Being a Sales Manager is a hard job! It was described to me once like being trapped between to funnels. The funnel at the top is pressure coming from the C-Suite, shareholders and other departments (credit, transportation, and operations come to mind). This pressure comes in the form of new company initiatives, minimum expectations for growth, new policy, and procedure to name just a handful. The other funnel is from the bottom coming up. This pressure comes from the marketplace, the competition, and customers. Oh and let’s not forget about our sellers! They all need (demand) things like; better terms and conditions (read lower pricing), early deliveries, extended credit and so much more. Sales Managers, caught between the two sets of pressures, often find it necessary to become; salesperson, counselor, a cop (both good and bad), spin-doctor, mediator, court reporter, mentor and so on.
I can tell you from personal experience the description above is very accurate. I can also tell you it is no way to run a sales team and it doesn’t scale a business. It took a couple of years, lots of mistakes, and some excellent coaching to discover the best way to grow sales was to make the transition to Sales Coach. The job isn’t to grow sales…it’s to grow Sales Professionals. Not easy by any means, and it doesn’t eliminate all the other things required or needed. It merely emphasized where to focus attention. Here are the three things a Sales Coach MUST focus on:
1) Reviewing the Current Team
Keeping your finger on the pulse of the team is critical. This comes in the form of pipeline reviews, sales stats, KPI metric reviews, one on ones, field work-with days, sales skills assessments and CRM reviews. If you aren’t constantly aware of where every member of your team stands in relationship to the sales targets and personal goals it will be challenging to meet or exceed your sales targets and personal goals. It will be impossible to know where you need to go to work too!
2) Ongoing Training & Coaching
The difference between training and coaching can be a bit confusing. I look at it this way—training is the transfer of information and knowledge. Coaching is improving the execution of the knowledge. Said another way – “There’s a difference between knowing what to do and being good at doing it.” Training on product and industry knowledge is a must, and so is sales skill training! Training is for the classroom and coaching is for the field (or office if you are an inside sales force).
3) Recruiting New Talent
You are going to lose people. Despite your best efforts, you will make a bad hire; someone’s going to quit, get promoted or retire. You cannot change any of these things. The difference between a manager and a coach? A good coach will have a strong bench built. A bench of talented people he or she can tap when there is a need. This doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by design. It requires the coach to know precisely what a successful sales rep looks like. Recruiting is to the Sales Coach as prospecting is to the Sales Professional. Don’t be a victim to HR, Craigslist, Monster or LinkedIn. The most talented people in your field aren’t looking for jobs! You’ll need to constantly be on the lookout for talent.
Everything else is management at best and administrative minutia at worst!
If you want more information on how to manage these three areas more effectively shoot me an email with ‘3 things’ in the subject line.