A sales director contacted me to talk about an issue he’d noticed with his sales managers. “I was sorting my emails one morning and I saw that all the ones about problems with our accounts were originating from the sales managers, not the reps.”
Whenever I have a chance, I like to talk to participants in my sales management workshop several months afterwards to find out what has stuck with them. One recent conversation with a sales manager touched on a theme that gets mentioned a lot: how to find the line between coaching a rep so they improve (a long-term fix) vs. telling them what to do (a short-term fix).
Great sales managers (and their teams) learn from losses. From a coaching and leadership standpoint, the reasons why your rep lost and the customer’s recommendations for improvement need to be incorporated into your sales best practices immediately and shared with all members of your team.
I always ask sales managers how they allocate their coaching time. Most tell me they spend it two ways:
There’s an old saying that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. I like to apply it to sales management as well as medicine. I see this all the time when sales managers have to deal with performance issues.
I have a challenge for you. The next time you’re talking with your salespeople, ask them to describe the steps of your company’s sales process. Chances are, most of them will have an answer.
There’s an old saying that the most effective strategy is to “hire the wills, coach the skills.” How do you evaluate wills or attitudes during an interview? The trick is to add methodology—meaning structure and consistency—to your approach to hiring.