The Coaching Effect Blog

Sales Coaching Research: What You Do Matters

Posted by Stacia Jorgensen

October 14, 2014

cookie_cutterSometimes in data analysis, the meaningful findings are the non-significant ones and importance really isn’t important. Today, I gained a greater perspective into how impactful the actual behaviors of a sales managers are to reps in the world of sales coahcing. Let me explain:

Recently, I have been going back through results from our Through the Eyes of the Sales Rep Survey.  This assessment tool consists of a web-based survey distributed to the reps of our members in order to provide direct insight from reps back to their sales managers.

In our survey, we have a set of questions that ask reps how important they believe it is for their manager to exhibit very strong skills in a set of items (coaching their sales skills, product knowledge, industry/market knowledge, driving accountability, helping them progress toward their career goals, helping devise a territory sales plan, and recognizing and rewarding their achievements).

A similar question is asked where reps are asked to rate their managers skills in the following areas.  Simply, the reps are asked two groups of questions – to rate their manager on these skills and then to rate how important it is to them that a manager has these skills.  When it boils down, we’re comparing what their manager’s skills against what they think is important for a manager to exhibit.  

As part of my work, I made a matrix of the correlations for all variables in the survey and used a color gradation to indicate where relationships were the strongest.  I find that being able to visualize data in ways such as this really can bring findings more clearly to the forefront.  In this case, it was the lack of color that really struck me.

We find many significant relationships when reps are asked to rate their manager’s skills on these items.  When we look, however, at what the reps rate as important manager behaviors, we find very little significance.  To state it another way, there are meaningful relationships when we ask reps to rate their managers but very few when we ask them to rate these same behaviors on their importance.  

Why is this?  Why is the importance of manager behaviors not presenting as significant? Since all of these reps already have sales experience, it would seem that they would come to the table with meaningful ideas of what makes a great sales manager.

After pondering these findings, I think this outcome makes a great deal of real-world sense and I hope many find it liberating. What matters to reps goes beyond a cookie-cutter idea of the role of a manager.  While reps can effectively rate their managers, they don’t come to the table with set expectations of manager behaviors. Think about it this way – the idea of what makes a good manager isn’t important.  What matters is what the manager is doing. This should give managers more confidence in using their unique talents, skills, and perspectives to lead their reps beyond stereotypes of leadership in this discipline.

Are you doing all that you can to manage your team beyond the expected?  For more tips on sales coaching and leading a sales team, check us out at

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Topics: sales coaching

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