Virtually every sales leader I’ve met, interviewed. or worked with on a client project has told me their sales organization would improve much quicker and their results would trend up faster if frontline sales managers would get better at coaching. Additionally, at least 90% of all frontline sales managers we’ve worked with want to become better sales coaches too.
So why are so many sales managers mediocre, at best, at sales coaching? From extensive research, we have boiled it down to three specific reasons:
- The first is that most sales managers have a limiting mental model of what sales coaching even is. Because they were most likely not coached very well when they were selling, they didn’t develop the more effective picture of what great sales coaching is. As a result, they tend to repeat what was taught to them which is an over emphasis on metrics, pipeline analysis and data based forecasting. Nothing wrong with this stuff, but it has minimal impact on the most consequential mistakes salespeople make on sales interactions. The kind of coaching that has real impact is closer to the way elite sports coaches work with their athletes which involves drills, repetition, practice and rehearsal. Most sales managers have not idea how to do this.
- The second is that very few sales organizations we’ve analyzed have organized their sales messaging in a way that is easy to learn, understand and master, in terms of verbal fluency. This vital information which includes a concise value proposition and differentiating factors along with core insights to tee up better questions is, unfortunately, often left up to individual sales team members to figure out based on marketing brochure, thick training binders and information gained at sales conferences and planning meetings. When salespeople have to organize it and figure it out themselves, then poor execution is most likely to happen.
- The third is very few sales organizations, even the big ones that spend billions on their sales teams in terms of technology, support and training, have an easy to use coaching practice system that sales managers can access and use on a daily basis to practice and rehearse with their salespeople. This is a big blind spot most sales organizations have and unfortunately, most of the coaching tools they provide are focused on metrics, analysis and preparing the sales manager for better accountability-based interactions with team members. All good stuff, but this is not the kind of coaching elite sports coaches use prepare their athletes for competition.