Working in the OTB consultancy , I follow several processes of the companies we help, including hiring. And one thing that negatively impressed me was realizing that coachability is not a common term for those who are hiring.

You see, for a hiring to work, there must be alignment between companies and employees like Blue World City have, making both of them fall into a win-win situation. The employee gains a career opportunity and the company gains the chance to have an extra employee to deal with the challenges it faces.

What happens sometimes is that many managers want to hire a person who is ready, who does not need to be trained or who requires short training. This unwillingness to train and develop a new member turns out to be one of the main reasons for wrong hires.

In a hurry, they don’t even consider coachability, which should be a deciding factor in hiring.

How coachability defines who leaves and who stays on your team

Of course there are situations and situations. If you urgently need someone to step into the process, it makes sense to want nearly ready (and hard to find) members.

But hiring a less experienced member who will be trained to do the job offers great advantages. Between them:

  • The new member recognizes the organization’s effort to develop it, which makes them more motivated and engaged.
  • Strengthening of the relationship between the manager-employee, as the second starts to see the first as an expert.

It is clear that this member tends to take longer to enter the process, however he enters more refined by the modus operandi of the organization and the team.

All this because of a very common characteristic in less experienced people – coachability.

Coachability is a person’s ability to receive feedback and use it to improve performance.

A person with coachability will listen to feedback and respond like that.

Let’s think of a hypothetical situation. Imagine that your sales team has a new member who is not being disciplined in follow-ups, allowing some opportunities to cool down for no clear reason.

If the new member does not have coachability, the situation will unfold like this:

  • Day 01 – The manager gives the first feedback to the member and he says he will improve. The tone of voice of the conversation is calm, as it is the first time that the person receives this kind of feedback.
  • Day 08 – The manager realizes that several opportunities are still not being nurtured and asks the member what is happening. The level of conversation is no longer so relaxed, the tone and facial expression of the manager already betrays a clear dissatisfaction.
  • Day 15 – The manager assesses that, after the tough conversation, the member even nurtured some opportunities – but not all. He wonders if it’s worth keeping a collaborator who only gets things done when he gets hard feedback and puts up a Red Flag (a concern about the collaborator’s posture).
  • Day 22 – It is the last week of the month and the manager is concerned about the increasingly tight target. He analyzes why the opportunities are not moving and what can still be closed this month. One of the factors that accounts aren’t closing is the distance between the salesperson and the lead.
  • Day 30 – Last day of the month, the manager sits down with the team to do a retrospective of the past month. The goal was not met and one of the problems was the lack of nurturing of opportunities.

If you look at this hypothetical story, a member who lacks coachability will make the status quo stay the same forever.

The final consequence is that the expected results will not be achieved, which puts the manager and the employee at risk of dismissal.

Now look at the same problem situation, with a member who has coachability:

  • Day 01 – The manager gives the first feedback to the member and he says he will improve. The tone of voice of the conversation is calm, as it is the first time that the person receives this kind of feedback.
  • Day 08 – The manager realizes that nurturing an opportunity is no longer a problem for the new employee, but identifies that there may be an improvement in the speech during the follow-ups. He does some role playing with the member.
  • Day 15 – The employee feels technical and personal evolution, is more motivated and improving his performance.  The manager, who monitors the process, no longer has concerns about the team and puts into action other activities to reach the goal.
  • Day 22 – We are in the last week of the month. The manager trusts that the team is doing its best and the goal is really achievable. He has a well-defined sales process and is confident in the final conversion.
  • Day 30 – Last day of the month, the manager sits down with the team to do a SCRUM retrospective of the past month. The atmosphere is one of celebration, keeping the team motivated and challenged to reach the new goal.

The conclusion we can reach is that, when it comes to coachability, it is in hiring that it is decided who will be fired or not.

Of course, we still have to consider other factors such as profile, technical skills, etc. But I ask you to answer me a question. Do you really want a person on your team who is not able to improve after feedback?

Which is more important: soft skills or hard skills?

First of all, it is important to differentiate between soft skills and hard skills. As a general rule, the first are characteristics such as sociability and the second, technical skills.

Coachability is an example of a soft skill. Knowledge of SPIN Selling and GPCTBA C&I is a great example of hard skill.

I’ve always believed in the adaptability and evolution process as a way to improve processes and organizations, so this is a soft skill that I appreciate. Staying in the status quo for too long, for me, is a prelude to death.

If you don’t analyze coachability in hiring, it will probably end like this

The truth is that hardly anyone is fired for lack of hard skills. Usually, the hiring itself no longer allows this type of candidate to join the team.

But, almost always, the lack of one or more soft skills gives rise to dismissal. Stay alert. 😉

coachability in practice

Here at Capital Smart City we have the coaching process very deeply rooted. Every member of the consulting team has to spend twice a week and for 30 minutes for coaching. This every week!

You can learn more about our training here: Sales Coaching – Rules of thumb for training your team

Training is scheduled on the schedule and we don’t allow ourselves to do anything else at that time. I mean, this case is for a senior member. A member who has just joined goes through a much more constant feedback process.

This is very important because we insert into the culture the openness and acceptance of feedback as something recurrent at all levels. In this way we evolve all members of the organization and no one is left without direction.

Another internal practice that we always take to clients is to have role-playing sessions   with all members, regardless of the step in the funnel. With the right feedbacks, it’s definitely the best way to line up the speech.

A case of coachability

As I write this text, I have a really cool case to bring you.

A few weeks ago, I was training an intern who had zero sales history. The first day of training was also her first day at the company. In other words, she was also at the beginning of training for the client’s platform.

I agreed with the manager that she would have more intense training, as I wanted as soon as possible to put her to run the process. And already in the first role playing sessions I noticed a good coachability of this collaborator, because every time I gave feedback she used it to perform better.

To learn more about role playing, read:  Role playing in sales – How can newbies sell after a week?

As she got better, I became more and more difficult in prospecting and  she continued to perform well. That’s because, whenever I increased the level and she couldn’t convert, I gave her feedback and she applied it.

This feature made her develop her hard skills faster and today she is starting to break as a prospector.

That’s because members with good coachability not only perform better, they also take better advantage of opportunities and generate faster results.

But after all, how to test coachability?

Testing coachability is very simple, just choose an activity that you have mastered, try to teach that person and validate whether or not they improved your performance.

When we’re talking about sales, what I usually use before hiring a member is to do a sales dynamic with feedback.

I take an object and ask the person to sell it to me. It can be a simple object: a mug, a pen, a bottle of water…

It could be anything! 😀

One or more of the following feedbacks will be validated for 80% of candidates:

  1. Try to investigate my day with questions before, to find out where this object can fit into my life (customer centric selling).
  2. Improve your tone of voice as it is low, mournful, unconfident, etc.
  3. Try to challenge my scenario if I believe I don’t need it.

After giving feedback, redo the dynamic and see if the candidate performs better. If he doesn’t perform well, it means he doesn’t have coachability.

A second activity to check if he has coachability or if he is a fast learner is to take a game he doesn’t know, explain how it is played and play some games against each other.

Choose a game with fast spins and go, little by little, giving feedbacks.

In the meantime, watch: does it progress to your level or make you feel challenged? If yes it’s a good sign.


Here at OTB, we value processes that generate good results. That’s why we always talk about the importance of having a clear sales process.

Hiring is no different. If you hire wrong, it’s likely to impact your organization’s climate, culture and results for months.

Learning faster is adapting faster. Coachability is essential in high-performance teams, as everyone develops quickly, pushing the team’s level up.

Do you have coachability? Have you identified anyone on your team who has or doesn’t?

Tell me in the comments if you liked this content and if you want more texts like this! Or send me an email at marketing. 🙂