Do you think that switching a title could have an impact a sales department’s performance – say switching from sales manager to sales coach? I do, and I have been lobbying for sales departments to make this change for years. However, late last week I actually crossed paths with a VP of Sales who made this change a few years back and obviously we quickly became fond of each other. Naturally I was curious about what led him to make that change and his response made perfect sense, to me at least. He said, “I told my team that most everyone can manage, but very few can coach” which I agreed, but asked him to elaborate. To be concise, he went into detail about how in his experience he has found that many sales managers are very good at monitoring and reporting their reps activities and results, but very few of them are actually very good at teaching and coaching their reps how to get better at the activities that lead to favorable results. Amen Brother.
Ask yourself the following two questions: Do you want to be a manager? Do you want to be a coach?
How do those questions feel the same? How do they feel different? The reason I am posing so many questions is because so many sales departments don’t ask enough questions when deciding who is going to be their next sales manager. Far too often the person anointed sales manager is the highest performing rep which research has proven many times over to be a big mistake. Generally speaking taking your highest performing rep and putting them into a management role hurts their performance as well as their teams – not to say it can’t be done, but that type of talent is rare. It is important to ask the high performing rep do you really want to sell or do you really want to coach? Likewise, if they say they want to coach it is equally important to be clear about what the role and responsibilities of a sales coach are and what they must do to be effective in their role.
To be clear, I am not dismissing the importance of management; it is critical. But good management is simply a component of what makes a great sales coach and not the other way around. The problem is that the word manager denotes authoritative power and a hierarchical progression that we are accustomed to, but is slowly phasing itself out in the highest performing sales organizations. For sales reps to maximize their potential they need to be coached on an on-going basis not simply sent to a two week training session every now and then. I know that my VP of Sales friend would agree with me and although a small sample size it terms of changing titles, his division has increased by more than 10% each year over the past few years and utilizing the title sales coach has been adapted by the entire organization.
Just some food for thought, but don’t catch yourself saying “my sales managers are simply super salespeople” or you will be leaving money on the table.
Best of Luck,
Director of Business Development