No matter what industry you are in, the game of sales has changed. As I always say, “Good selling is good selling,” but there are some changes we all need to make to continue to bring in new business and more business from existing customers. Although training can certainly help, I believe coaching is the most important way to help salespeople make the needed changes.
Most Important Job of the Sales Manager
With that in mind, the most important job for sales managers is to coach their salespeople to close business. They need to provide performance, pipeline, and deal coaching one on one and with their team.
Statistically and anecdotally speaking all the data points to improved sales when sales managers learn to coach effectively and spend more time doing it.
So why don’t CEOs insist that sales managers be trained to coach and spend most of their time doing it?
The most likely answer is it’s not a priority. By making a priority not only will it happen but you will see the results quickly.
Company leaders who want more sales need to make sure their managers have the skills and the time to coach their salespeople.
Training the Coaches
Ineffective sales managers have expensive consequences. Sales leaders need development just like their sales team. Most of them have had little or no training on how to be a great sales manager, which of course includes learning to coach. The answer is to provide training. (I recommend The Sales Managers Guide to Greatness course by Kevin Davis.)
If they have the needed skills to coach and they still aren’t doing it, examine how they are spending their time.
Have them write down everything they do daily for about 5 days and determine what percentage of that time was spent coaching salespeople. Then determine what percentage of time was spent doing other things, especially note those that generate absolutely no revenue. (Hint – that is almost everything.)
Most sales managers spend 80% or more of their time doing work that doesn’t generate revenue. So, what are they doing with their time? They are generating reports, handling emails, attending meetings, putting out fires, etc. Instead of proactively managing salespeople they are doing a long list of other things that are required by senior management.
Have you ever wondered why a salesperson doesn’t hit quota?
Of course, there could be skills lacking, poor attitude, problem prioritizing, and many other reasons but all of those are allowed to exist because the sales manager hasn’t coached the needed changes.
So, blaming salespeople for not making quota seems pointless. My question would be, why were they allowed to continue the behavior that leads them to not making quota. Who is responsible? The sales manager.
Aside: For all of you salespeople out there lacking a great sales manager, find a mentor, find the training you need, or change jobs. Don’t wait around for someone else to come and make things better – take matters into your own hands.
Just as every athlete needs a good coach to win games, every salesperson needs a good coach to win sales. An athlete may have plenty of potential, but with no coaching or bad coaching, they can’t win.
I believe that salespeople can and should be coached to improve their performance and increase their success.
What does a great coach do?
Let’s take an example straight from sports. A coach takes the team to victory one game at a time. The coach sets the strategy and then helps the players understand how to implement it. A coach never plays the game for them but may demonstrate needed techniques. When a player is doing poorly, they get a pep talk and some skills practice. When the game is over the coach helps the team analyze the results so they can continue doing what they did right and learn from the mistakes. The coach is constantly providing experiences and feedback that improve the players and keep the team motivated.
Coaching salespeople is no different. A sales manager helps salespeople reach their quota one sale at a time. The manager sets the strategy for the territory and helps the salespeople implement it. Managers don’t do the selling work for the salespeople but will demonstrate sales techniques when needed. If a salesperson is having a tough time, they get a pep talk and some skills practice. Whether a salesperson loses or wins a sale, the manager helps analyze the results. The manager is constantly providing experiences and feedback to improve the salespeople to keep the team motivated.
Are your sales leaders providing great sales coaching?
Winners have great coaches. Are you providing what your salespeople need to win?
Make coaching a priority. First and foremost, the CEO and company leaders need to believe that sales managers should focus their attention on coaching their salespeople. Next, make it a priority, provide training, and set expectations and finally model the behavior you expect. Coach the sales leaders so they continue too improve and become better coaches themselves.
Your salespeople will become winners when their sales managers provide great coaching.
In this economy, you need great sales coaches. You can’t afford anything else.
So, do you want more sales? One sure-fire way to get more sales is to make it a priority for your sales managers to provide great coaching.
Let’s assess your sales managers and then provide the right training and coaching so they can be lead winning teams. We can provide the assessment, the training, and the ongoing coaching your team will need. Click here to get them started today.