Transforming Sales Managers into Sales Coaches
What is the number one activity that drives sales performance? Answer: Coaching. The biggest obstacle is teaching managers how to effectively coach their sales people. Very few managers have an innate ability to coach, it is a finite skill that takes time to perfect and without it, managers will make all types of blunders.
Interested in increasing your Sales Performance?
Transforming your sales managers from good to great coaches can have a dramatic impact on sales. In fact, great sales coaching can increase sales by 19%.
As the head of sales or as a frontline sales manager you can positively influence the performance of your sales team if you can develop great coaches.
Coaching Blunder #1 – “Telling vs. Asking Coaching”
As a sales manager you were probably a top performer. You may still see yourself as a problem-solver. Your
mantra is, “If I solve this rep’s issue then she/he can make the sale.” But telling your salesperson how to solve the issue does not create a self-managing sales rep, and the downsides to the tell-first approach are many.
You may be perceived as a micro manager.
You are creating a dependency as the problem-solver. The result: endless emails, phone calls and needy reps.
You are not developing competent reps. One of the critical areas for development is the ability to be a self-manager.
Be conscious of your actions and avoid falling into “tell” mode, it is a bad habit.
Coaching Blunder #2 – “I’ll get to it Coaching”
We all face time management challenges. Emails, meetings and administrative duties, all eat up our scheduled work time. If you want sales results then the easy answer is to complete the activities that will drive the greatest revenue. Generally we do the busy work first as a distraction from the harder tasks. Cleaning up emails, completing reports and following up on messages all make us feel good. But none of these activities contribute to the bottom line.
With great sales coaching having a major impact on sales, why is coaching not the #1 priority?
What should I do? Stop making excuses and get out of the office. Get out in the field and make coaching your #1 priority. Your boss will thank you and your reps will make lots of money.
Coaching Blunder #3 – “Laundry List Coaching”
Personal growth and accepting change can be difficult. We all have strengths and areas for development. Mangers who create a long list of development goals will have little success. It is too difficult for sales rep to make multiple changes in how they sell. True development involves focusing on 1 or 2 areas before moving on to the next goal.
It is de-motivating to receive a field report listing all of the things done wrong. Some reps would not even read the report. Many will read and wonder where to begin. Others will be completely overwhelmed.
Great coaching is about focus, focus and more focus. Helping a sales rep improve in one area of their job can have a major impact on their performance.
Coaching Blunder #4 – “One Size Fits All Coaching”
One of the key pitfalls of sales managers is the “one size fits all” method.
How many times have we witnessed a sales rep working in autopilot? This is the rep delivering the same sales pitch to each and every customer. As coaches we fail to see when we go into autopilot, taking the same approach with each rep.
Do you ever find yourself coaching all your reps the same way?
Is your feedback to each rep the same?
Wake up! You have fallen into the rut of “one size fits all” coaching.
Coaching verses training. What’s the difference?
Training is about having everyone learn the same information or skills.
Coaching is about diagnosing and developing each rep’s particular areas for improvement. It is about adapting your coaching style to the individual and about developing individualised development plans.
Coaching is a one-to-one sport. It is about growing individuals to realize their full potential.
Coaching Blunder #5 – “Way to go Coaching”
A commitment to change is the key to unlocking potential. Sales managers often fail to commit their reps to change. A good manager may have asked all the right questions, come to agreement on areas for development but then forget to secure solutions. It is critical to have the rep buy in to what steps they will take to develop and achieve their goals.
How to get the “buy in:
Develop a 3 or 4 point plan outlining steps the sales rep will complete between coaching sessions.
Encourage the rep to develop their own next steps and hold them accountable to do what they say they are going to do.
Please note, that without accountability in place the odds are that there will be no change in rep behaviour or skill improvement in the next coaching session.
Great coaching means great performance. Sales organizations that embrace a coaching culture and invest in their front line managers’ ability to coach will have a competitive advantage and outsell the competition. In today’s competitive economy, the organizations that recognize the importance of executive sales coaching will be top performers in their industry.