Coaching Sales Managers
Moving to Improved Sales Team Performance
Most sales managers have had no training as a manager of people when they are placed in charge of managing from two to fifty people in sales. True, they have the selling skills and were top producers in their former life as a sales person.
However, the skills for a top sales person and the skills for a top manager of sales people are not the same and are usually counter to effective practices. Examples are: as a sales person their were lone wolfs-as a sales manager they are team players; in the past they developed accounts – now they must develop their people; before they were an employee – now they are part of the management team; and the list of opposite skills sets goes on!
What is a sales manager to do if they are expected to hit their forecasts each quarter, know their customers better than anyone else, and put their credibility on the line to get things done on a timely basis each day. There are several methods for a sales manager to get better.
One way is a comprehensive sales manager training and development program, whereby the manager is exposed to methods and techniques that are used by the best sales mangers today.
Another way is to be mentored by an existing sales manager than has demonstrated high levels of competency and results oriented development of sales teams. (Only issue is most sales managers have more to do than they have time to do it – therefore, mentoring another sales manager becomes a hit and miss exercise.)
Finally, the third method is to engage a business advisor to coach the sales manager in the best practices of sales management and leadership. This method not only provides basic development for the new sales manager, it also provides the fine tuning necessary for an experienced sales manager to move to the next level of sales team performance.
One 2 One Sales Manager Coaching…
Sales managers in the one to one coaching engagement can expect to learn how to recruit, select and retain higher quality sales people, how to develop specific measurement matrix for higher performance and alignment with company strategic goals; methods to motivate each member of the sales team; improve communication channels with the sales team, top managers and peer managers.
Candidates for Coaching
New Sales Managers –
Need immediate assistance in learning the ropes for managing people rather than accounts. Both research and executive forums have uncovered a serious performance gap with first time managers and their abilities and understanding of the best methods to lead their new sales team. Usually, without the advantage of training or coaching, new sales managers create a serious credibility gap with their top producers. This gap has and will lead to your best sales people leaving an organization to find a better situation and a manager they can relate to without all the issues.
Sales Managers needing to move to the next level –
The major advantage of sales manager coaching is the fine tuning of their performance. This leads them to the next or higher level of performance. Outside influence can show the pathway to reach higher goals and levels of performance. Fresh ideas can be imputed into their mindset to stimulate creativity and breakouts from the status quo.
Communication Challenged Sales Managers –
Here we have a case of people who are usually knowledgeable in their field, are capable of good decisions, yet, have difficulty in communicating their goals, ideas, methods, and motivational needs to their sales team (and sometimes to their peers and higher ranking managers) effectively. These people need to learn how to communicate to all people at any time and get their message across with the meaning intact.
Sales Managers who are out of touch with current selling conditions –
it is often assumed that if you have been in sales and were successful, then it is easy for you to transfer this information to new sales team members. In many cases, the type of selling (more likely the type of buying) that is occurring in your markets have changed dynamically during the past decade. Thus, the rules of selling have changed and if the sales manager is not actively engaged in continuous learning and staying in touch with their customer / market – they will be leading with techniques that are considered “old school” or being out of touch with current realities. These managers need a quick course in the new realities of selling and someone to discuss how to implement this information in their unique marketplace situations.
Final Word of Advice
In the coaching world, real time experience and knowledge of the total selling environment is a critical factor to success. Be aware of the real selling experience and managerial experience of a sales manager coach. Ivory tower and academic sources may lack the real world experiences necessary for the applications of principles, concepts and methods necessary for real time successes in the sales world. Selling and sales management require a level of sophistication for dealing with the multiple factors of people and systems in both their companies and the customers’ companies.