Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography
My blog today ushers in what I believe will be one of the most unique and valuable research ventures we conduct here at the EcSell Institute. Over the past few months, many of our team discussions have seemed to meander to a point were we ask ourselves questions about the sales coaching world where having empirical data would be quite useful. To help us expand, explore, and improve, we have created a plan for periodically releasing web-based surveys designed specifically for sales managers. These surveys will be extremely precise containing only a handful of questions on very direct and sales-relevant topics. You can get in and out of the survey in a matter of minutes. I’ll even go as far as to say these surveys will be a thought-provoking and enjoyable opportunity for participants. I’m a bit giddy about the potential for this effort to collect sales management research. Today is the first glance at the findings from this new project, so let’s jump into a peek at the good stuff.
Recently, we made our Sales Manager Activity Survey available to sales managers across the globe. The goal for this first survey is to gain a better understanding of the time demands of sales managers. Each participant was asked to estimate the percentage of time they spend on a list of common activities during an average month. Our results, currently, break out like this:
I love visual displays of data. They do such a great job of presenting information in a quick and easy to understand manner. This figure, a pie chart, shows us that the amount of time sales managers estimate spending on our listed activities is pretty similar. The activities include administrative tasks, coaching and providing feedback to sales reps, helping reps with customer issues and problems, participating in joint sales calls, analyzing the pipeline, attending company meetings, and travel. The largest amount of time is reportedly spent on coaching or providing feedback to reps on their selling skills (19%). Each wedge of the pie here, however, is pretty similar with only a 7% difference between the highest (19%) and lowest (12%) time capturing activities.
Here’s where things get interesting. We also asked sales managers to indicate the one activity out of this list where they would like to spend more time. A whopping 63.4% say that they would choose to spend more time coaching.
We also distinguished between sales managers and managers of sales managers in our survey. The managers of sales managers also clearly indicate where they would like their managers to spend more time. Over two-thirds (66.7%) said they would like to see their sales managers devote more time to coaching and providing feedback to reps on their selling skills.
I use this piece of data as our starting point for analyzing and interpreting our survey results because I think it provides a clear message. There are many demands on a sales manager. Sales managers (including the managers of sales managers), however, see the value of sales coaching and would like this one activity to play a larger role.
So, how do we rectify this gap? I’ll wrap this up with two simple suggestions. First, make sales coaching a priority. I know this is easier said than done, but this data is very supportive of sales managers and managers of sales managers both seeing this activity as time well spent. Second, make the time you do have available for sales coaching as impactful and productive as possible. You may not be able to add any hours to the day, but you can make your sales coaching time more effective.