Editor's Note: This blog has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on July 27, 2020. Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography.
EcSell Institute research shows that more than 50% of sales managers knowingly execute less than 48% of the high performance coaching activities that will drive the most sales. The result of this statistic is obvious; sales revenue is left on the table due to the sales manager’s lack of willingness to execute.
For perspective, how would a President, CSO, EVP Sales, etc. respond to the above stats if they were applied to sales people? What if they learned half of their sales people were doing only half of the activities that led to the best outcome? It would be unacceptable, heads would roll, yet in the sales leadership profession this double standard is unknowingly accepted because coaching performance is not measured. How much more would be sold if sales leaders fully committed and behaved like high performance coaches?
High Performing Managers vs. Low Performing managers
When delivering a presentation or workshop where I cover research surrounding activities and behaviors of high performing coaches, inevitably some candid soul will make the comment “coaching is harder than I thought." I love it when this happens, for it means the concepts of high performance coaching are sinking into the fiber of their being. And while great coaches sometimes make it look easy, it isn’t.
If one is in a leadership position, defined by having people that report to them, by default they are a coach (tweet this). Similar to athletics, they are a coach because they are accountable for the performance of individuals and hence the team.
Most seem to intellectually understand this objective, but few know what it takes to be consummately successful in this high performance coaching endeavor. In business, especially in sales, very few managers execute high performance coaching activities or behaviors on a consistent basis.
Being “high performance” at anything is hard and comes with a cost. Based on our research, here are some clear distinctions between high performance and low performance coaching.
The High Performance Coach
- Has a methodology that promotes unique interactions with all on his or her team
- Holds 1:1 coaching meetings a minimum of every other week (find our template here)
- Holds monthly team meetings where they involve and empower the team members to run components of the meeting
- Executes career development plans with their team and reviews them quarterly
- Does at least quarterly ride-a-longs (joint work) and provides objective skills feedback for each of their team members
- Requires sales reps to provide a joint call plan for every sales meeting when doing joint work
- Tracks the quality of their execution of the above
- Tracks performance to goal of the above coaching KPIs
The Low Performance Coach
- Has no coaching methodology and as a result have no coaching KPIs
- State they are “too busy” to execute all the high performance coaching activities
- Make numbers the focus as opposed to the person
- Doesn’t take the time to know the personal and professional goals of those on their team
- Takes the lead too often or takes over the call when doing joint work with sales people
- Does the least amount of work with their top team members
- Does not utilize sales KPIs to help team members improve
It is fun to challenge any CEO or CSO when comments are made as to their management team’s coaching acumen, for my response is always the same… “How do you know?”
Not knowing is a profession-wide challenge that impacts every company. For example, I recently visited with a gentleman who told me their top producing region was the region that has not had a manager in place for many months. Ouch!
The bottom line is if sales departments, or any department for that matter, don’t know if any of their respective managers are improving or hindering performance, and until they provide them with the proper training, tools, behaviors and tracking mechanisms, they will never know.
Let me repeat—HIGH PERFORMANCE COACHING IS HARD!