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VUCA Sales Coaching​

Author: Bill Taylor

Published March 2020

The acronym VUCA, which represents the notion of “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity”, was popularised by the late Warren Bennis, author, professor from USC and Harvard Leadership Studies and the US Army War College during the Cold War. We believe VUCA elegantly describes our present reality responding to the Corona Virus pandemic as sales professionals and sales leaders.


“As a Sales Leader, how would you assess the performance readiness and response of your Sales Teams, and enterprise Sales Organisation, in this present time? Also, how are you coaching your Sales Teams to better navigate these turbulent waters of change?”


We speak from experience having led sales teams through the 9/11 Crisis and weathered the storms of the 2008-2009 Recession. We have also hit and navigated more than a few other speed-bumps leading sales teams when there is panic and chaos (VUCA) in the day-to-day pursuit of sales and creating value for our buyers.


Sellers, and their Managers, get discouraged pretty easily when their Sales Pipeline starts to weaken, or when they experience “call-aversion” from prospects and clients who read the incessant bad news. Forecasting in such circumstances seems impossible and what was once a strategic sales plan has turned into “dialling for dollars to save every deal possible”.

Time to become the Master VUCA Sales Coach!

This will sound pretty familiar; but take a pause. Assess what you could be doing differently in order to bolster morale, encourage a “growth-mindset vs. a fixed-mindset” and jumpstart your Sales Teams to provide more value to their clients than they might have imagined.


  1. Reality Check: Communicate, communicate, communicate and communicate even more. Don’t shy away from the reality of a remarkably difficult sales performance environment. Share you own concerns with your Team, and ask them to express their concerns. Let’s talk openly, encourage one another and re-frame our call to action.
  2. Reassess Your Strategic and Operational Sales Planning: As a Sales Leader, assess your Territory, Regional, National and Global Strategic Plan.
    1. What about your Plan still makes sense and can be executed successfully?
    2. How should the Plan be adjusted to respond the present reality?
    3. Invite your Sales Teams to share their assessment of the larger Sales Plan to receive their insights, concerns, questions and recommendations. Don’t go this alone!
    4. Update, revise and launch your Strategic Sales Plan to reflect your assessment, including your Team’s input.
  3. Seller Territory Plan Updates – VUCA Coaching: Given the updated strategic sales planning, allow time for each Seller to visit and update their individual, tactical, Territory Plans to align with the revised strategy. Create an explicit 90-day VUCA Sales Plan to kick-start your revised Territory Plan.
    1. As a VUCA Sales Coach, engage each of your Sellers to support them with their Territory revisions. Help them identify what is still working, where changes need to be made, how to acknowledge the present and plan for the future. Coach them in-person (if possible), stay connected and don’t try to coach over email – stay close.
    2. For Key Accounts, visit your Strategic Account Plans and revise accordingly. Share with your key contacts for alignment and agreement.
    3. Create a Team Meeting, have each Seller present their updated plans and create a peer-coaching culture. Learn from one another and encourage one another!
  4. VUCA Coaching Day-to-Day: Identify, encourage and coach to your Sellers’ “leading indicators (activities and behaviours) that will influence lagging indicators of performance (e.g. sales results, etc.)” Here are some tactical suggestions for your Sellers to take immediate action:
    1. Contact their Clients & Prospects to let them know you are present, engaged and available to support them in these “VUCA” times. Foster trust and communication.
    2. Ask your Clients and Prospects “What would be the best support and frequency of contact you need to do your jobs?” Make sure to document your activity and what you learn in your CRM!
    3. Be proactive about current projects, commitments, scheduled events, cancellations, etc. Don’t ignore anything and use “hope as a strategy”. Get in front of your clients as their trusted advisors and invite their questions, concerns, suggestions. Send them a Summary of your conversation and convey accountability for your “new normal”.
    4. Share the highlights of your revised planning and account management strategy with each Prospect and Client. Let them know that your organisation is sensitive to this time of “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.”
    5. What else would you suggest from your experience over time?

We have weathered the turbulence of other significant times of “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity” before. We will figure this one out as well.

Our encouragement is to become an even better (VUCA) Sales Coach that you can imagine. Invest in your Sellers’ success and sharpen your skills.

The Mentor Group is a global leader in enterprise Sales Transformation, Effectiveness and Performance “Coaching” focused on Sales Technology, People and Process. After enjoying this Blog, please contact us to explore how we might support you in these “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” times.

We are Global Sales Coaching experts and offer you our proven best practices to align, engage and encourage your sellers, sales teams and enterprise sales organisation in these high-velocity times of change – VUCA:  Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.