Coaching is the key to unlocking your people development

24 May 2023

Why coaching?

Whilst training is our traditional ‘go-to’ method of developing our people, on its own the benefits can be limited as we struggle to embed new skills and techniques or simply forget them. Coaching however can have a hugely beneficial impact when offered to our front-line customer-facing teams. In particular, coaching can facilitate improvements in customer service, conversion, retention and cross-sell. There are of course many further benefits to coaching, some of which are listed here.

Coaching drives results by increasing performance

Sport offers us the perfect insight into understanding how coaching improves results. Whilst the aim of a sports team coach is achieving the best end result, they do this by watching the performances of their team. They observe the abilities and approach of their team and then seek to help them improve. As the celebrated American Football coach Bill Walsh states “keep delivering the standard of performance and the score takes care of itself”.

Client conversations are a golden coaching opportunity

Focus on client conversations

Listening to client conversations are the insurance equivalent of watching your team perform. Unfortunately, call listening is usually focused on ensuring conversations meet regulatory and compliance standards. But if you have call listening and recording capability, using it to turbocharge the development of your people, their performance and ultimately your results is a solid gold investment.

Use calls to kick start coaching

Listening to the conversations between your team and clients is a very effective way to identify the barriers that prevent them from performing at their best. By using observations from these calls you can start coaching sessions that focus on resolving those barriers. Listening to calls also has other benefits, such as spotting new business opportunities, trends in the market and even how to tweak the operation of your team(s) to meet the demands of your clients and improve your results.

Performance standards

As in sport, you should expect your team to perform to certain standards e.g. how well they kick the ball or where you place your skis to ensure you travel as fast as possible. By establishing standards for your client conversations, you create a pathway to improved performance and results. Example standards include:
  • Building rapport with the client 
  • Using open questioning skills to understand the client’s unique situation and needs
  • Correctly articulating and matching the value of the cover to the client’s specific needs
  • Having adequate knowledge of the product/topic
  • Resolving the client’s objections 
  • Asking for the client’s business
On their own each of these standards will help delight a customer, piecing them all together will build a framework that enhances performance, which in turn helps you achieve your key results. 

I don’t have time to listen to calls

There is no getting away from the truth, listening to client conversations can take time. However, instead of listening to calls and hoping for a worthwhile conversation, ask your team to share the details (e.g. time, phone number) of calls that they believe are either good examples of them either meeting the performance standards or examples of where they could improve. Ensuring your team are aware of the standards you expect and have received training on how to meet them, will help them identify these opportunities. 

But my team won’t listen to their own calls

If you adopt the CARE Mindset, develop an effective coaching skill set and use the GROW coaching model to embed a coaching culture, your team will quickly overcome the uncomfortableness of listening to their own voice and realise the power of client conversations to improve their own performance and results. 

Conversations, standards, and GROW working together improve performance

Here are some examples of using client conversations, performance standards and GROW to coach, looking at the experience from the different perspectives of a team member and a team manager. 

Alex has noticed that more clients are enquiring about business travel cover. This has caused some difficulties for Alex who is struggling to explain the situation well. Alex’s clients are getting upset as a result, this is then affecting the rest of their conversation.
Alex knows from the call standards that confidently discussing key insurance products and topics is a fundamental part of their role. Alex asks their manager to have a listen to a recent call, providing the time of the call and phone number using the call history function on their phone.
Alex’s manager listens to the call and sets up a coaching session. In the session, they listen to the call together and then Alex’s manager asks for their opinion. Hearing the call back was a revelation for Alex, it’s clear that their knowledge of business travel cover is causing an issue. They are not coming across as confident and you can hear the client’s concern as a result. After a brief chat Alex decides their goal is to become the expert on this matter for the team, the reality now is that due to recent cover changes no one on the team is sure of the situation. After discussing their options, Alex decides the best way forward is for them to contact their key insurers to understand their approach, if the insurers can also provide training, then great. This is important so Alex agrees to do this by the end of the week. Alex will also look to share this knowledge with their colleagues.
Finally, Alex agrees to another coaching session with their manager in two weeks’ time where they will listen to two more calls to review Alex’s progress and decide on any further steps.
Sam notices that one of their team – Chris, is struggling to achieve their monthly new business conversion figures. This is now impacting the team’s overall results. Initially, Sam spotted the issue when reviewing the team’s sales figures, but to understand what is happening Sam has listened to some of Chris’s phone calls. It quickly became apparent that Chris is having difficulty resolving price objections.
Sam sets up a coaching session via Teams to feed back their observations. Together Sam and Chris establish that Chris doesn’t have the experience to resolve price objections. Indeed this has only become a problem since the advent of the recent hard market. Sam uses the GROW coaching model to conduct the conversation. The reality is now clear, and Chris decides their goal is to increase conversion by 5% over the next three months. Sam helps Chris explore the options, they agree that working with Pat, another of Sam’s team who is more experienced and is not having any such issues is a great way to develop Chris’s skills. Chris will speak to Pat straight away and also suggests that some objection handling training would also be useful. Sam agrees to check if such training can be set up for the team. Chris agrees to share some calls to they can review progress for their next coaching session in a month’s time, which Sam books in straight away. 


Coaching doesn’t have to be complicated or the domain of technical subject matter experts, coaching helps people remove the barriers that stop them from realising their full potential.
Client conversations are golden opportunities to observe our people and kick start coaching conversations. Using the GROW model, the CARE mindset, a core coaching skillset, and client conversation standards will help you turbocharge your people development, allowing your team to deliver for your customers and drive your results.
Further help and support can be found below:
  1. The skills of coaching
  2. The benefits of coaching
You can also recap the CARE Mindset and GROW model by taking a look at the webinar. 
If you would like to discuss how you can develop your people in 2022 and beyond, please get in touch:
Phone : 07818 854321
LinkedIn: @Chris-davies-bullpen

Chris Davies, Bullpen [image]Chris Davies is a Chartered Insurer and has 18 years of experience as a development underwriter, leader of underwriting/operational teams, owner of strategic broker relationships and insurer sales and coaching programmes.  Chris has worked with well-known specialist insurers and brokers, facilitating the development and growth of their core employees i.e. those that work daily with clients or lead teams that do.  Chris specialises in tailored insurance sales, service, account management, team development and leadership training and coaching.