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April 23, 2019

Don’t Assume Sales Managers Know How to Coach

Behind every good salesperson is an effective sales manager who mentors, coaches and supports – that’s the goal, anyway.

But most people aren’t born sales managers; often, they move up the ranks from top performing sales rep to a leadership role, so they typically need guidance and training.

The Challenge of Providing Good Coaching

It’s not just soft and hard skills sales managers might need help with. Other challenges they face include time constraints, lack of organizational support, and difficulty reaching reps in the field.

If you want to improve your sales pipeline and close more deals, you need to focus on your sales managers. Change rarely happens on the front lines of a sales organization without consistent sales manager involvement.

Yet, sales managers are often consumed with reviewing and reporting numbers to senior leadership as well as focusing on their own mandates. They might also be unclear about the priorities and expectations for coaching their teams, and feel overburdened by non-coaching tasks.

What Kind of Coach Are You?

Of course, sales managers come with their own styles and approaches, too. There are a few different models of coaching, including the ‘present coach’, the ‘caring coach,’ the ‘inspiring coach’ and the ‘rigorous coach.’

The present coach is not just physically present, but also mentally there and engages with his or her team, giving them full attention. The present coach asks good questions rather than telling reps what to do. This helps increase engagement.

The caring coach is one who takes an interest in knowing reps and asks questions about their lives outside the office. The caring coach wants to know the names of children and pets, and takes an interest in their hobbies. The caring coach uses this information to connect with reps and increase the ability to influence their behavior.

The inspiring coach encourages and values creativity and is open to seeing things differently. This type of coach inspires an employee to grow and look at different approaches for getting things done.

The rigorous coach holds employees and him or herself accountable to the set standards. In this case, there is no deviation from standards or expectations.

The best coaches, of course,  possess characteristics of all of the above.

How to Coach the Sales Manager

Once you recognize why it’s important to help sales managers become better coaches, the next step is figuring out how to do this in your organization. You should design a coaching experience that works for the sales manager and their team, so seeking input is a good way to start.

There should also be buy-in from upper management and recognition and support for sales managers, even if it means bringing in outside coaching help to show them how to coach their reps more effectively.

It’s also important to set expectations. Don’t reinvent the wheel; replicate the approaches top-producing managers take to show others how they can get better results.

They should also be given time during the day to review and analyze both individual and team results. This will enable the sales manager to figure out where performance gaps exist so he or she can home in on those areas in the coaching process.

Provide your sales managers with the necessary tech tools to give them visibility into which reps need help with what. Virtual coaching systems can support their coaching efforts, increase a manager’s efficiency and improve their overall effectiveness.

Last, make your sales manager feel valued by rewarding them and letting them know they are important to the organization. Managers are people too, and a little can go a long way toward improving results — and your business’ reputation as a good employer.

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