Perhaps more than a few can do it, but very few practice it.
“It” is the ability for senior sales leaders to consistently think about performance via their management team as opposed to the sales reps. It’s hard and I can empathize with the ease of focusing on player performance as opposed to coaching performance. However, in terms of priority, it is simply wrong.
Too often senior sales leaders want to discuss sales activity, sales skills, tools sales people use, account strategy and more. The conversations should be management activity, coaching to improve selling skills, how the information derived from selling tools is being used to improve sales performance, what are managers doing to help reps think and act strategically about accounts, etc.
This is not to insinuate senior sales leaders don’t interact with sales reps—quite the opposite. Sales leaders need to be involved at all levels within their teams, but think about your interactions and conversations with sales reps; you most likely discuss selling strategy, how to bring on a large prospect, how to get more spend and take greater care of a large client—all the right conversations given the position. Are you having the appropriate conversations when you visit with and about sales managers?
Usually at the end of a post I provide a link or some best practice tool or research to support a way to fix or improve. For what I’ve written above I have the most simple best practice solution—STOP IT! Don’t do it anymore! Think before you speak and if the conversation turns to sales people at an inappropriate time—change it!
To maximize the performance of teams think more about impacting managers, and let managers think about impacting sales people.