Let’s do a countdown on the most common reasons I’ve observed about why sales managers don’t do enough coaching…
5. They mistake “inspection” for “coaching.”
When I ask sales managers to describe what kind of coaching they do, a lot of them say they sit down once a month with each rep to discuss activity level, results, and deals in the hopper. They think that’s coaching. But it’s not. It’s “inspection”—looking at something after the fact!
The word “coach” is derived from the English word, “carriage” which means to transport someone from where they are now to where they want to go. Coaching is an on-going process of direction, teaching and support. It’s not a 1-on-1 conversation every now and then about numbers.
4. No company standard set for coaching time to be committed by sales managers.
Companies need to communicate their expectations to managers about how much time they should spend coaching. As Sam Walton once said, “High expectations are the key to everything.”
Have you ever been told how much time each week your company expects sales managers to spend coaching reps? A few hours? One day? Three days? If your company doesn’t yet have a standard, perhaps you should start with something.
3. Über-sales syndrome
The Über-Sales syndrome occurs when managers inject themselves into the largest sales opportunities just as the deal approaches the “close” step. Sales managers take pride in being results-oriented, and so they focus attention on the big deals that are approaching the close step. There are two problems with succumbing to the über-sales lure:
- Odds are it’s your best and most experienced salespeople who are working the largest deals, and so your sales manager is helping the people who need the least amount of help!
- From the customers’ perspective, the size of an opportunity is determined early on in the buying cycle. That’s where the customer recognizes their needs and formulates their vision of a solution. The über-sales manager isn’t much interested in the beginning of a sales process, and so reps don’t get coached on the skills they need the most that could help them land larger deals.
2. Sales managers are too focused on daily tasks, not people.
When a peak-performing rep is promoted to sales manager, chances are that one of the reasons for the promotion was because he/she completed more tasks than other people. As a newly minted manager, they suddenly have even more tasks to deal with. So they respond with what has worked well for them in the past: they knock down each task like it’s a bowling pin. Then 5PM appears on their watch and suddenly they realize that they spent all day doing “stuff,” and no time coaching people.
1. No time to coach.
This is the #1 reason sales managers tell me that they don’t coach their salespeople as much as they should. Without question, sales managers are swamped by all the incoming texts, emails, meeting requests, reports for management, customer problems, service/delivery problems — you name it. Everything gets dumped on a sales manager’s desk.
There’s no doubt that sales managers would benefit by learning time management skills. And companies would benefit by re-examining their procedures for field communications with a goal of reducing the “incoming” their sales managers receive from the home office.
No more excuses!
The only way to build an elite high-performance sales team is to a) hire quality people, b) train them and c) coach them up. No sales rep ever became more successful by a sales manager who was locked on to a computer/phone/tablet screen! Effective sales management is about connecting with your people. To be a great sales coach you must set time aside each and every day to observe, assess, and develop your people. Now, lead the way!