I love to golf, and at one time, I carried a card in my wallet documenting a respectable handicap of 17! Improving my performance from a frustrating “I can’t break 100!” to feeling comfortable playing with more finessed golfers required significant coaching.

Coaching is also a vital element of sales transformation. The central question should always focus on the objective: Are we trying to fix a problem, or are we trying to promote lasting change? To address the latter question effectively, we need to offer practical, reusable tools designed to build skills and foster a common basis for behavior change. The CORE acronym is a helpful tool to provide coaches and their team members the pathway to Connect, Observe, Review and Evaluate development progress.

Enhance your organization’s sales performance and build the bench strength you need by embedding a CORE coaching culture:

1. Connect

The first step to implementing a cohesive coaching culture is to connect two variables: first, the expectations of the team member and the coach, and second, the organization’s business objectives.

Coaching requires trust, and trust is built when both parties set achievable expectations. When the coach takes the time to connect the expectations of the team member and the objectives of the organization, they establish a common goal for effecting change. The team member can then see how their ability to improve performance is consistent with the change needed to advance the organization’s strategy. To complete this connection, the coach should initiate a dialogue focused on the resources needed to reach the intended goal.

2. Observe

Step two in CORE coaching involves a necessary reality check. What has the coach observed while watching the team member? How does that current state measure against the future state they agreed on when they connected expectations? Is the current state goal-adjacent, or is it much further off? If the end performance result is in the distance or complex, what milestones can they create to track progress? Observations should be objective and include quantitative data like examples and stories, which are a critical aspect of providing feedback.

Secondly, what observations has the team member made on their own? Before offering feedback, the coach should ask the team member to conduct a self-study, which is key to nurturing a coaching relationship. The observation stage will identify any gaps that exist between the coach’s and the team member’s observations and provide a necessary platform for keeping coaching moments focused and relevant.

3. Review

Once observations have been shared and documented, the coach and team member review the available options and develop a concrete action plan to foster the desired change. The review should include tangible actions that will move the individual toward the goal by building skills or changing selling tactics. It’s important to point out that in the review stage, both the coach and the team member have a degree of accountability for ensuring the change is achieved: the team member for executing the action plan and the coach for managing and/or eliminating any hindrances to achieving the plan.

A helpful perspective is to consider the review stage in the context of a project plan. Each element of the plan includes the impact to the customer, incorporates a timeline and captures all the individuals who might be involved in supporting the effort.

4. Evaluate

The completion of the CORE coaching framework requires evaluation. As the action plan is executed, the coaching relationship evolves to a more systematic approach. The skills used to execute the action plan are measured against the desired change and the results achieved. Over time, as coaches attain a level of trust with their team members, they need less time to facilitate the process, often to the point where the team member will self-coach. Once the CORE coaching framework is in place, coaches can replicate the steps easily with additional team members to manage the evolving needs of the sales organization.

Muscle Memory

Getting to a 17 handicap was painful. My coach changed both my grip and my stance in the first few sessions, and my game went to a disastrous 138! Perseverance and patience eventually broke through the emotional barriers to change. With practice, my game started to improve, and with time, muscle memory took over, so I could depend on consistent results.

Members of the sales team will come to a coaching session with their own set of emotions and biases, but the use of this simple, collaborative approach will increase their receptivity. Eliminate the barriers to effective coaching by helping your sales team understand and build on the CORE components of a coaching culture.