Throughout the years the sales industry has done a pretty darn good job of determining the tools, resources, training, metrics, and methodologies that sales people need to execute against in order to hit their sales objectives. As a producer myself I appreciate this fact, but it is not enough!
Where the sales industry continues to fall woefully short is by not taking a similar approach that is in place for sales producers and bringing the same clarity, discipline, and structure one-level up to the sales management team. What are the resources that sales managers need to do their jobs effectively? What are their high-payoff activities? Where is their on-going development? And perhaps most importantly, what is their methodology to help them ensure that every sales rep on their teams achieve levels of success that they could not attain without their manager's help, support, education, and guidance?
From a sales producer’s perspective, when you cut through all of the noise, the best resource that you can provide me, is a great sales manager, or as I prefer to say, great sales coach - nobody enjoys being managed. But, sales departments continue to make the same mistakes that they have been making for decades when it comes to actually providing their sales reps with great sales coaches.
Most notably promoting high performing reps into management positions, even though they do not possess the skill sets that will make them a great coach, and by continuing to put people in management roles without providing them the proper training, on-going development, resources, and methodologies that allow them to be a truly successful coach.
We all know that sales managers are responsible for hitting a much bigger number than any individual producer, so what can sales departments begin to do to help them improve as sales coaches? Below are 3 great places to begin.
1) Measure – In order to have an understanding on how effective your sales management team is today, the first place to begin is by creating an objective baseline measurement for how well your managers are coaching their reps. By objectively measuring sales coaching, sales leaders will have information that will paint a picture about where opportunity gaps exist for them to drive more sales performance by becoming a better manager and coach. Our members are always searching for ways to improve by assessing their coaching skills through their Through the Eyes of the Sales Rep diagnostic tool.
2) Educate and Train – All too often what we here from sales managers, young and old, is that when they got promoted this is how the scenario unfolded. Congratulations! You are now a sales manager, here is the number you are responsible for hitting, here is your team, here is your credit card, go make it happen! Of course I am being a bit dramatic for the sake of this blog, but that scenario is not far off. In order to help sales managers become successful it is imperative that sales departments help them understand what to do to be most effective as sales leaders and how to do it well. Remember, sales leaders are coming from the sales producer world where they have a pretty clear path about how to hit their number – the same clarity needs to be brought the sales management world.
3) Implement a coaching methodology – There is not a sales department in the country that does not want their sales managers to have a better understanding of how to coach their sales reps to more performance. The challenge is once sales managers are educated and trained, how do sales departments make sure that their managers are executing against the high-payoff activities and that the activities are getting done consistently and they are getting done well. The best answer to this challenge is to implement a sales coaching methodology that can be implemented and executed successfully. One that can be measured for effectiveness and one that can be analyzed and tracked to allow managers to make the necessary changes to always be improving their sales coaching abilities.
As the picture above points out, sales performance begins with the sales manager. Now is the time to start converting your sales managers into great sales coaches; because nothing impacts sales team performance more than great coaching!
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