#1 Role of a Sales Manager? COACH
Sales Manager and Coach
Coaching is not complicated, but uncommon.
It’s rare to find a sales manager who is a skilled coach and this graphic illustrates the magnitude of the problem.
Even when an organization has all the key components, without the thread of coaching running through the sales organization consistent performance is unlikely, and high performance is implausible. A culture of coaching, in concert with the basic elements of talent, process, and accountability, means accelerated growth.
Every sales professional has weaknesses but not all are obvious and the ones that lurk below the surface cause the problems. Notice how high the weakness in Coaching is in the graphic.
Leadership must support coaching; sales managers must know how to coach, when to coach and what to coach. The culture of the company must demonstrate an emphasis on coaching and create an environment for it to be effective and embraced.
Our goal is to provide the pathway for leaders to build a world-class sales organization.
CEOs must have a growth mindset or the desire to do what is necessary to double or triple the size of the company. A growth mindset and a commitment to coaching are the thread that starts with Leadership. It is this thread that weaves the fabric or culture to a commitment of growth and coaching.
Put me in Coach!
Athletes expect coaching; the top sales performers crave it.
Sales organizations and sports organizations aren’t so different, yet comparisons feel slightly off because coaching is inherent in sports but not in most companies, let alone sales organizations. Athletes expect coaching and elite performers crave it. Coaching is done during practice, not the game. Sales managers can observe a salesperson during a sales conversation, but I wouldn’t recommend deep coaching in front of a potential client. Practice is critical. Do you know sales teams in small to mid-size companies that practice presentations or their value statement?
Only 32% of salespeople are receiving coaching on a weekly basis, according to Objective Management Group. Without a commitment from Leadership to develop and attract people who will strive beyond hitting sales goals and grow professionally, the sales organization will never be elite. Practice and coaching are vital components to getting and keeping top talent.
Are you clear on what coaches do and what they focus on?
A batting coach in baseball will focus on technique and maybe motivation. A head coach in American Football will work on strategy. In the sales organization, who is responsible for tactical training vs. strategy? Do the salespeople look to the sales manager for answers to technical questions and everyone believes that is “coaching?” Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group shares his insights on this:
“Then there’s the issue of what constitutes coaching. Effective sales coaching impacts opportunities and improve sales effectiveness but that is not what most sales managers do for coaching. Consider that: 60% of all coaching is to simply provide help with pricing, technical help, or with proposals. Sorry, but that’s not coaching!
Of the remaining coaching, which we know occurs much too infrequently, a third, or 12% of all sales coaching is to encourage or challenge salespeople. Sorry, that’s not coaching either; it’s motivation. 72% of what sales managers call coaching is simply not coaching!”
What is tactical coaching? An opportunity for salesperson-specific coaching to improve the individual salesperson, make them more capable, effective, and stronger. Sales managers move the needle here.
Front-line sales managers must coach daily and weekly; individuals should be coached first and the team second. Sales managers are rarely prepared for their roles and that’s a big problem.
Frustration ensues because the newly promoted sales managers have no idea how to do the job. He or she is not given any training or support; nor is it likely they were ever coached properly by previous sales managers. Sales managers don’t know what it is like to manage and most weren’t coached as a salesperson.
Coaching impacts revenue.
Top salespeople are competitive and want to improve so they will embrace coaching.
Elite salespeople significantly increase revenue and good ones make a positive impact also. Mediocre salespeople cost companies money because they don’t recognize how to maximize conversations.
Sales managers are promoted to the role because they were consistent top performers. This neither qualifies them nor disqualifies them. However, it usually frustrates the person promoted, the sales team, and the Leadership of the company because a lack of excellent managers won’t attract or retain elite salespeople.
The bottom line: Make coaching a priority and teach sales managers how to do it well. Helix is ready to help and to get started, I recommend Coaching Winning Sales Teams: Insights from the World of Sport and Business.
With 30+ years of experience in business development, sales coaching, and sales management positions, Walter has gained deep understanding of, and rare insight into managing and implementing a sales process. His unique, best-in-class sales assessment tools and CRM software have proven to be exactly what businesses need to transform their sales team and process.
You owe it to yourself and your sales team to find out how Helix Sales Development can transform your business. Schedule a call today, and discover a renewed sense of potential for your business.