Why Sales Managers Don’t Coach
Why Sales Managers Don’t Coach
Marie manages 11 salespeople and doesn’t coach any of them. During a recent meeting I asked her why and she really didn’t have any answers. It just never occurred to her that having a formal coaching program for her people was important. I then began to ask some other sales managers about their coaching and was amazed at the number who did little if any real coaching. Here are some of the reasons that I heard:
- I hire experienced salespeople so they don’t need coaching.
- All our salespeople attend XYZ sales training every year or two so they get all the coaching they need.
- I don’t have time to babysit salespeople.
- I don’t know how to do it or where to begin.
- I don’t have the skills to be a good coach.
- I’m afraid.
There are many more reasons but, like the above, they’re all baloney. Salespeople need coaching on a regular basis if they’re going to grow. One of the key functions of a sales manager is coaching the salespeople. It’s not a task that can be abdicated. Sure you can provide outside sales training to teach a process or system. Yes you can have outside trainers help your people with techniques. But, nobody can replace the hands-on attention and knowledge that a sales manager can provide.
When you coach your salespeople you help them grow and do better. They sell more and sell at better profit margins. They feel better about themselves and about the company. They understand that somebody is rooting for them to be successful and they develop a sense of belonging. They take pride in mastering new skills.
Coaching salespeople is not difficult but it does take commitment and some fundamental skills and training. With those skills, the right attitude and practice you can become a good sales coach relatively quickly.
The following are some basic steps for coaching salespeople. It is really helpful to have an understanding of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses so that you have a baseline from which to start. A good professional sales force evaluation will give you much of this information. Remember that not everyone is coachable.
- Have an agreement with the salesperson on the purpose of the coaching. What needs to be accomplished? What’s in it for the salesperson?
- How are you going to it? Have a plan.
- Agree on the ground rules.
- Set up a schedule for your meetings. It should be at least weekly and ideally face-to-face.
- Some components include pre-call strategizing, post-call debriefing, tracking activities and behaviors and holding accountable.
- Keep good notes
With practice and time your coaching skills will improve. Remember you owe it to your salespeople to help them grow. In time they will become consistent overachievers (or you’ll decide that they’re in the wrong business). In the monthly Street Smart Sales Management Forum we cover sales coaching and many other sales management topics. Attendance is free. For more information go to www.clevelstrategic.com
Street Smart Sales Management is written every week by Oliver Connolly. It contains timely and actionable tips for sales management professionals.