“The Times They Are a-Changin’” Bob Dylan wrote in 1964.
For sales management, this is a great thing. On more than one occasion in the past month I have heard Senior Sale Executives have an epiphany. Yes, when you have been involved in phone sales for more than a decade you can hear an epiphany. This particular one sounded like a gasp you take at the end of a long day, mixed with a stout punch to the gut. The light bulb has come on!“We have to redefine the role of our front-line sales managers,” Executives keep saying. Amen. I have been lobbying for “sales coach” to replace “sales manager” for years, but perhaps the sales world is methodically getting emotionally ready for that change to occur. One large problem today, or large opportunity if you are half full, is that the responsibilities and expectations of sales managers are archaic. They focus heavily on management practices that are outdated, they are light on leadership, and rarely do they focus on coaching which is the number one factor that motivates sales reps to sell more. And the biggest challenge facing sales departments involves seven words: WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY.
Thankfully there are more than a handful of sales organizations out there who don’t want to drive around in a Model T in today’s world. They are more interested in how management is a component of coaching and not the other way around. They are more apt to want to learn how to create a culture of healthy tension as opposed to a culture of stagnant order. They want to be the force multiplier in their sales reps lives that help them achieve levels of success that they cannot otherwise achieve on their own. Most importantly, they want to measure the coaching activities and behaviors that must occur to achieve all of the items listed above, for when coaching gets measured it becomes a critical sales performance metric.
Here is the rub, effective sales coaching has been made out to be this esoteric unattainable thing by most sales departments. On the other end of the spectrum, coaching has been pigeonholed to be this narrow item that only focuses on teaching the sales methodology or game plan if you will, by sales training companies. The reality is that great coaching lies somewhere in the middle. The behaviors and activities that need to be executed by sales managers are not overwhelmingly new, nor are they unattainable. Coaching is not simply a verb, but it is a strategic position where great management, leadership, and a catalytic factor are needed to maximize sales rep performance.
Will – get to the point and make sales coaching simple for us!
Here you go …
According to research, below are the 5 coaching items that motivate sales reps to sell more. These are the 5 high pay-off sales coaching activities if you are a sales manager:
- Joint call work with reps including pre-call plans and post-call feedback
- 1 on 1 meetings
- Team Meetings
- Career Development plans
- Sales Skills Audits
If you are a sales manager and want to tell the world that you are busy, you had better be busy in those five areas above. If not, you are leaving sales growth on the table with your reps. If you are a sales department and you care about coaching, you had better be able to measure the consistency and quality of coaching that is occurring by your entire management team. If not, you are willingly neglecting 50% of the sales performance metrics you should have available to you and are willingly leaving sales growth on the table.
Like anything in this world, it’s the early adapters that are leading change. It will be the early adapting sales departments that execute against their belief that effective sales coaching allows sales managers to hit their number, that sales coaching should be measured and correlated to results, and that building a world-class sales coaching team will win market share and crush competition. Yes, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” so don’t get caught returning your VHS to a Blockbuster Video that no longer exists while your competitors are watching Netflix from the comfort of their living room couch.
Learn more about how to measure your sales coaching in order to grow more sales by downloading this complimentary white paper: