Warning! Are you a Sales Leader or a Super Rep?

In the first blog of this two-part series we kicked things off with a story of how easy it can be to move into super dad (or super mom…) mode in our personal lives.

It was a simple lesson about AWARENESS.  Thanks coach Sue! :)

In Part 2, we will explore how DMs can keep their inner super rep from undermining coaching objectives while avoiding the awkwardness of a purely silent observer.


[PS:  Before you dig in, please know that you can click here to subscribe to the Sales Leader Gear blog and download a FREE PDF eBook version of both Parts 1 & 2 together along with a manager self assessment and leadership team discussion guide…check it out!]


Tom and his team at Next Level Performance use movie clips to generate conversations about leadership and coaching. There is a powerful scene in the cold-war thriller The Hunt for Red October that they use in their situational coaching programs.


Please excuse the brief vulgarity at the start.

During the briefing—his “sales pitch”—an eager and otherwise competent Jack Ryan lets his passion get the better of him as he challenges a 4-star General. Notice the silent coaching Admiral Greer provides his ‘sales rep’ at the 1:14 mark of the clip.Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.28.25 PM

The coach’s gesture (hand on his arm) together with Ryan’s regretful expression suggests Ryan knows he overstepped.

Yes, it’s Hollywood. But think about it. How many of us as coaches have been in the Admiral’s shoes during a field ride?

Imagine practicing the self-restraint the Admiral showed in the clip! The most enlightened coaches are tempted to channel their inner super rep and interject when they see a sales visit going sideways.


As we referenced in Part 1, as coaches we constantly balance two dynamic objectives: 1) achieve financial results; and 2) develop people.

Let’s be clear: there are a multitude of appropriate situations when a leader needs to vocally contribute during an office visit while pursuing the objectives above. Sometimes, however, an over-emphasis on one comes at the expense of the other.

Focus too much on achieving financial results and we end up doing the heavy lifting during a sales call—justifying our super rep actions with something that sounds like, “If I didn’t say something, we were going to miss the opportunity with the gold-level physician.”

The consequence?

Rescuing the sales rep from learning by doing.


Here are THREE TIPS that we’ve found instrumental in harnessing the inner super rep to achieve strong coaching success. We’d like to hear your additions to our short list below as well, just add a comment!


Determine in advance of an office visit how active you will be during the time when both you and the rep are in front of the physician or Physician Assistant.  Be REALLY specific. Share your intention with your sales rep before walking into the office.

What can guide your decision? Ask yourself: What coaching action—my active contribution, my silence, or a blend—will help the rep move further along the Situational Readiness curve from low competence to high self-reliance?

Just as your successful sales reps pre-call plan, we encourage to think through and plan your contribution to the call.


When you decide that supportive silence is the best way to coach, imagine there is a side-line between you and the rep: she is standing in the field of play; you are on the side-lines. She can play; you can’t.

In athletics it’s a sideline or something similar. In music a conductor leads from the dais. In stage acting, only actors occupy the stage during a performance. What if sales leaders could imagine a similar sideline during certain office visits?

Sure, during practice or rehearsal the line is nonexistent. In practice coaches are on the field whispering in the players’ ears, sometimes demonstrating specific actions. During the performance, however, this line is strictly enforced. However, they can still see the performance.


Mustering the strength to plan ahead and create a sideline during a sales call is a great first step, but the power and impact ultimately comes from consistent application.

If you don’t create a habit of staying behind the curtain in appropriate situations, the impact on performance will never come. And that hurts the business and the representative’s development!

For more thoughts on consistency and sales success, check out this post.

Let’s return to the Hollywood version of the Pentagon meeting. We can’t be sure if Admiral Greer determined prior to the Joint Chiefs briefing that he was going to remain silent and let his star analyst express his unconventional opinions.

But it’s fun to consider how any of us as coaches—when the situation calls for it—can intentionally remain silent and let our players play. Even if the result is a bump on the nose.

When we do, the learning will be theirs.

What is your favorite method for determining whether to actively contribute or remain silent during joint office visits? Leave us a comment below!

And don’t forget to download your FREE eBook of Parts 1&2 along with a manager self assessment and discussion guide by clicking on the banner below and signing up for the Sales Leader Gear blog!

Until next time,

Dave and Tom


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