Today’s sales managers need to lead and coach their sales force instead of managing and directing the team. Unfortunately, when sales managers aren’t coaching – because they don’t know how – they tend to get caught up with blaming their reps for failures on the part of the sales team instead of looking at themselves. There are three elements of success that sales managers must incorporate into their work if they want a high level of performance from their sales team.
3 Reasons Your Sales Managers Aren’t Coaching Their Reps
If your sales managers aren’t coaching their salespeople, then it’s likely they lack an understanding of one or more of these 3 fundamentals:
- An understanding of the proper mix of coaching and management techniques
- An ability to engage individual sales team members in a way that resonates with that person’s unique style, and
- Driving sales focus on high gain activities
With these three principles in mind, a sales manager can close the opportunity gap and make sure that they are coaching and leading their team to success.
Learning How To Manage And Coach
Volumes of books, college courses, and seminars have all been created to help professionals become better managers. In sales, proper management and coaching means a dedication to company revenue goals and the ability to hold a two-way interaction with the sales team. In a Forbes article, Scott Edinger says that in some cases, sales managers are promoted to their role simply because of success that they had as a sales rep. Because of this, they receive little training and believe that they simply need to tell their reps what to do and everyone will be successful.
This approach could not be further from the truth. Although there needs to be a link between sales goals and rep activity, great sales managers need to lead and coach by asking questions and interacting with their team members. Management is a dialogue, not a monologue. Sales managers should provide feedback in a non-critical way and collaborate on a plan with their reps to help them find success.
Engaging Sales Team Members
While there are certain management skills that are applicable to all managers, it is also important that managers tailor their programs around the specific environment and sales reps that they are working with. When sales managers aren’t coaching, it’s likely that a major reason is that they lack an understanding of individual personalities and how to work with them. Dr. Michael Leimbach at Wilson Learning states that the best coaches work in context, meaning they coach based upon changes in the environment. When sales managers aren’t coaching, it’s a sign they need to learn how to lead and coach individuals as well. Dr. Leimbach goes on to say that the best sales managers let their salespeople set their goals, which keeps them more engaged and helps them own their goals much more than they would if their goals were set by the company.
Focus On High Gain Activities
The final step for successful sales coaching is helping reps maximize their use of time. One of the most helpful guidelines for focusing on high gain activities is Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. On his blog, sales expert Brian Tracy says that in a sales context, Pareto’s Principle means 20% of your activities are responsible for 80% of your results. When sales managers aren’t coaching, they’re not helping their reps spend more time focusing on the 20% of activities that will bring them the most results. Successful sales performance often begins with successful sales management. Incorporating these three ideas into your sales management will help push your sales team to new heights. For more information about how sales managers need to lead and coach their reps to close the opportunity gap, download the eBook.