How Leaders Drive Revenue with Sales Coaching
A Culture of Coaching Won’t Happen Because of a Series of Training Programs or Classes.
If your goal is to profitably increase revenue, the pivotal role in the sales organization is not sales reps. It’s sales management.
Each individual seller is, of course, critical to success in a region, territory, or book of business. Sales management, however, has far greater impact on growth by improving the overall sales performance for a team.
Scaling that improvement is the critical success factor for sales management. And that requires a focus on coaching and developing sales talent.
It won’t happen by declaration, or sending people to training programs. If a significant part of the role isn’t dedicated to developing the talent on the team, then why even have a manager? Most managers claim to coach, but it seems to me that few actually provide consistent and valuable development.
A major disconnect
A few years ago I did some research on this with the sales organization of a Fortune 500 telecommunications company. Leaders reported that they spent significant time coaching their direct reports, and scored themselves high on their efforts — just below the 80th percentile.
But direct reports had a very different experience, saying that they’d received little to no coaching from their leaders and scored them low — on average around just the 38th percentile.
Major disconnect, right?
It was clear that direct reports understood that coaching ought to improve their performance and help them get better. What happens most often is a pattern of requesting information, updating forecasts, and reporting on what’s already happened. That isn’t really coaching. Coaching requires a focused effort on developing talent and building sales capability.
If you want to leverage coaching as a competitive advantage to increase revenue, you’ll need to do these things.
Redefine the roles and responsibilities of sales leadership to prioritize building sales capability
Too often, managers are focused on reporting and deal support. That’s fine, but absent a clear mandate centered on developing sales talent, the job becomes inspection oriented and does little to produce long term success. Sales managers coach and prepare the people working for them to perform at their highest level. Similar to athletics, coaches coach and players play.
Allocate attention, metrics, and time to developing sales talent
It’s critical to establish performance standards and uniform expectations, provide resources, and incentivize successful results. This is not only about sales managers coaching sales professionals. It seems the further up the hierarchy you go, the less is done to develop sales leadership talent. The coaches need coaching! This effort is especially important for sales, considering many professionals in sales leadership roles came up through the ranks of sales as top sellers—not top developers of talent.
Incentivize and recognize coaching success
While it’s not always as clear as achieving or missing a number, no one will believe you are serious about this without recognition and reward. It can’t be viewed as extra credit or something that you can get to at the end of the day if you have time. Recognize and reward those who coach well just as you would with any other vital responsibility.
It’s tempting to hand this kind of work off to HR since they frequently have the domain of people development. That’s a mistake. With no disrespect to HR professionals (I started my career in HR by the way), this is about leadership of the sales function.
A culture of coaching won’t happen because of a series of training programs or classes. As a leader of the business, you must drive this kind of change as a strategic imperative.
Source: Business Journals
Patty Block, President and Founder of The Block Group, established her company to advocate for women-owned businesses, helping them position their companies for strategic growth. From improving cash flow…. to increasing staff productivity…. to scaling for growth, these periods of transition — and so many more — provide both challenges and opportunities. Managed effectively, change can become a productive force for growth. The Block Group harnesses that potential, turning roadblocks into building blocks for women-owned businesses.
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