While delivering our Sales Management Leadership workshop recently, a medical equipment sales manager in the audience raised his hand and said, “I see myself as more of a “player-coach.” I asked him to elaborate.
He went on to share a recent example when he was working with one of his more productive and experienced salespeople. They had just concluded a meeting with a physician in a hospital and were walking toward the exit. Their next appointment was not for another two hours, so the sales manager asked his rep, “Is there any reason why, now that we’re inside this hospital, you aren’t going to pick up the house phone over there and call a few more prospects for appointments?” Calls made from a hospital’s in-house phone don’t get screened like calls from outside the building.
The salesperson replied, “Physicians don’t like to be interrupted in that way, so I don’t do that.”
Where-upon the player-coach marched to the nearby house phone, picked it up, and succeeded in scheduling an appointment with the first person who answered, a physician. “See, the house phone works,” he said. He made a few more phone calls for the salesperson, and then the two of them went on their way to her next appointment.
Indeed, this sales manager was a player-coach. He did demonstrate to his salesperson that once in the hospital, the house phone is an effective tool for setting new appointments.
But the sales manager made a big mistake – he demonstrated how to perform an important sales task, but he didn’t obtain commitment from the salesperson that she would start making these types of calls in the future. In sales vernacular, he made a great demo but he didn’t “close the sale” by obtaining commitment.
Every sales coaching discussion should conclude with a request for commitment to change. And, every coaching discussion should include a follow-up step by you. By following-up, and inspecting what you expect, you show your commitment to helping the salesperson be the best he or she can be. And, you send the message to your sales team that your expectations of performance are not to be taken lightly.