Sales Coaching Blog

Coaching: The Undervalued Discipline

Posted by Kerstin Olson

November 28, 2012

Sarah WirthEcSELL Institute recently published a white paper on the key role that coaching from their sales managers plays in creating motivation in sales reps (see the white paper here: http://spps.community.ecsellinstitute.com/Docs/Documents/TTEOTR%20on%20Motivation-NonMembers%2010%208%2012.pdf).  In this paper, our research shows an extremely high correlation between reps being more motivated to achieve their sales goals when they feel their manager is effective at coaching them to the sales process.  However, our research also shows that sales reps don’t rate the ability to coach as one of the most important skills for their manager to possess.  So why is there a disconnect?  Why do reps not place much value on coaching from their manager even though it is so important to their success?

One of the most likely reasons is that many reps have not received effective enough coaching from their managers to understand how valuable good coaching really can be.  Indeed, our research shows that when reps are asked to rate their managers’ skillsets in areas like leadership, product knowledge, industry knowledge, providing recognition, etc., the manager’s ability to coach the rep receives the very lowest ratings of any skillset.  Simply stated, reps don’t realize the value of coaching because their sales managers aren’t making coaching valuable.

So how can you change that?  How do you make your coaching so valuable that your reps will recognize its importance?  In our mini-webinar that will be released this week, EcSELL Institute president Bill Eckstrom is going to highlight five keys ways to make your coaching more effective.  This webinar will provide numerous practical ideas and best practices that you can implement with your team right away.  In addition to the five key strategies Bill will discuss, I’d like to add one more simple idea… make coaching a priority.

It sounds easy enough, but it’s something that sales leaders struggle with every day because everybody else around you is trying to place coaching lower on the priority list.  You receive pressure from your boss to spend time attending meetings, creating strategic plans, analyzing sales numbers and dealing with customer issues.  Your reps often cancel or delay coaching meetings with you because they are busy dealing with needs from prospects and customers.  And customers are often asking you to stay directly involved in serving their account rather than coaching your rep so they can take over the account.  With everyone pushing you to spend less time coaching, the burden is on you to make it a priority.

You can do this by being disciplined in their approach.  Put recurring weekly one-to-one coaching meetings with your reps on your calendar and don’t cancel these meetings unless it is a true emergency.  At the beginning of the year, schedule out all the weeks that you will ride-along with your reps so they can plan their calendars accordingly.  If your boss or your rep asks you to move a coaching meeting, don’t agree to do so until a new time for the coaching meeting is agreed upon.  In short, give coaching the importance it deserves because it is essential to motivating your reps achieve their sales goal.  Make coaching your number one priority.

Topics: Accountability Coaching, sales territory planning, sales coaching, sales methodology & sales skills development

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