaching conversations?


Why Coaching?


Developing a coaching leadership style embeds resilience and resourcefulness; long term behavioral change that leads to improvement in the PreSales team’s ability to impact bottom-line results.


Almost twenty-years since becoming a coach, I have watched as the science of coaching has caught up with my experience of coaching. There is now extensive proof that our neural pathways are changed through the power of coaching, that sustainable behavioral change can be made through the power of coaching and that by mastering a coaching mindset as leaders, we can create a ‘real and measurable difference’.


Coaching FAQ's


Below are five most common questions about coaching I’ve been asked over the years by PreSales and sales leaders:


1. What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Mentoring is sharing your experience, wisdom and offering guidance. Coaching is partnering with the coachee in a thought-provoking, pragmatic and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. In a coaching conversation you don’t give advice or push your personal agenda.


2. Why is it so important to hold back from giving advice when you know the answer?


That’s what you’ve been trained to do and you’re an expert. Great demos and discovery meetings sell value, solve problems and take the customer down a predetermined path that shows off your solution at its best. Thought leadership is perfect here. It’s what you want when you’re in sales mode.


When it comes to coaching, jumping in and giving advice too soon stops the coachee from digging deep, uncovering what’s holding them back and self-awareness. You may have given them the answer in the short run but missed an opportunity for deeper learning. Promoting coaching conversations creates a culture of self-reliance, longer term benefits, curiosity and thinking outside the box.


3. Is everyone coachable?


I will be controversial and answer this differently. There are many different coaching frameworks and tools, but not all coaching methodologies and tools suit everyone. My R.I.S.E.N™ methodology does work with PreSales leaders because it calibrates with this audience’s style of learning and mindset.


As a skilled coach I have learnt that anyone, no matter how skeptical, can be coached. In fact the most profound coaching experience is watching someone open up, drop their guard and make big leaps in their career and life. However, it takes time and practice to become confident in your personal coaching ability.


4. Can a leader be a coach?


Rather than a leader becoming a personal coach I would position it as leaders developing a coaching mindset. For sure a leader can be a great team and personal coach.


The only caveat is that most of us have a mental mindset trap that may cause recurring issues in our lives and careers. Some issues are not suitable areas for a manager to help with. Instead I would advise signposting to an external coach.


5. What if I don’t have enough time to coach each individual person?

I would recommend team and systemic coaching. “Systemic team coaching is a process by which a team coach works in partnership with a whole team, both when they are together and when they are apart, in order to help them both improve their collective performance and how they work together, and also how they develop their collective leadership to more effectively engage with all their key stakeholder groups to jointly transform the wider business and co-create value for all their stakeholders” (Hawkins, 2011 & 2014)


Mastering Coaching Conversations

The R.I.S.E.N™ coaching conversations model gives PreSales leaders the mindset and tools to motivate and develop their people to stay ahead of the curve.


Result or outcome of the coaching intervention

Issue the coachee is experiencing

System organisational influences

Explore different scenarios

Nailed the next steps to action


PreSales leaders who coach ‘pull’ – they don’t push by solving someone’s problem for them. Helping their people take ownership of their roles and responsibilities by solving their own problems.


“It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”  ― Albert Einstein




Salma Shah is the founder of Mastering Your Power. She is an executive systemic coach and trainer. Her coaching methodology R.I.S.E.N ™ based on neuroscience is a simple model which cuts straight to the heart of overcoming challenges and problems to achieve fast results and big audacious goals. Applicable for individual and pre-sales team coaching this is a most valuable tool to add to your leadership toolkit.


Before starting her coaching and training business in 2006 she had gained over 15 years of leadership, transformation and commercial experience. Predominately in pre-sales and sales working for Oracle, Peoplesoft and Infor. Described by her coaching clients as the ‘VP Maker’. She also designed several training programs specifically targeted at pre-sales. Salma is on the board of the ICF (International Coaching Federation)


Connect with Salma on LinkedIn or email salma@salmashah.com.

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