One of the biggest obstacles to building a potent sales culture is when you have a lot of Sales Managers that don't know how to sell and can't give credible demonstrations and examples of how to use key selling tools. When this is the case, it is ESSENTIAL to develop support resources and DEDICATED Sales Coaches that can fill that gap. These Sales Coaches ideally need to report either to Training or to a dedicated Sales Coaching Manager so they get the right support and guidance they need.
We have found that this approach is often a faster way to build a powerful sales coaching culture than trying to train and convince Sales Managers to become Sales Coaches that simply don't have the background, experience and credibility to make that leap.
"The truth is, we spent a lot of time and money training our Sales Managers on sales coaching and their results really didn't improve much. When we dug down to figure out what was happening, we realized that they liked coaching their people on strategy and account development pipeline stuff but never seemed to have time for training drills. This happened with at least 75% of our Sales Managers. It wasn't until we focused on their bosses, the Regional Sales Managers and got them more involved in managing for more skills coaching that we saw some real improvement. The key for us was to put our best Sales Coaches into a training role of working with Sales Managers to show them how to do it the right way. That's what really accelerated the process."
Michael P. - SVP Sales - Commercial Real Estate
"We made two big mistakes in trying to build our sales culture. First, we really under estimated how must resistance we would get from Sales Managers. They said they wanted to do it, but in reality, they really didn't. Second, we never focused our resources on a small region and got it going there first to demonstrate to the rest of the company what we wanted. We were always working on the whole sales force all the time and that diffused our resources so much that it just never moved the needle.
We took your advice and dedicated 2 of our Sales Trainers to staying in one Region and dedicating all their time to demonstrating how to coach. That made a huge difference. In fact, that was the real key to our improvement. If traditional Sales Managers don't see really good sales coaching in action, live, with their own people, they just can't see themselves doing it. Dedicated Sales Coaches to jump start the process is definitely the way to go, at least for us it was."
Daniel F. - SVP Sales
We have found that most Sales Managers need to see an effective demonstration of Sales Coaching in action before they will make the transition and become an effective Sales Coach. Most Sales Managers never worked for a good Sales Coach and weren't really coached themselves so they don't have a mental paradigm of what it's like to coach or be coached. It is critical to introduce, for a short time, a "Training Coach" to work side-by-side with Sales Managers to demonstrate the skills building exercises live. This needs to become a competency of the Sales Trainers. When Sales Trainers can do this, they will have much more impact than a 2-3 day Sales Coaching training will have on its own. This is nearly ALWAYS the missing link.
Outline of Key Points in this chapter:
Consider for a moment how sports team coaches spend the bulk of their time. The coach of the olympic gymnastics team is not in her office looking at data reports while her gymnasts are practicing. Instead, she is there watching, observing, teaching, correcting and recognizing improvement. This is nearly always what's missing in the interactions between Sales Coaches and their Sales Team. They tend to manage from a distance and focus on goals, objectives and strategy when the team members need skills. Consider the Sales Person that is leaving terrible voice mail messages or can't start a conversation with an effective agenda and has a very ineffective explanation of the company's competitive advantages. What good will hours of goal setting do for this person? What he/she needs is skills coaching first and this is what great Sales Managers do better than the rest.
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"I don't know how other companies approach this, but for us, the real problem was that no one was really coaching the Sales Managers at the field level. Our Regional Sales VP's didn't understand how to do it and really didn't have the time for it. What we did is take our best Sales Coach and promoted her to the role of Sales Coach VP. Her role was to do competency coaching with the front line Sales Managers. That really worked. First, she was a great coach that really had selling skills so she was credible, but more importantly, she never got bogged down with administrative work and all the stuff that Sales Managers complain about that gets in the way. Her focus was completely on teaching Sales Managers how to coach, side-by-side. That was the best decision we made in the entire process. The two months that you guys at Dycoco spent with her to show her how to do it was critical as well. You have a lot more experience at it than we did and her learning curve accelerated dramatically."
Peter V. - EVP Sales
Luxury Hotel Sales
The Two Interactions That Matter Most (focus here!)
By far, the most neglected of the 4 tasks is skills coaching. Most Sales Managers do little or none of this even after they've been through training on Sales Coaching. Talking about pipelines, strategizing on process steps and setting goals is not skills coaching. Most Sales People fail because they get into bad habits when it comes to how they communicate with customers and prospects. Skills coaching is the best way to change this but remarkably, the least used. More time running practice sessions, skills drills and sales simulation exercises is the key to building a highly skilled sales team.
Chapter Overview and Selected Quotes likely to be used
In a sales organization, the two interactions that matter most are the interactions between Sales Managers and their Sales People and the interactions between front line Sales Managers and their boss, the Sales Executive. When effective coaching is happening in these interactions the Sales Team gets better and better. This is often the missing link, in terms of good coaching, that can create a powerful sales culture.
Creating the skills and discipline so that Sales Managers rigorously coach their Sales Teams is is a tough challenge that yields the best results. It is worth the effort. What Sales Managers typically resist is the skills practice element of coaching. When they learn how to conduct practice drills, run training segments in sales meetings and use effective simulations to coach their Sales Team, it opens up a lot of new opportunity.
Virtually every Sales Executive wants their Sales Managers to do more coaching. Often, however, the Managers that manage the Sales Managers are not coaching them to do it. This is nearly always a missing link that needs to be addressed with training and rigorous follow-up. The way for Sales Executives to build a great sales coaching culture is simple, but not easy:
"We decided, at some point, we had a lot of Sales Managers that just didn't have the credibility to do the kind of skills training and coaching we wanted. So what we did is dedicate some of our best Trainers to being full-time Sales Coaching Trainers. What an impact that had. Instead of just doing training classes, they were assigned to teams for a period of 90-days and they would do the skills coaching tasks that Sales Managers never seemed to find the time to do. As the Sales People started responding, their Sales Managers noticed and became a lot more interested in what was happening and some of them learned how to do it. The truth is, some Sales Managers are good at performance management but not so good at doing the skills reinforcement part of Sales Coaching. Instead of fighting it, we just re-allocated resources and that worked a lot better for us. We don't need as many Sales Managers doing the performance management stuff anymore. The more we focused on skills building at the coaching level, the fewer problems our Sales Team created."
Angela S. - EVP Sales