Optimize Your Coaching Time with the Quadrant Coaching Method – Part 2

This article is a continuation of one we discussed last week. In the past, we’ve referred to it as “strategic coaching” or “OtherCentered® leadership,” but the idea we’re exploring here, called “Quadrant Coaching” is the same. 

Quadrant coaching is based on the two biggest barriers that stand in the way of sales coaching: 

  1. motivating reps
  2. finding time to coach

We’ll unpack specific strategies for coaching each of the four types of sales reps we discussed in Part 1

If you prefer to take this on the go and listen to a conversation on the topic, feel free to check out sALES with ASLAN podcast episode 83:


Reviewing the Quadrant

Remember, coaching does not equal managing. We define coaching as observing behavior, aligning on what needs to be developed, and then practicing. 

When it comes to coaching your team, there are 4 types of reps that make up a quadrant (hence the name of the coaching strategy), along the axes of “results” and “desire”:

  • Independents – These reps are above the line in “results.” They are hitting their number, but they are to the left of the “desire” line and don’t want to change. 
  • Detractors – These reps are below the “results” line (not hitting their number) and don’t want to change either. 
  • Achievers – These reps are above the line in results, and in desire. They are doing well and want to get even better. 
  • Strivers – Strivers are below the line in results, but to the right in desire. They want to change and will put in the effort.


Strategies for Coaching (or Not) 

OtherCentered® leaders adjust their coaching strategy for each team member. Let’s get into it with an outline of each type of rep and the best strategy for sales managers to employ:


The Achievers

These reps are hitting their number, but also want to continue to improve. Oftentimes, sales leaders will ignore these reps when it comes to coaching, but also give them special attention in other ways. They assume these reps “have it all figured out.”

But this is a mistake – don’t ignore your Achievers, they are your high performers. They want to be challenged, and if they don’t see the opportunity for growth within your team and your company, they may take their talents elsewhere. It’s your role to challenge them to accomplish even more and help them do so. 

  • Time: Low

As for time allotment when it comes to your coaching practice, don’t spend too much time with your Achievers. If we use “high, “medium,” and “low” as benchmarks, Achievers fall into the “low” category. Your other reps require a bit more hand holding and time from you. 

  • Potential barriers: Nothing new to share with them, no new ideas, stagnant feeling, etc. 

There are several possible barriers/ challenges for managers when coaching an Achiever (see above). The key is to look for other people to mentor them, find someone who can challenge them, look for opportunities for them to develop. Keep them focused on the next step in their career and how you can get there together. Stay involved and keep them hungry. 

  • Focus on: Selling strategy, presentations in complex situations, higher level/ complex selling ideas, (not as much “heavy lifting” with basic skills).


The Strivers

Strivers want to get better, they are high in “desire,” but this is not yet reflected in the results they produce. They currently fall below the “results” line, but want to improve. This is your biggest opportunity as a sales coach. These reps want to practice, they are hungry. This is where your time investment in coaching will pay off. 

  • Time: High
  • Potential barriers: Getting frustrated with the time (and backslides) it takes to improve and therefore you need a myriad of activities to practice. 
  • Focus on: Basic skills, prospecting, writing emails, conducting discovery meetings, etc.  Remember to focus on one capability at a time and not all at once.


The Independents & Detractors

As a reminder, Independents are hitting their number but want to be left alone. Often with Independents, they may be doing well at the moment, but the market is changing and what they are doing may no longer work. 

Detractors are not hitting their number and they don’t want to change. They may be in denial, blaming someone else, or even the market, for their failure to hit their number. 

In order to simplify information and easily align on strategy, we can group our Independent and Detractor reps into the same category. We’ll discuss four specifics for reaching these two groups of reps, but the first piece is key: do not coach them.

Time: Low

Potential barriers: 

  • Relationship – there is a problem in their relationship with you and/or the organization.
  •  Ego – they have a problem admitting they need to improve and/or struggle to accept help.
  • Competing belief – They don’t believe they need to make the changes you are suggesting, or they have a competing belief. They think you are asking them to do something the wrong way.
  • Payoff – They feel like the effort required to change is not worth it – that there is no real payoff.

Change is hard. But it is a waste of time to coach people that don’t want to change, (have no desire), because desire determines development. 

As we’ve previously outlined, there are three hats that a sales manager can wear:

  • Lead for desire.
  • Manage for productivity. 
  • Coach for capability. 

For your Independents and Detractors, do not coach; instead, put on your “leadership hat” and figure out how to help your reps intrinsically develop the desire to change. 

I sat down with our CEO Tom Stanfill, who has put together 4 steps to spark the desire to change within your team members:


1 – Restate Your Role

Your role is to help them meet their goal. It’s not like a teacher/ student relationship or an authority figure trying to keep their subordinate in line. You, as a sales manager, are there to support them. 

Remind them of this. 

You don’t need to be the “bad guy.” The line (results) is the common enemy that you both want to overcome. Instead of, “You’re in trouble,” say to your Detractor:

“As long as you are above that results line (hitting your number) and playing within the rules of this organization, you can do whatever you want. My goal is just to help you get what you want.”

Results are non-negotiable. The manager’s job is to help the rep do their job: get results. You are on the same team.


2 – Don’t Speak, but “Take the Trip®”

At ASLAN, we use “Take the Trip” in every sales training we deliver. You have a point of view and they have a point of view. Taking the trip is about making the effort to uncover, understand, and be able to articulate the other person’s perspective. 

If your rep does not want to change, there is a reason why – there is something you don’t understand, and your goal is to do so. 

Let your rep speak and validate their POV. Have conversations until you have that “oh” moment when you get clarity for their reason. Once you have it, feed it back to them: restate what they’ve told you until they respond, “Exactly.”

This lets your rep know that they are heard and validated. When this exchange occurs, you’ve just set yourself up for the best possible way to communicate to your rep why it may be in their best interest to change.


3 – “Drop the Rope®”

Instead of trying to “pull” them in your direction and force them to change, release the pressure. Say something like, 

“Listen, my goal is for you to be successful. You can get there however you want. This is what I have found works ________, this is what other people have found works______, but if you want to try that _____, feel free. But be open about your results and honest about what you’re seeing – if it works, do it. Again, I’m not saying this is the only way. What I’m trying to do is help you achieve what you need to achieve.”

This approach is learner-led; the rep is driving development. If they’re not driving, you’re wasting your time. 

“When there is tension, meaning when you’re trying to pull someone to your position and get them to do something, the focus is on the tension and not on the truth.” 

Tom Stanfill, ASLAN CEO

You cannot force your rep to change. Instead, acknowledge, Drop the Rope(R), and witness your rep’s receptivity skyrocket.


4 – Ask “What do you want to do?”

Ask your rep to actually answer that question. After you Drop the Rope, get them to verbalize their decision (to change or not). 

It’s about the clarity of making that decision – once they make it, they will own it. It’s like a fork in the road. They need to pick a path. They can decide to not change, to leave; or they can decide to change. But either way, a decision needs to be made so that you can move forward towards change and success.


Wrapping it Up

For reps, figure out who you are: Achiever, Striver, Independent, Detractor. Be honest about it. 

Managers, be strategic about how you spend your time coaching. Ultimately, people have to want to change in order to do so. You can influence your team, but you can’t force them. We see this all the time with leadership: in our quest for control, we give up influence. 

And influence is what you really want – the ability to influence your team and help them hit the numbers and achieve their goals.


What Now?

As VP of Marketing at ASLAN Training & Development, Scott’s passion is to share our solution with those in need and those who seek sales transformation. Find him on: Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

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