Why your sales manager doesn’t coach

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Most would agree, the idea of coaching makes a lot of sense – in sales, and elsewhere.

Why wouldn’t you want someone with great, relevant experience talking through challenges with people who want to improve?

We even seek these conversations outside of professional life – like when we talk to a friend about a problem. Just the act of talking it through can foster the kinds of insights and new perspectives that you usually can’t get other ways.

So why does coaching happen so rarely (and poorly) in most sales organizations?

Short answer – front line managers are often tasked with coaching (among too many other things), but:

  • They carry a big quota and struggle to find time to do much other than chase it.
  • They don’t get training about how to coach, and what to coach on.
  • There is no “common language” (i.e. selling system / process / framework) for managers to use with reps to make assessment and communication efficient and consistent.
  • There is no KPI attached to coaching, so while senior management says it’s important, it’s not recognized where and when “it counts”.

I could go on, but please – notice the theme.

The things that often prevent front line managers from effectively coaching reps are things squarely in the domain of senior management.

If you are a senior manager and you want to improve the results of your sales team, this is a point worth recognizing.

I was a guest on a great podcast recently with Richard Smith from Refract where we went into some of these issues more deeply – you can find that here.

I also put together a simulated panel discussion with six great sales experts from a wide range of experiences and perspectives:

The piece has received a very warm reception. You can hear the interviews and get the write up here.

In any case, if you are a sales leader and you want to harness the experience of your most accomplished reps (like the one you promoted to manager), you need to be deliberate about making room for that.

Recognizing this is a good first step. Getting resources to help you is a good next step.

I hope this article and the resources it points to are helpful. If you would like to talk about what other help might be available, ask in the comments or contact me.

I would be happy to support your efforts to make things work better for you, your company, your reps and your managers – and ultimately your customers.

So here’s to an honest look in the mirror, to taking steps to make things better, and to your ongoing success!

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