Reason 1. They’re Focused on Selling, Not Coaching
Since many sales managers climbed through the ranks and became”the “uber” salesperson within their organization, their first instinct is to always pursue the biggest deals. They’ve not been taught the skills of sales management necessary to create a top sales team. Therefore, they follow what they are at ease doing and have become extremely proficient at selling. When they notice something not going right (or at the very least not working well) in a sales transaction, and then they come into the role to “fix” the issue for the sales representative.
This self-help approach could solve an immediate issue (no assurance); however, even if it does help make a sale, it will have negative consequences over the long term.
It erodes the credibility of the salesperson with the client when the boss gets involved. Why would a client ever would want to deal with a salesperson if the true power is in the hands of the manager?
It reduces confidence in salespeople. This is not a good thing.
It doesn’t aid the salesperson in improving their abilities. “Sales interruption” caused by the supervisor of the sale increases the likelihood that the problem will happen again next time.
As a sales leader, one of the kindest actions you can take for your employees is not to help them. If someone asks you an inquiry, you should respond by asking, “What have you done to address the issue in the past? What do you think needs to change?” Making your salespeople involved to solve their own issues is what will end the cycle of perpetual demand. This is how you can aid them in developing their own capabilities, so they can be more accountable.
Stop seeing yourself as a problem-solver instead; start to think of yourself as a facilitator of solutions.
Reason 2. They Under-appreciate the Need for Coaching
The majority of top salespeople have natural talent and abilities as well as instincts. They only required a little training to achieve elite levels. As the sales manager, they pay no attention to coaching since they didn’t need (or received) the most amount of coaching. They let salespeople who aren’t experienced swim or sink on their own, assuming that their sales reps will learn valuable techniques from osmosis similar to how they learned. They don’t realize that coaching can be an opportunity to lift a skilled salesperson out of the rut or slump.
Consider how you used your time during the past week and the last month. What proportion of it was used to help your reps build their abilities or thinking about the steps they must take to assist a client in their buying journey? If you don’t have the answer more than 50%, then you’re not maximizing your time as an executive. (See the next section.)
Reason 3. They Don’t Have the Time
Recently I was hired by a Fortune 500 company to examine their job description for the position of sales manager. Nearly 85 percent of the responsibilities were directly related to the coaching of salespersons. (I’ve looked over a variety of descriptions of sales manager jobs through the time, and this was among the most impressive.)
I conducted interviews face-to-face with several sales managers. I found only 5 percent of the time is actually focused on coaching. Five percent! Another way to put it would be to say that the sales manager spent most of their time working on just 15 percent of their duties. Why is this?
One of the main reasons was the fact that sales managers spent three hours per day responding to more than 150 emails, hardly any of that were from their sales teams. That’s not even including all the paperwork, meetings, as well as firefighting. It’s a long list of “urgencies” that sales professionals must address that is endless today.
With all the issues sales managers have to contend with, The first thing to get tossed out is coaching for development, time spent helping their salespersons develop their skills (not only closing one sale). They’ve not observed the salesperson selling or intervened at essential points of the sales process; therefore, when a salesperson is at 75 percent of their quota, they don’t know what’s going on.
The solution? Begin by putting an end to interruptions that aren’t productive. Create a list of your top 5 interruptions that you are experiencing and devise specific steps to limit their impact on your day-to-day routine. Perhaps it’s shutting off the phone, or closing the door to your Smartphone or closing the door to your office, or simply not paying attention to that tiny “you’ve received mail” sound coming from your computer. Perhaps it’s a salesperson who has been told that you are “Needy.”
Next, take only 30 seconds to note down the top three goals you have of your team’s sales. Next, take a few moments to think about the six tasks you, as a manager, should be doing daily and day out in order to assist your team reaches the three goals? If you don’t have an appropriate name, let’s refer to this as your “3-6-No list.” Keep this list handy throughout your day. If something comes up that’s not in line with the items on the list, simply say No. It’s going to initially be difficult. The majority of sales managers are reluctant to let go. However, you must be spending the majority of your time on either business development or sales tasks. Anything which takes time is not a high priority.
Based on my interactions with a multitude of sales managers in the last 30 years, one of the most frequent errors I have seen is that sales managers spend the majority of their time dealing in the company of their worst performers or their top performers.
The focus on the worst performers is a mistake. Let’s say your coaching efforts produce an increase of 10% in the production of your lowest performers. What is the difference between your figures? It’s not too much.
The idea of focusing your coaching sessions one-on-one on your top performers isn’t the best idea. What impact can you improve their sales efficiency? Do you need to talk with them about their goals for their careers? Absolutely. Recognize their essential work on the team? Yes, absolutely. However, don’t devote the majority of your sales training time to them as they’re less likely to be able to improve.
The best solution is to take an idea from the medical field as well as “triage” your sales force. Most likely, your top performers and the most experienced/tenured employees will be able to survive no matter how much time you’ll are spending with them. Recognize them and praise them. Keep motivating them, but don’t waste time with them in the field conducting one-on-one coaching sessions.
The same applies to your lowest performers. They probably will not succeed, So why would you not give them all your time. (Come to think about it, why do they still part of the team?) You can’t afford to ignore them. The middle performers are able to be high performers and deserve the majority of your attention.
Thus, the best strategy to maximize your profits is to have group time with the lowest performers. You should spend the majority of your individual field coaching sessions in your “emerging contributors,” the salespersons who stand the most excellent chance of becoming top performers if they discover what you’ve taught them.
Focusing on your new contributors could provide you with multiple benefits throughout your career in sales management. You might begin to witness emerging contributors speed over your sales leaders! Another advantage is that you’ll have a more significant number of top performers, and the gap between top and lower producers will increase. Bottom producers who are determined to survive will be more committed to pushing up their output.
No More Excuses
There are many similarities in selling to customers or coaching salespeople. Both require understanding the issues of another and identifying the root of the problem, and assisting others to recognize the causes and ripple effects in the event that they are unable to resolve the issue. Sales managers already have many of the capabilities they require to be successful sales coaches. However, their own mistakes or misperceptions have kept sales managers from using these abilities to build an elite, high-performance sales team.
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