Sales management coaching – don’t forget those in their 40s and 50s

Sales coaching

Sales coaching

Coaching Millennials – lately much has been written about how to get it right.  What works and what doesn’t?  What best practices are particularly important to keep in mind when coaching the Millennials on your sales team?

This of course is all good stuff.  But a Forbes article about people in their 40s and 50s recently caught our eye.  For this blog we borrowed a couple of ideas from the author and added a few of our own to make the point that experienced salespeople in their 40s and 50s also need and want coaching.

So let’s take a look at some ideas that are particularly important for coaching more experienced salespeople in their 40s and 50s.

  • Remember praise.  According to the Forbes author, people in their 40s and 50s receive much less praise than they did in their 30s but lack of praise is missed by this age group just as much as by younger, less experienced people.  Because they receive less praise it is a particularly good idea to start any sales coaching session with 40s and 50s cohort members with something positive.
  • Letting go.  The business environment is changing rapidly so although a salesperson may have been selling for 20 or 30 years, it’s likely they’re facing new sales challenges – changing customer expectations, new competitors, new call points, and new technologies. This means they will need to let go of some sales practices that worked for them in the past – and adopt some new ones  And, changing behavior is difficult when one is used to doing something one-way.
  • Help vs. tell.  A traditional model for sales coaching sounds something like the following: “I’m the expert – I’ll diagnose what’s wrong and suggest what you should learn.  Your job is to practice what I recommend.”  An alternative model that works better in general and is preferred for more experienced sales reps sounds more like: “You are the one responsible for the learning.  I’m responsible for helping you become more aware of your performance and expand your learning choices.”
  • Leveraging success.  One of the advantages of being in ones 40s and 50s is you have learned how to do some things well.  One of classic traps of sales coaching is to focus strictly on deficiencies – that is what is the salesperson doing wrong.  But given that someone in this older cohort has developed some great ideas, the coach needs to help the salesperson find new ways to leverage those strengths, as well as, to correct deficiencies.

One of the more fundamental good ideas in sales coaching is one-size-does-not-fit-all.  How one coaches needs to be fine-tuned to a number of different parameters including age.  Most importantly, every salesperson needs sales coaching.

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©2015  Sales Momentum, LLC

About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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