According to Objective Management Group's considerable data, only 15% of all sales managers spend as much as 25% of their time on coaching and the time they do spend on coaching is generally ineffective. Two more statistics from OMG reveal that 18% of them shouldn't even be in sales management, and 34% of them aren't trainable because they lack the incentive to change. And one last statistic, a whopping 84% of sales managers just plain suck!
If you're a sales manager and you're reading this, I can be quite certain of my next statement. You are not one of the 84% that suck, you are not one of the 34% that isn't trainable, and you are not one of the 18% that shouldn't be in sales management. However, you could be one of the sales managers who are generally ineffective at coaching.
With that said, it shouldn't come as a surprise when I tell you how much time we spent on sales coaching in a 3-Day Sales Leadership Intensive that I just completed yesterday. The plan was to spend day 3 on Sales Recruiting Process. The plan was to spend days 1 and 2 on shaping the sales environment, infrastructure (systems, processes, pipeline, metrics and tools), motivation and incentives, accountability and daily huddles, development and coaching. The coaching portion was slotted for about 3-4 hours depending on our progress. We spent nearly two full days on coaching! We started discussing coaching an hour into the first day, spent the rest of day 1, all but the last 30 minutes of day 2, and the first 30 minutes of day 3 on coaching! And in addition, the participants had to schedule and conduct real coaching calls later on both days.
Why so much time? It is simply that important and sales managers, regional sales managers, sales VP's, worldwide sales VP's, sales directors, and even Presidents and CEO's need to improve at coaching. One of the factors that made the time allotment possible was that this was private training for a client so the participants can catch up on the subjects we covered lightly or didn't cover at all. And this company, like so many clients, is an underdog in their space and that's the point of this post.
If you aren't the low price leader or one of the two or three best-known brands in your industry, and if buying from you does NOT represent the safe choice for your customers, then you are an underdog. And if you are an underdog, you had better be providing comprehensive sales and sales management training and coaching because you can't compete on price or reputation. The only way you'll be able to consistently win is to outsell your competition and you can't do that by making presentations, generating quotes and proposals and chasing the business.
So what could we have spent so much time on in discussing how to effectively coach salespeople? It was the format, structure, nuances, resistance lowering, timing, frequency, special effects, tactics, strategies, lessons and applications. There were real examples that we studied, as well as coaching assignments, debriefs, revelations and transformations. Typical coaching does not go beyond the "what" where you suggest what a salesperson should have done or should do next. But that isn't coaching. These coaches realized that to be effective at coaching they must be coaches first and always, and help their salespeople get to the "how" of selling - the dialog that must occur - in order to succeed. They also learned that behind every mistake, there is a need to differentiate between a skill gap which can be taught, and a weakness which must be identified and overcome over time.
Finally, they learned that coaching is not something you provide passively on demand, rather proactively, to each salesperson, every day. It is time for you to become a full-time sales coach! Just think of the impact it will have on your revenue and profit.