Sales Coaching Blog

Sales Management: What You Won't Hear From Your Sales Reps

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

August 7, 2015

As sales leaders, we all want our sales people to sell more, and the good news is they want to sell more as well. 

Due to this common objective, we put sales people through advanced sales training, we equip them with the best products and differentiate our services in a way that should enhance how much gets sold.  We adopt the latest CRM with cutting edge apps, we intricately track their sales pipeline and get thorough feedback as to how it was created and what it consists of, which then allows us to forecast with greater accuracy.  We have a great comp program, annual sales meetings to celebrate their accomplishments and by surveying our sales people we learned of some non-productive duties that we were able to remove from their plates, thereby creating more time for them to sell. 

There is so much to consider!  However, what sales people need and what they want are two different animals.  They want obstacles removed, they want more leads, they want less admin work—who doesn’t want those things!  However, what sales people need to produce at higher levels, one will rarely if ever hear.  But, if you are waiting for the sales people to articulate what they need in order to sell more, what you will likely hear will take you down the wrong performance improvement path.  This is not because sales people aren’t truthful or won’t disclose, but because they don’t know, and even if they did know most wouldn’t ask for it.

So, in that spirit, below is what you won’t hear from your sales people. 

“Get me a great coach”

The most valuable sales asset, the most effective growth tool a sales producer can have at their disposal--is a great coach.  The person to whom they report (formerly referred to as a manager) that knows not just how to review a spreadsheet, but how to elevate a sales person’s performance to levels not possible without their coaching relationship.  EcSell research shows that what a rep wants most from their “manager”--is for them to have a deep knowledge of their respective products.  But, our research also shows the #1 item that a rep needs to sell at higher levels--is a manager who knows how to coach. 

“Get to know everything about me”

When speaking to groups of sale leaders, I often ask them to raise their hand if they know the goals of their sales people, and inevitably most every hand is raised.  I then ask them to keep their hands in the air if they understand all the goals of those on their team, which than causes most hands to drop.

The #2 driver of “motivation to sell” is a coach that helps a rep “progress towards their career objectives”.  Without knowing this, a coach unknowingly implies they only have a sales interest in their rep, without caring about them as a whole person.  Taking a genuine interest in all they desire drives discretionary effort from those on your team.

“Make me uncomfortable”

Anyone who stays too long in order, or doing the same thing, will eventually stagnate and performance will wane. A critical duty of a high performance coach is to know your reps so well that you know how to give them the right amount of challenge.  Give them something new to accomplish, ask them for a higher goal, help them create a plan to set a new sales record.  Hold your reps to higher levels of accountability, always building on their strengths.   Stretching them this way causes change, which leads to discomfort.  And never forget--we only grow when we are uncomfortable. 

All the above is not to imply that what reps want is not important, for it is.  As coaches it is critical to actively listen to what they want, and do our best to provide it if it meets the three legged stool test; what they desire must be in the best interest of 1. the company, 2. the client, and 3. the sales rep.  But, remember that what you don’t hear is what will likely grow sales.

Topics: sales coaching

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