At EcSell Institute, we have the honor of talking with sales managers day in and day out about the coaching of their sales teams. Based on hundreds of these kinds of conversations with sales managers, it’s clear that most sales managers have a good handle on the best practices that they SHOULD be doing to better develop their team members.
One-to-one meetings, documented feedback on sales skills, de-briefing joint sales calls – all of these are among the most critical activities they believe help drive their team’s success. Which is why most execute these activities to some degree. However, most sales manager will also admit that they do not do these activities as consistently as they should and probably not as effectively as they could. So that begs the question, if most sales managers agree these activities are critical to their team’s success, why don’t they execute them well?
Put simply, sales managers are very busy people. They have internal meetings to attend, colleagues in other departments who have questions for them, reports to prepare for their own managers, customers who need their attention, sales candidates to recruit, and many, many other activities that take up their time.
With all this on their plate, it’s easy to see how coaching their reps can fall down on the priority list. But here’s the rub. Even though reps may not be as demanding of their managers’ time as an angry customer or a sales VP who needs a pipeline update, EcSell Institute research shows that there is nothing that impacts a sales team performance more than sales manager coaching. (Research on manager time allocation can be found here.)
If you’re like many other sales managers and have been struggling with the consistent execution of key coaching activities that you know are essential to the performance of your sales team, then consider the following ideas:
- Identify the most essential coaching activities. According to EcSell Institute research, two of the most critical activities you can do with your reps are consistent, proactive one-to-one meetings and in-depth documented feedback on their selling skills. If you do nothing else to coach your team, we would encourage you to start with these two.
- Ensure you are executing these activities well. Any sales manager can hold a one-to-one meeting with their reps. Only great sales managers make sure these meetings are highly productive. To this end, you should have an agenda of items to discuss, ensure you cover both qualitative and quantitate discussion of their current work and don’t forget to spend some time each meeting further your connection with them. For feedback on selling skills, make sure to document what you discuss, cover the things they did well in addition to the items to approve and be as specific as possible (use concrete examples of what they did and what you want them to do differently).
- Track the consistency of your activities. The only way to ensure that you are executing these key activities is to measure if they are happening. Whether you just use an spreadsheet or a tool like EcSell Institute’s One-Up coaching platform, you need to hold yourself accountable for the commitments to coaching you’ve made to your team.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we have the best intentions and know what to do if we don’t follow through. Our research shows that nothing impact the performance of your team more than your effective coaching. So stop putting other priorities higher on your list. Just do it.
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