The Software Sales Star Coaching Model

The Software Sales Star Coaching Model - Basketball team

The Key to Maximizing Sales Performance Management for Software and SaaS Sales Teams

Someone once told me that that only a few professions require constant motivation.

Athletes and salespeople fall into this category. Leading a sales team is not very different from coaching a football team.

People tell me they got into sales because: “I’m a people person. I like people!” That may not be the best reason to get into sales. Most people who’ve been in sales for more than an hour would laugh at the suggestion that selling is a good place to get your emotional needs met.

Selling is stressful. Salespeople are particularly vulnerable to burnout because:

  • They place unusually high expectations on themselves.
  • It’s obvious when they don’t meet their goals.
  • They have a high need for social interaction, but they face a steady diet of rejection.
  • Instead of supportive work groups, there is enormous pressure among their peers to win.

As a result, salespeople (like athletes) are particularly vulnerable to emotional ups and downs.

Sales performance management is really less like managing and more like coaching athletes.

sales star - sales coaching method
The Software Sales Star Model
Maximizing Software Sales Performance

Looking After the Whole Person: A Sales Performance Management Model That Works

At West Point, I became familiar with the concept of leading the “whole person.”

Great coaches coach the whole person.

Optimum sales performance management focuses on five dimensions of performance.


As with athletes, morale either drives competitive performance or undercuts the ability to compete.

In salespeople, morale is driven by how deeply and profoundly they feel about:

  • Themselves (self-esteem)
  • The company
  • The opportunity


A person’s current beliefs dictate the outcomes they will achieve, because their actions are a manifestation of their beliefs.


Activity is about how a person uses time. Strong sales performance management practices recognize that activity does not equate to productivity, especially in sales.

Activity is productive if it is driven by:

  • A personal sales goal
  • A personal sales plan
  • Goal-focused action
  • Behavior traps in the environment that make it easier to do the right things and hard to do the wrong thing


Ability is based on knowledge and skills, and for salespeople it includes:

• Product/capability knowledge—Knowledge and understanding of my company’s core competencies
• Customer insight—An in-depth understanding of my customer’s world
• Mastery of a proven sales methodology


In all acts of persuasion, style trumps substance. Style is based on a person’s:

  • Personal presence
  • Vocal persona

basketball court - Sales Star Coaching

Most Sales Performance Management Is Ineffective

Managers usually focus on revenue, and it can be detrimental. Saying “We don’t have enough business in our pipeline!” in an angry or bewildered tone always does more harm than good.
Likewise, just measuring Activity (without regard to Ability) can be counterproductive. Encouraging my team to make more calls without helping them make better calls is like encouraging them to dig a hole faster with a bowling ball.

If in the process of squeezing more performance out of my team I instill a sense of desperation, I negatively impact their Morale and harm their ability to perform.

Too often managers act like scorekeepers talking about things that have already happened and can’t be influenced.

You cannot manage outcomes. You can only react.

Stop ineffective sales performance management practices and start adding value!


“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”

— Peter Drucker


Superior sales performance management requires vigilant and unwavering focus on the five key performance dimensions: Morale, Beliefs, Activity, Ability, and Style. We’ll consider each of these dimensions in forthcoming posts.