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How To Fix 5 Common Sales Coaching Mistakes

By: Kevin F. Davis
Categories: Sales, Sales Coaching, Sales leadership, Sales Management

A Note From Alice: As a sales leader or business owner, the success of your sales team depends on you and how well you coach your team to success. However, too often other “priorities” get in the way of coaching. Sometimes these priorities are truly important and urgent, but other times they are distractions that get in the way. Kevin F. Davis wrote a helpful blog post about how to overcome five common obstacles sales leaders, and business owners face when coaching a sales team. Check it out below!

1. The Coach Shows Up Too Late To Be Helpful

One of the key elements to sales coaching is to provide ongoing assistance. Yet, in surveys I conduct as part of my sales management coaching, many sales managers tell me that their coaching consists of meeting with their team members once a month or so to discuss their activities and results. In effect, what they call coaching involves stepping in after the fact to look at what has already happened.

If you want to be an ongoing source of support and assistance, then you need more than one monthly conversation about sales numbers. Rather, it is important to actively offer direction and teaching in whichever area of the sales process troubles individual team members. Don’t be so focused on measuring end results, which are lagging indicators, that you miss your opportunity to solve the skill and process problems that can allow your team to improve.

2. A Lack Of Standards For The Amount Of Time Spent Coaching

Companies rarely dictate a set amount of time for sales managers to spend coaching, or how that time should be spent. In the absence of set standards, sales managers are often left to set their own schedules and structures regarding coaching. As a result, the responsibility of coaching can slip through the cracks when compared to other day-to-day job responsibilities that may have a greater immediate sense of accountability. Considering this lack of set standards or requirements, you might consider developing some for yourself or your workplace.

3. The Coach Is Too Focused On The Close

As I conduct sales management training sessions, I often hear sales managers reporting their eagerness to insert themselves into a deal just in time to play a role in the closing, especially in the case of a big sale. Given the tendency of sales managers to have come from a sales background, this is not unexpected.

Yet, it is not terribly helpful from a coaching standpoint. You are essentially rushing to take part in a deal that is already made and is ready to close, and leaving the rest of your team to fend for themselves in the meantime.

Your best salespeople are working the biggest sales opportunities. The bigger the deal and the higher the excitement that often builds behind it, the more skill and ability your seller likely already has.

From a coaching standpoint, doesn’t it seem more logical to focus on those who are trying hard but having trouble landing the best deals? Try fine-tuning the earlier steps of the sales process and working with your reps speaking to customers who have not yet decided to commit.

4. Focusing On Tasks Rather Than Developing The Team

When someone who was once a top salesperson suddenly finds themselves in the position of being a sales manager, the experience comes complete with a whole new role to fill and desire to succeed.

As a salesperson, this person got the promotion by doing more than others. When a top rep becomes a sales manager, he or she may want to focus on selling rather than coaching team members to improve their skills.

Managing a sales team requires a different mindset than selling and the earlier leaders adjust to this reality the better coaches and managers they can be. It’s important for new sales leaders to remember that they are no longer players, but coaches. They must retrain their instincts accordingly and get to know their people and their needs.

5. A Lack Of Time Due To Too Many Distractions

Time is a critical concern for sales managers seeking to coach their teams. When I lead my sales management training sessions “not enough time” is the top concern raised when I ask sales managers why they do not engage in sales coaching.

While coaching is the most important task for a sales manager to perform, one survey that I conducted for a Fortune 500 company found that a given sales manager devoted no more than 10 percent of his day to coaching.

Sales leaders have so many monkeys on their backs that they can’t shake off to devote time to the most critical aspect of their jobs.

To gain more time for coaching, sales managers can learn to let others take ownership of their own problems without rushing to their rescue when they aren’t critically needed. If sales leaders focus on the No. 1 priority of developing the team, they might be surprised at how much time suddenly becomes available for coaching.

Time To Get To Work

There is only one path to building a great sales team: hiring quality people, training them, and coaching them to greatness. Set aside time every day for individual coaching with your team, and be proactive in addressing hurdles that may keep you from doing so effectively. If you can do this, you will soon see the benefits of great sales coaching, including a boost to morale, reduced turnover, and faster improvement among your team!

To read more from Kevin, check out his bookThe Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness

To keep his coaching tips handy, download this free infographic with Kevin F. Davis’ 5 reminders!

Kevin F. Davis
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Kevin F. Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the president of TopLine Leadership Inc., a leading provider of customizable sales and sales management training programs that helps firms dramatically increase top line revenue growth.
Kevin F. Davis
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