You may have never asked if you are the best sales coach in your company. After all, many of us believe that much of what happens in sales depends on the buyer’s whims and the sales rep’s relationship with the prospect. While that may be true to some extent, a commitment by the manager to deliberately coach and develop sales reps makes a huge difference for the company’s bottom line and the career of the reps.
The Definition of Insanity
Yes, in sales we all obsess over the numbers. It’s easy to let that obsession take over — until all you are focused on is the end of the month or the quarter. Managers spend their time trying to figure out how to make the numbers they agreed to at the beginning of the year. They might find themselves encouraging their reps to offer discounts in order to close deals.
At the end of every quarter, if you are picking yourself up, shaking off the latest stress-out, and preparing to do it all over again, call a time-out. Do you remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
Sales Coaching Definition
You need to change your approach and you should first come up with a sales coaching definition. it should start with coaching your sales reps. Many managers believe the sales coaching definition starts and ends with coaching their reps. Scott Edinger, in his Harvard Business Review post, cites research showing that sales managers give their coaching efforts a score of 79%. The folks they are coaching give them a score of 38%. That’s a pretty wide gap. Our research shows a similar gap. The majority of sales managers we surveyed believe they meet with each rep for coaching on a weekly basis. Only 16% of sales reps agree. While 46% of managers say these sessions always include sales skills improvement, 41% also review the pipeline and 41% do product training. Those last two items aren’t the most effective use of a sales manager’s time. They fall outside of the sales coaching definition. You can handle a pipeline review through email and someone outside of sales can cover product training for your reps. Those are easy steps to take to free up time for real coaching.
If you want your reps to improve their productivity and close more deals, you must know where they are faltering in the sales process. A good sales skills assessment will quickly reveal a rep’s strengths and weaknesses. You can merge that information with a developmental and personalized sales coaching platform to help your reps overcome the obstacles that slow them down. You can also track each rep’s progress and review their improvement on a regular basis.
The Best Sales Coach in Your Company
While you might wish for a change in mindset on the part of your reps, that change should start with you. Monitor exactly how you spend your time on a daily basis and identify opportunities to work more efficiently so that you have time to coach. Refine your concept of the sales coaching definition.
You should also encourage your more experienced reps to mentor new reps who may be struggling with a specific aspect of the sales process. In doing so, you ‘create a coaching culture.’ The emphasis should be on improving skills across the sales department and that improvement will deliver what you really want to achieve — higher sales.