The Coaching Effect Blog

Coaching Sales Managers

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

July 2, 2014

Bill_Eckstrom_Headshot_2014_sCoaching sales coaches, managing sales managers or whatever you wish to call it, do you do it?  Or, do you assume since they are in a “management” role, they don't need coaching?  Coaching sales managers is a critical need and a great opportunity to grow sales. 

When we ask sales executives (VP, EVP’s, SVP’s, CSO’s, etc.) if they view their front line sales managers as an opportunity to grow sales, over 90% respond with “yes”.  However, most also hesitate prior to answering, for they have not considered managers as a way to sell more—that is typically reserved for the sales reps.  What a colossal waste of resources without good coaches.  Think about it… A front line manager is typically accountable for approx. $10M-$14M of revenue and a typical rep is accountable for $1M-$2M, yet sales execs rarely concern themselves with coaching managers.

This blog is not to answer “why” sales execs aren’t coaching, but more of a “walk the talk” with your team.  Given that, below are some of the most overlooked coaching duties of a sales executive.

1:1 meetings—we know when front line managers do these in a specific format (and do them well) with their reps, motivation is increased, which leads to an uptick in discretionary effort,  which usually leads to more sales.  And, the same applies for sales exec to front line sales manager meetings.  Every manager coaching 1:1 session should cover the following: personal updates, wins/losses, pipeline reviews, team updates, and how may I assist? 

Ride-a-longs—these are a way to accomplish many tactical and strategic items: First, you get to interact with customers, listen to what they say and ask questions.  Second, you can watch your sales people sell, but more importantly you can watch and listen to how your manager provides feedback post call as well as evaluate their written coaching feedback. 

Coaching reviews—these should be objective scores given to a series of coaching skills and behaviors, which if managers execute consistently and effectively, sales will increase (click here to read more about high pay-off sales management activities).  This is different than an annual review that simply measure something such as company core competencies, we’re talking about measuring what science proves will move the sales needle.

Continuing education—I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it.  Companies spent an estimated $20B last year on sales training, yet what they spent on training managers is insignificant.  Learn how to coach, learn how to improve your EQ, learn how to lead, learn what it really means to manage.  Don’t think continued industry and product education is enough, it isn’t.  Research shows what reps value more than anything is a manager who knows how to coach, so go learn what it truly means to coach.

Sales execs, don’t make the mistake of average managers by assuming managers don’t need coaching.  I know you are busy, but not too busy to help them help their team grow sales!

Watch a brief video on what sales leaders should be doing to drive more sales growth

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