Last week I attended an excellent Train the Trainer course in selling skills.  One thing that became increasingly apparent as we worked through the week was how important it would be for sales people trying to adopt their newly learnt skills to be coached regularly on their implementation.  This would be essential to help them embed new behaviours into their daily routines.

But how many sales managers are effective coaches?

The problem with sales people is that they are (have to be) inherently optimistic.  So ask them for their personal view of what went right or wrong in a sales call and it’s pretty likely you’ll get an inaccurate response.  What is needed is an objective observer who can give accurate feedback on the behaviours being employed (and not).

What do most sales managers do?  They spend their time measuring sales efficiencies – sales results, numbers of calls, order to call ratios etc.  What few of them do very well is to focus on sales effectiveness – observing in detail what happens in sales calls, giving detailed and accurate feedback to the sales person and coaching them on ways of making it better next time.

In fact, how many sales managers spend time regularly out in the field with their sales people on normal, day to day calls?  Not just the big, important ones where the customer wants to see the boss.

Our trainer compared this, rather topically, with a football manager or coach.

“Imagine the manager telling his team what he wanted them to do in the match and then saying at the end that he wouldn’t be there with them”.

Being an effective sales manager should be largely about optimising the potential of the individuals in the team.  And coaching is the most effective way of achieving that.