One confusing component of effective sales management is that great sales management skills don't always translate into great sales results. This phenomenon is most obvious when a company hires a terrific, new sales manager, who possesses all the desired skills, and the manager fails to have an immediate impact. Worse, in many cases, is when the inherited salespeople rebel! This scenario also occurs when sales managers go to seminars, watch video clips, read books or blogs, and attempt to extract specific skills and tips but don't have the luxury of hearing them demonstrated, in context, in a real situation. When Objective Management Group conducts a sales force evaluation, we often see that sales managers' skills are much better than the resulting effectiveness of those skills. Why is that?
Sales coaching is not a solo endeavor. It's a lot like playing doubles in tennis. You can take tennis lessons and improve, but unless your tennis partner has been taking lessons and practicing along with you, your personal development won't translate into more victories, as opponents quickly realize that they can simply force the ball to your weaker partner.
Let's assume that you have plus sales coaching skills. You know how long you should coach, how frequently you should coach, what subject to coach on, how to expertly debrief, role-play and identify the specific cause of an outcome, and get to lessons learned and action steps. You can effectively strategize an upcoming sales call and you can coach right in the middle of a live sales call without ever taking over the call. You're a master.
Now let's take that mastery to your sales force and consider these five factors:
- The strength of your relationship with each salesperson;
- If they trust your intentions and if you trust them to follow through;
- If they respect you and your experience or you lack credibility with them;
- If your salespeople are open, coachable or resistant to your efforts to help; and
- If you pressure them, micro-manage them, or often ignore them.
Your collection of sales coaching skills is only one factor. Consider the matrix below where one's effectiveness and overall impact is in direct proportion to the five factors listed above. The score indicates how effective a sales manager will be, depending on their level sales coaching proficiency and the conditions of their sales environment:
Table 1.0 Overall Effectiveness
We will be showing managers how to shape their sales environment at next week's Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston. This is the last week to register! We'll also demonstrate how to master the art of coaching salespeople. Hope to see you there. Email me if you would like to attend.