I was on a coaching call with a Sales Manager last night, who I’ll call Steve and the issue came up as to the actual role of a Sales Manager. To my surprise, Steve held the view until recently that the role of the Sales Manager was a largely administrative role involving preparing reports, assembling metrics and holding the sales team accountable for hitting their targets.
I was fascinated to hear that this was in fact the view held by many sales managers who had risen from the ranks of the sales team into this leadership role. It demonstrates how little training is given to Sales Managers before they are given the critical role of managing the sales department. To view Sales Management in such a narrow way is to vastly underestimate the importance of the role to the future success of the company.
The number one role of the Sales Manager is to Coach his team. At least 40-50% of a sales Managers time should be spent coaching and building the capabilities of his sales team. In it’s simplest form, sales coaching consists of:
- Pre-Call Strategizing – Coaching salespeople prior to selected calls to ensure that they have a good reason for having the call, a clear desired outcome, a game plan or strategy, clarity as to the differentiated value that you offer the prospect and the appropriate questions and dialog to achieve the desired results.
- Post-Call Debriefing – Coaching after specific sales calls to discover the true outcome of the call, why the salesperson got the outcome that they did, what they could have done differently or more effectively and how their hidden weaknesses may have impacted them on the call. Salespeople have Happy Ears, they hear what they want to hear; the role of the sales manager in post call debriefing is to eliminate Happy Ears and get to the true outcome of the sales call.
- Role Playing – Working with the sales team to role play specific sales scenarios and to assist the team members to identify the correct behaviours on sales calls and eliminate weaknesses that may impede their sales success. Most salespeople don’t like roleplay but it is without doubt one of the best ways for a salesperson to dramatically improve their sales performance.
In my call with Steve, I role played a pre-call strategy session that he would need to have with one of his team members that day and took him through the key elements that need to be included in this session. It was challenging to Steve, as he wanted his salespeople to like him but he saw that it was vital that he challenge their thinking and ensure that every sales call has the best possible opportunity for success.
Great Sales Managers are great Coaches …… they challenge their teams and prepare them for success. Are you doing this as well as you could be?