Sales Coaching – Are Sales Managers Any Good at This Function?

I’ve written extensively about sales coaching before. Yesterday, a fairly typical day, I coached 4 different sales experts and 2 clients on how to more effectively coach salespeople and sales managers.  I have noticed that most sales managers believe that they’re fairly good at coaching when, in reality, most of them are very ineffective at it.  Why?

First, let’s look at what’s required for effective coaching. Some of it is tangible and measurable while some isn’t. Effective Sales Coaching requires:

  • great listening skills
  • great questioning skills
  • no Need for Approval
  • that the sales coach not be Too Trusting
  • no assuming
  • a strong grasp of the sales process
  • common sense sales strategy
  • large mastery of appropriate sales tactics
  • debriefing skills
  • role-playing skills
  • confidence

These skills are all interdependent so even if a manager possesses many of these skills, lacking even one or two would still render their coaching ineffective at best.  For example, what if a sales manager owned the entire list except for role-playing skills?  She would never be able to demonstrate the best practice required.  If she owned the entire list except the company did not have a formal sales process (OMG’s data reveals that 91% of companies lack a formal sales process) it would be difficult for her to put the scenario into the proper context of time (when it should happen) and space (where it should happen).  If she owned the entire list except mastery of sales tactics it would be very difficult for her to discuss how it should happen.  If she owned the entire list except for debriefing skills, it would be very challenging for her to identify the underlying problem behind the issue at hand.

In my experience, most sales managers lack MOST of the skills on my list.

The second part of the coaching equation is frequency.  Salespeople need to be coached daily!  Most sales managers only provide coaching as needed.

The third part of the equation is consistency. The coaching process should be the same each time you coach a salesperson.  You want your salespeople to be comfortable with this process!

The fourth part of the equation is the credibility factor. Salespeople must trust you, respect you and have a good relationship with you.  If any of that is missing you’ll have a much more difficult time getting salespeople to have faith that your coaching is on the mark.

Finally, the last part of the equation is accountability – sales managers must hold salespeople accountable for implementing the lessons learned in each coaching session.

How effectively are you at coaching your salespeople?