August 17, 2015

If Sales Managers Are Not Coaching Their Salespeople Then Who Is?

The title of this post isn’t meant to be rhetorical. I’m serious. If sales managers can’t coach, won’t coach, or don’t know how to coach their people, then who is?

Back in the day (I have enough gray hair now to use that expression), sales managers were the ones responsible for developing their people. Many took great pride and satisfaction in mentoring those under their charge to greatness. Today, not so much. Sales leaders are consumed by large administrative burdens, buried in crap by their companies, and playing firefighter-in-chief instead of sales squadron leader. Way too many managers are attempting to “lead” (I use that word very loosely here) their teams via email while their eyeballs are glued to CRM screens. Honestly, it’s pretty sad. It’s also having a devastating effect on sales performance and the personal and career development of salespeople.

As a young sales pup, I benefitted greatly by being mentored and coached by sales managers, other executives, and by veteran salespeople in companies where I worked. These people invested in my development. They showed me how to prepare for and conduct sales calls. They taught me how to pack for a business trip, where to get the best shoe shine (pre-1999, the TWA Concourse at STL Lambert was known across the US as the top spot), and they modeled for me how to deal with difficult customers. I owe much of what I know about sales and much of the success I’ve experienced to those who coached me.

In Sales Management. Simplified. (coming in October), I share stories of the specific ways various managers and executives coached me — in the office, on trips, pre and post-sales calls, for big presentations. But you don’t need to wait until October to begin coaching salespeople! Dave Brock and I are in the midst of leading a free 90-day survival course for sales managers. The good folks at OpenView Venture Partners / OpenView Labs asked us to write weekly posts, share other relevant material, and to facilitate a webinar specifically focused on sales coaching. This upcoming one hour session is free, not just for OpenView’s portfolio companies, but to the public as well.

In my typical mellow, non-confrontational style, I am going to gently point out the biggest time suckers and distractions keeping sales managers from coaching their people, and make the strongest case I can that in order to truly improve sales culture and results, sales leaders must reallocate their time to high-value, revenue-driving activities. And yes, that means that spending time with sales reps, whether by phone, in your office or their cubicle, riding shotgun in the passenger seat, along on a sales call, or in sales team meetings, is more valuable than staring at your CRM screen, pounding out emails at 4:30 in the morning, or sitting in on non-sales related corporate conference calls!

Please join Dave Brock and me this coming Thursday, August 20th, at Noon EDT, that’s 9:00 am out in lovely Orange County where Brock lives (and continually boasts about the weather). Click here for more info and to register.

Here’s a post from the current OpenView series that may just whet your appetite enough to put Thursday’s webinar on your calendar: Your #1 Priority as a Sales Manager (Plus 3 Things to Stop Doing Now)

No, coaching isn’t soft, or just some nice to do sales management activity that you may or may not get to depending on workload. Frankly, it’s one of the very highest uses of a sales leader’s time and very best ways to drive improved sales results.