The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

bad-stats

When you watch the news these days, it seems like all you hear is Russia, Immigration, North Korea, FBI, DOJ, liars and leakers, and the latest celebrities to be disgraced by their behavior.  You would think there wasn't anything else going on!

You might be having a similar experience with my recent articles as I have been sharing lots of data about salespeople - to the degree where you might think that nothing else matters.

Today we're diving into sales management and specifically, the Sales Management Coaching Competency. What you read will surely disappoint and shock you and might even cause you to puke in disgust.

Many sales experts have been talking about how important it is for sales managers to not only spend 50% of their time coaching, but for that coaching to be impactful as well.  Sales managers should be coaching to opportunities, and coaching on strategy, tactics, and pipeline.  They should be coaching up their salespeople and they need to be great at it.  But is any of this actually taking place?  Let's take a look.

We'll be digging intoObjective Management Group's (OMG) data from the evaluation of nearly 1.8 million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders.  For this study, I have mined the data from the most recent 9,000 sales managers to be evaluated along with their teams.

The first table shows the percentage of sales managers who are strong in the Sales Coaching Competency arranged by Sales Management Quotient.

coaching-as-strength

I'm sure you can easily see for yourself that outside of the top 3 percent of all sales managers, expecting sales managers to be effective at sales coaching is pretty much a pipe dream.  Only 10 percent of all sales managers are any good at coaching and most of them come from the strongest 15 percent.

Does it get any better when you look at the frequency of coaching? According to the salespeople who report to these sales managers, the majority of the coaching that takes place is on demand.  The next table shows that when salespeople don't ask for help, few sales managers proactively provide frequent coaching with "never" being the third most common scenario following on demand.  Only 10 percent are getting the daily or multiple times per week coaching we would hope for.  Could that 10 percent be reporting to the 10 percent of managers who are good at coaching?

coaching-frequency

We asked these sales managers how much time they spend on coaching and the next table shows just how grim the coaching situation really is. Read this table from the bottom right and up where you can see that 63% of all sales managers fall into the weak category and slightly more than half of those managers are spending no more than 10% of their time coaching.

coaching-time-spent

24% of all sales managers fall into the serviceable category and 70% of them are spending no more than 20% of their time coaching.  Of the remaining 13% (elite and strong) of all sales managers, just under half are spending no more than 30% of their time coaching. 

After all the preaching, teaching and beseeching, not much has changed in 10 years.  Sales managers aren't spending nearly enough time coaching their salespeople and when they do, the coaching is pathetic.  I recorded this 2-minute video to share my thoughts about the practical reality of widespread lousy sales management.

 

There are a several reasons for this:

  • Many of these sales managers maintain personal sales and their commissions far outweigh their sales management compensation and they don't have the time nor do they want to make the time for coaching.
  • They think that coaching is what happens when they do a ride along or listen in on a phone call.
  • They think that telling a salesperson what to do, helping with pricing or specs, or asking how a call went is coaching
  • They aren't able to execute the single most important and effective element of sales coaching - the role play.

There is an important discussion taking place here on LinkedIn on this article and in the comments, Barbara Giamanco suggested adding three additional reasons to the list:

  • Managers are not given training in how to coach. Since they don't know how to effectively coach they either - don't do it, or do it badly. Plus, it is highly likely that they aren't being coached by their boss either.
  • There isn't a coaching culture that provides the foundation for giving managers the time needed to invest in coaching well and often. In other words, senior leadership doesn't buy into the importance of coaching.
  • The managers themselves don't see the value, so they don't do it.  Like so many things we see in sales today that haven't changed, people seem to keep defaulting to what they've always done even if it isn't working.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.  There were more than 85 comments when I added this link.

More!  I've written a lot about effective coaching.  Here are five of the best articles:

Article

Article

Article

Article

Article

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales data, Sales Coaching, sales management competencies, Dave Kurlan, omg

Harvard Business Review Blog Off Target on Sales Greatness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 23:03 PM

This recent article in the Harvard Business Review Blog was as far off target as any I have ever debunked.  Steve Martin lists 7 characteristics that he says differentiate great sales forces from good ones.  His seven are:

  1. Strong Centralized Command and Control with Local Authority, 
  2. Darwinian Sales Culture, 
  3. United Against a Common Enemy, 
  4. Competitive but Cohesive Team, 
  5. DIY Attitude, 
  6. They Suspend Negative Belief Systems, and 
  7. There is Energy and Esprit de Corps!

Compare that with the six I wrote about in this article:

  1. Effective Sales Selection for Appropriate Sales DNA,
  2. Effective Sales Coaching,
  3. Effective Sales Accountability,
  4. Formal, Structured Consultative Sales Process,
  5. Sales and Sales Leadership Training, and
  6. Coaching and Development and Hunting for New Business.

By the way, I'll be leading our top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, May 14-15, 2013, and we'll be doing justice to all six of my competencies.
Steve's seven characteristics may be common among the 200 companies he worked with, but common is not the same as cause.  Whether these seven characteristics are adopted or not is dependent on personnel.  As noted on my list, if the #1 priority of a sales organization is the selection of top talent, most of Steve's seven characteristics are unnecessary.  If the #1 priority of a sales organization is to protect the status quo, and/or retain underperforming veteran salespeople, Steve's seven characteristics may be more necessary.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has studied 650,000 salespeople and 100,000 sales managers from around 10,000 companies and if we looked only at common findings, we would be completely misled about the top sales management core competencies.
Whether you call them competencies or characteristics, which ones will actually cause a sales force to perform to their greatest potential?  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales management functions, harvard business review, sales enablement, sales management competencies

Missing on the "Secrets to Developing Successful Sales Managers"

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 @ 13:02 PM

An interesting article, Secrets to Developing Successful Sales Managers, by Xactly's CEO, Christopher Cabrera, was posted on Selling Power's 2/19/13 blog.  I suggest that you read it first, returning to this article for the analysis.

I thought that the first half of the article was spot on.

I thought that the second half was as bad as the first half was good.

Here's why:  He said to hire for characteristics and train for competencies.  That's okay, as long as we identify the correct characteristics and competencies, which he didn't.  And when we train for competencies, that should be fine-tuning, not wholesale development.  It's one thing if the sales manager doesn't have salespeople reporting to him/her yet, but if we expect the sales manager to inherit a group of veteran salespeople, that's not the ideal scenario for on-the-job training!

So, what are the correct competencies?  This article lists the top 10 sales management competencies.

Today, 50% of a sales manager's job (especially the front line manager to whom Chris refers) is coaching!!!  That doesn't appear on his list and it's the competency on which sales managers consistently score the lowest.  According to Objective Management Group's endless source of data, sales managers possess, on average, only 45% of the attributes of an effective sales coach.  And this will come as a surprise:  In which attributes are they most deficient?  Selling skills!  After all, how can we expect sales managers to coach salespeople to be any more effective than they are?

That brings us to the next problem.  Was that new sales manager really that effective as a salesperson or was this individual simply managing greater revenue than anyone else?  Were they existing accounts which were being managed or were new accounts being brought in?

Companies routinely mislabel salespeople as being top producers when the reality is that they're usually great account managers who've inherited the best accounts or territory.  It's often the less visible salespeople who are the best producers, bringing in new business, one deal at a time, but growing their revenue just the same.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management coaching, Xactly, sales management competencies, objective management group, selling power

The Latest Tools to Grow Your Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 @ 16:04 PM

Today, rather than one of my analogies stories or case histories, I'm going to let you know about few upcoming events and the latest book launch.

TODAY - If there was just one area where the majority (94%) of salespeople (remember 6% are elite and have this mastered) could improve, it would be at using their listening and questioning skills to carry on effective and appropriate sales conversations that lead to closing business. Mike Schultz and John Doerr, partners at RAIN Group have just released a new book, Rainmaking Conversations, which teaches you everything you need to know about leading masterful sales conversations. And if you purchase the book today from Amazon.com, you can take advantage of a whole bunch of bonus gifts, courtesy of sales experts from far and wide (including one from me), just for purchasing a copy of the book. 

So get your copy at Amazon.com. Then stop by: www.RainGroup.com/Book/Bonuses to pick up all the bonuses. 

MAY - Top Sales World is hosting the 2011 Sales and Marketing Success Conference - an entire week of online presentations for salespeople and sales managers, from the industry's top experts.  The sessions are compelling and the $5 per session registration fees are even more compelling.  Not only that, the proceeds are going to the Red Cross for the Japanese Relief Effort.  The Conference runs from May 9 -13 and my session kicks off day 3.  For more information and to register, click here.

ALSO IN MAY - My top-rated 3-Day Sales Leadership Intensive will be offered again on May 25-27.  You can read all of the details here.  If you manage salespeople or sales managers, and want to master the art of coaching, motivating, sales selection and accountability - and you want to spend 3 days with a lot of personal attention from me, this is the place to be!

Topics: sales leadership training, sales management competencies, sales management boot camp, great sales management training

13 Most Important Tools for Coaching Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 @ 06:11 AM

This is the 1st in the series of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions.

#1 - COACHING

In its simplest form, sales coaching consists of the following two activities:

  1. Pre-Call Strategizing - coaching prior to selected calls to make sure that the salesperson has a good reason for having the upcoming call, a desired outcome, a game plan or strategy, and the appropriate questions/dialog to achieve the desired outcome.
  2. Post-Call Debriefing - coaching after selected calls to discover the true outcome of the call, why the salesperson got that outcome, and what they could have done differently or more effectively

Coaching should be performed on the following time line:

  • daily
  • 10-15 minutes
  • with each salesperson
  • pro actively not passively

Coaching has the following hierarchy:

  • facts
  • strategy
  • role-play
  • lesson-learned
  • action plan

Here's a video of me discussing coaching....

 

I have written about coaching before.  You can read this article that briefly discusses the "how of sales coaching" and then you must read this great example of the "how of coaching" in this article that examines a real sales coaching scenario through a marked up email thread.

I wrote this article about coaching salespeople beyond happy ears. I wrote this article about the required skills for effective sales coaching.

The most important tools for effectively coaching salespeople are:

  • standardized formal sales process so we can talk specifically about where we are in the process with this specific opportunity;
  • world-class listening and questioning skills so that we can ask the questions to go deeper and wider in role-plays;
  • the ability to role-play the salesperson's part of the sales call - no matter where it is or what it is;
  • the ability to poke holes and question everything you hear;
  • the ability to remain in the moment and not become emotionally involved;
  • No Need for Approval so that you can say, ask or do whatever is necessary to get your salesperson to the next level;
  • Patience - you can only take baby steps;
  • Experience - you need to have been there;
  • Wisdom - you have to just know!;
  • Sense of Humor - keep it light;
  • Respect of your Salespeople;
  • Trust of your Salespeople;
  • Relationship with your Salespeople.
(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales effectiveness, sales management competencies

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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