Your salespeople are already looking to their managers for support and guidance. It’s up to you to make sure your sales managers have the right coaching skills and behaviors, aligned with the consistent values, processes and methods your sales organization has committed to.
It’s a well-accepted fact in most organizations that reinforcement is key to getting the full benefits of sales training and development initiatives. The question is, who do your salespeople rely on for that critical reinforcement piece?
A recent CSO Sales Performance study of more than 1,000 firms with sales teams revealed that 69% of sales training reinforcement is conducted by managers. This reliance on manager reinforcement and coaching makes it essential for sales managers to be successful in their roles and grounded in the tenets of sales development and coaching.
Numerous studies have shown that employees who have had manager coaching outperform peers, are more engaged, apply more discretionary effort and are more promotable. What’s more, companies that consistently focus on developing and growing their sales teams show significantly better performance.
But even those managers who have excellent managerial skills don’t necessarily know how to coach. Just as troubling, the managers in your organization who are coaching their salespeople may not be coaching to the desired behaviors, attitudes and values, aligned with the approved sales processes and approaches. This could be one reason why, according to CSO’s data, only one in five companies have a 90% adoption rate among sales representatives when it comes to using company-approved sales methods.
Here are just a few of the common coaching roadblocks:
Making time for coaching. With duties for sales forecasting, reporting, day-to-day management and pressures to meet quotas, coaching can sometimes fall to the wayside. But with business results on the line and the statistics to back up its importance, coaching needs to be treated as the priority it is.
Not recognizing who benefits from sales coaching. Some 50% of organizations say they need help identifying who needs sales coaching. What’s most important to recognize is that coaching isn’t just for new salespeople or those who have reached plateaus. It’s also what keeps top performers engaged, motivated and continually reaching for new milestones—and not looking for opportunities to jump ship. This is only becoming more important as millennials expect their managers to take an active role in their career success.
Managers feeling unprepared to coach. Most managers don’t come to the role with effective coaching skills. Not only that, they may not recognize the full value and benefits of coaching, for their star players as well as those who are just starting out. When there’s no clear commitment to coaching from the organization, it only exacerbates the problem. Organizations need to give their managers the skills, framework and tools to be successful, and that commitment needs to come from the top.
Misaligned beliefs and attitudes. The most effective sales coaching helps people transform the mindsets and beliefs that could be holding back their successes. To get there, though, managers may have to shift their own beliefs—about what different salespeople bring to the table and how to bring out each person’s best by adapting behaviors to build a more productive, open relationship.
Confusing coaching with performance management. Many managers—and even leaders—say they coach when, in fact, they’re evaluating and correcting. This creates an atmosphere of fear where few want to be “coached” because it’s simply code for corrective action or a discussion about lagging performance.
Your salespeople are already looking to their managers for support and guidance. It’s up to you to make sure your managers have the right coaching skills and behaviors, aligned with the consistent values, processes and methods your sales organization has committed to, to fulfill this key role.
And once they know their managers are dedicated to understanding and supporting their individual strengths and potential, your entire sales team will be more engaged, productive and motivated to achieve.