As I’m sure you know from personal experience, the single biggest complaint that sales managers make is their lack of time for coaching their reps. Developing clear priorities and managing your time better is, of course, a big part of the solution.
A completely different tactic is summarized in a comment that a client recently made to me: “The sales managers in my company are starting to treat every interaction with a rep as an opportunity to provide coaching,” she said.
I asked her to talk more about what she meant by coaching, and she said: “We always want to get the rep’s perspective so we can check on their thinking processes and make sure they are headed in right direction.”
“We’ve come to realize that often times the poor choices a rep makes is because they have misperceptions or incomplete information,” said my client. “Getting them to talk about their thinking and perspectives gives us a chance to understand where the gaps are in their understanding or skill set.”
She went on to explain that this focus is something different from other conversations that sales managers have with reps. It’s not “did you get the contract?” or “how’s that deal going?” or “who are the decision-makers at that client?” It’s simply a new emphasis that the managers are trying to weave into everyday conversations, no matter what the format of the interaction: face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and even text or email conversations.
I thought her comments were pretty insightful, don’t you? The purpose of coaching really is to make sure that your reps are headed in right direction. If you met that goal in every conversation you had with a rep, I think you’d see continuous improvement in your reps—and the sales results that go along with that.