As a sales manager, when was the last time you thought, “Well, I have all this extra time on my hands. Guess I’ll spend it coaching my team”? I’m guessing...never. Sales managers are often expected to sell in addition to coaching their team to higher levels of performance. Throw in the hyper-pace of today’s work environment, a global labor shortage, increasing IT and administrative responsibilities, differing expectations between corporate and sales people and – Whew! No wonder sales management can be a tough gig.
We know that Organizations can gain a 29% increase in topline salesforce performance due to the skills of sales managers, independent of the skills of their salespeople.
So, here’s some much needed good news: Good coaching takes less time you think.
Research from Wilson Learning Worldwide reveals some interesting and surprising results about effective coaching that yields the best results:
1. The most effective sales manager coaching is “curb-side coaching".
The 2 to 4 minute “just in time” coaching conversations managers have with their team members before and after sales calls are actually the most critical.
It’s not necessary to wait to coach until you can schedule a large block of time to make calls with your reps. And you don’t need lengthy meetings or virtual calls either. Keep it short, relevant, just in time.
2. More frequent, shorter coaching is more effective than longer but infrequent coaching sessions.
In other words, it’s better to have ten 4 minute coaching conversations than one 60 minute coaching session.
3. Separate positive coaching for reinforcement from coaching for change.
The next time your sales rep does something fabulous, keep the feedback specific and focused on what he/she did well. And on only what they did well!
Resist the temptation to sandwich in “negative” feedback because you have limited time. Put the spotlight on the positive. Do this a few times and they might actually hear your accolades (and, subsequently, keep repeating the good behavior) instead of waiting for the other negative “shoe” to drop. Many well intended compliments have been negated by the dreaded “Yea, BUT...” No Buts! Our brains automatically delete all the good stuff that’s said before the BUT, and focus only on what comes after.
4. The simpler the coaching process, the better.
There is no need for fancy process, just three simple and conversational steps. To accomplish this, many of our clients have adopted a short, simple, and easy-to-remember coaching process called “The ABC’s of Sales Coaching.”
Align expectations: Engage your sales rep in a dialogue to make sure they are clear on what is expected of them.
Behavior observations: “What I saw was...” “What I heard was...”
Coaching conversation: “What do you think you should do differently in the future...”
Changing human behavior has got to be one of the most challenging vocations of all time. Ask any coach or parent for that matter. But that’s what we coaches are most often charged to do.
Sometimes, we humans tend to overcomplicate things. How refreshing that the research is showing us that, when it comes to coaching, what works is Simple, Short, Relevant and Just in Time. Pretty Cool.
Everyone has four minutes. Maximize the impact by trying the curbside coaching challenge. Your small but frequent investment of time as a manager coach could increase your sales team’s performance by more than 43%. That’s a compelling ROI.
Let me know how it goes and, as always, let me know how I can help!