The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Sales team motivation: coach is the role

    by Will Kloefkorn / August 12, 2014

    Do you think that switching a title could have an impact a sales team’s motivation – say switching from sales manager to sales coach?

    I have been lobbying for sales departments to make this change for years. A while back 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. Very few are actually great at motivating their sales reps to sell more.


    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 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, 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 opportunity on the table.

    Is there opportunity for your sales managers to become great sales coaches? Check out our Fall Sales Coaching summit below!

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    previous post What Does It Mean to Be a Sales Coach?
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    Will Kloefkorn

    Will Kloefkorn

    Serving as a sales manager with the EcSell Institute team since the company's inception, Will Kloefkorn is responsible for leading EcSell Institute's worldwide sales growth strategies and business development initiatives as the VP of Sales. Will's background includes business development jobs across the board with recognized organizations such as ESPN and Enterprise.

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