Sales managers are no different than anyone else – they don’t have enough time to do all the things they need to do.
This time issue is particularly telling when it comes to front-line sales managers. There is little doubt that front-line managers are the pivotal job for sales success and that coaching is one of their critical contributions.
Yet when it comes to beating the clock, sales coaching is usually one of the early losers. Although it is possible to imagine that more time will be added to clock for sales coaching if top sales management makes the necessary leadership commitments, the most likely scenario is the time you got is the time you have.
So the path forward is primarily about how to more effective and efficiency using the time you have. Let’s look at four ideas:
Move to a one-on-many coaching approach. With today’s technology regardless of distance it is possible to shift from a one-on-one to a one-on-many approach for sales coaching. There are limitations but there are also opportunities. Many sales reps face the same challenges and the same knowledge and skill gaps. Not only are today’s technologies capable of supporting this shift – the ones on the immediate horizon are dazzling.
Focus and prioritize. Even with a one-on-many approach you cannot effectively coach everybody on everything at the same time. You need to prioritize the challenges and performance gaps on which you will coach. And, particularly if you have a large sales team, you will need to coach some people first and some people second. Changing performance is hard – doing a little bit on a lot of things for everyone usually means doing nothing for anyone.
Leverage others. Some where in the sales coaching process there is usually the opportunity to leverage others in your organization to help coach via mentoring or modeling. For example, if you have a top performer who is particularly good at something which is a challenge for others, soliciting their help can be good for the sales team and can be of benefit to the top performer.
Establish a culture of performance accountability. Another way to address the coaching time issue is to get the person on the other side of the table to commit time to the performance improvement objective. In this case that means the sales rep. The manager needs to establish this performance improvement thing as a two way street – I will commit time to help you and you need to devote time to help yourself.
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