Sales coaching has garnered a lot of interest in today’s competitive market place and it is easy to understand why. Industry research shows that effective sales Training can radically improve performance and in some cases drive up revenues by 20% or more. In fact, a Sales Management Association study found that companies that spent more on the overall training of their managers rather than salespeople were 15% more likely to achieve their revenue goals. No doubt a sales manager has a major impact on his team’s ability to meet the targets. It’s a ripple effect when the manager is better at his job, it’s the same with people under him.
The 5 most common sales coaching challenges and how to overcome
What to coach on, not enough time to coach: Coaching requires a different set of skills than selling. In fact many sales managers lack the skill sets of a coach and don’t know what to coach and the training session ends up in generic conversations. This is the result of not identifying critical metrics, such as where sales representatives should focus, how to approach the market, what success looks like, etc. Solution is interaction with the team members. If you analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the individual representatives and map out their day-to-day activities, you’ll always have many things to coach on.
Sales managers have multiple tasks, including managing a sales pipeline, forecasting, strategic planning, sales administration, and hiring new sales representatives. In some organizations sales managers are also held responsible for a target list of accounts.
With all of these responsibilities, many sales managers are too busy to coach their teams. They view their primary role as being the trouble shooter of their team. Every time a sales representative has a problem or needs help dealing with a customer, these sales managers jump in to help.
This “firefighter” approach might be counter-productive in the long run. Instead sales managers should spend more time coaching and developing their sales teams. The benefits of this approach are sales representatives are equipped with better skills so will sell more and solve more of their own problems.
Lack of experience- Managing a sales team is a challenging position requiring a different set of skills. There are numerous instances of extraordinary performances as an individual but a failure as a manager. A sales manager needs to be a friend, philosopher, and guide instead of merely being a trouble shooter. A systematic coaching process needs to be evolved to instill the spirit of seriousness for the session. To get maximum value show that you value the time spent on coaching and your representatives should do likewise. Otherwise, your reps might just see it as a time pass away from selling. The solution is to chalk out a weekly schedule with an agenda for each meeting. Keep a record of what was discussed, and follow up with specific notes and numbers on progress, using the metrics and dashboards you have established. Make coaching a priority in your schedule of work.
Motivation: It is a single factor that can influence a dramatic outcome. But you need to know what motivates someone and what you can provide. The solution is to build purposeful relationships with your employees. Keep channels of communications always open with your team members. Show that you are always with them and concerned for their well-being. Try to better understand your team members, what keeps them going, and find creative ways to help everyone. Develop a positive environment and feel personally motivated to succeed at the highest level.
Ability: Most frontline sales managers were sales representatives promoted into management. Managing human resource is a different ball game, great sales representatives often have a hard time making the transition to management. The main challenge for sales managers is that coaching requires a different set of skills than selling. At the same time, it is also a fact that great coaches aren’t born; they’re made through discipline, hard work, and training. A solution starts by outlining what a great coach looks like in your organization, take the help of a coach’s playbook that outlines plays and goals for each individual and formulate a multi-tiered coaching plan for employees.
Triggers- The pertinent question is how do you know when to start a coaching series? And, how will you ensure the coaching continues? How can you develop a culture of coaching in the team and organization? The solution is set up reminders for yourself for these coaching sessions every single week. Plus, find out creative ways to keep coaching consistently so that your team members are keen to participate in the coaching session.