Managing a sales team as a coach, not a manager

Not many people go to universities and colleges to learn about sales and marketing mainly because the sales talents and techniques are mostly taught on the sales field. The learning of sales techniques is widely done through coaching and formal development. The unfortunate part is that most of the effort put into training fail to attain the desired objective mainly because of the absence of reinforcement or coaching. In fact based on recent research, there is an 87% drop in the knowledge acquired in some sales and marketing training offered.

Most organizations that deal with sales and services have decided to invest more in improving sales coaching. They are opting to spend more on sales coaching because there is no other productivity investment that can come close to coaching to improve sales representatives’ performance. However, not all sales representatives that are coached do better. Even with the help of the best coaches, coaching targeted to the wrong sales representatives is worthless.

Sales coaching targeted to the right group or individual can help achieve the sales potential. In fact that all the coaching is about, ensuring sales reps can reach their full sales potential. Whether it is an individual or it is a company there is some untapped sales potential that can only be achieved through the correct sales coaching.

Sales coaching is not all about the forecast of numbers management, but rather it is a field that require high levels of expert techniques. The answer to successful sales coaching lies in one on one coaching with professionals. So how do the professionals do it? How do the professionals ensure that their coaching is effective?

Developing a clear line of sight between business outcomes, sales actions, and sales goals

As much as leaders or in this case managers are usually encouraged to focus on the bigger picture, there comes a time during sales coaching whereby it’s important for the leader to focus mostly on the tactical elements of execution. It is important for the head to align the sale goals with the sales action because as much as a leader might try he can only manage the activities of the sales representatives and not the outcome. If a manager effectively manages the sales efforts of his sales rep team, it naturally leads to the achievements of the company’s set goals. Repeating this again and again in the end ensures the business realizes it full potential.

Coach by asking not telling

A vast number of sales managers are promoted based on their achievements. Without proper management guidance, the managers coach by telling the sales reps what to do. Professional sales coaches work hand in hand with their teams thereby understanding the underlying issues and jointly diagnosing what is not working and what is working developing an action plan to achieve the set objectives.

Professionals ask questions to their team members to help the team members be able to frame issues appropriately and provide constructive feedback. It is in this process that practical guidance by sales managers is critical, and that comes from asking rather than telling.

In sales coaching, there is no silver bullet but rather intense alignment and focus together with the right conversation with the representative. As simple as it may sound this can make a significant difference in the output by the sales representatives.

By extension when the sales reps grow, the manager grows with them. Avoid spending time managing the sales team from your office and start coaching them while they play and practise on the field.