How to Coach Your Sales Management Team

BY Kathy Crosett
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You know you’ve got good people in your sales management positions, but the needle isn’t moving as much as you hoped. You may need to learn more about how to coach your sales management team before you can improve your reps’ performance. Here’s how to do that.

How Your Managers Spend Their Time

First, understand how your sales managers spend their time. In a typical coaching session, only 46% of sales managers always focus on sales skills improvement, according to our research. Unfortunately, these meetings also include product training and policy and process review. These two topics can be easily handled in group sessions by someone other than the sales manager. If your sales managers feel crunched for time, encourage them to steer reps to your training department resources to review product features and policy and process changes.

Gartner research underscores the concern that group sessions won’t be sufficient to bring sales rep performance to the next level. In addition, it’s clear that sales managers are in the best position to conduct coaching because they are “close enough to a seller’s work to understand development areas and learning needs.” However, the Gartner numbers also indicate that only 9% of a sales manager’s time is spent coaching their reps. If your managers are supervising between 8 and 10 reps, their time is limited.

What’s Happening in Coaching Sessions?

Our research also shows that the typical manager meets with sales reps for coaching about once a week. However, there seems to be a disconnect between what managers and reps call coaching. In our Voice of the Sales Rep survey, nearly 50% of reps say they meet with managers for coaching fewer than three times a month. From the reps’ point of view, the top activity taking place during a coaching session is reviewing sales numbers and activity. While this kind of review is important, it doesn’t help reps improve their sales skills.

One way to improve this situation is to free up sales manager time and give them the tools they need to help reps change the outcomes of deals in the pipeline. A good sales coaching management solution allows your managers to understand what each rep needs and to track rep skill development.

Require your managers to use the results of sales skills assessments tests as they plan their coaching strategy. The assessment results reveal their management style and the kind of communication that effectively motivates each rep. When your sales managers adapt their style to the needs of their reps, they’ll see greater productivity.

Your managers may believe that being instantly available to answer every question keeps their reps productive. To some extent, this is true. But the sales reps in your organization can be even more productive if managers coach the reps to think for themselves, especially when reps ask routine questions that the managers have previously answered.

How to Coach Your Sales Management Team

As you think about how to coach your sales management team, encourage them to use the account-​based coaching tool in their sales coaching management platform. Efficient coaching means starting at the beginning of the sales process, in discovery, and identifying any key problem your organization can solve for the prospect.

Sales leaders need managers to be innovators — to be agile and think creatively about repositioning their offerings,” says Jordan Bryan. When sales reps and managers agree to pursue a company, they should creatively apply the information learned during a discovery session. A simple question such as, “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered about them,” posed by the manager to the rep can start the creative thinking process. As the rep reviews the data they’ve stored in the CRM, the manager can lay out a strategy using the account-​based coaching tool. To keep the deal moving, sales managers can assign specific steps for the reps to take and document them, along with the rep’s responses in the sales coaching management platform. Both the rep and manager can easily track progress and prevent the deal from going off the rails.