Sales coaching has two components: performance management and developmental coaching. Performance management is a quarterly one-on-one meeting where you review a rep’s sales results, activity level, and evaluate their performance. Developmental coaching, on the other hand, is about developing the salesperson’s competence and willingness to sell better going forward.
In short, performance management looks primarily to the past; developmental coaching looks to the future. “Good” sales coaching consists of both performance management and developmental coaching.
The problem is that with all the distractions sales managers face, the first thing to go out the window is developmental coaching. You fall back on a quarterly performance review that for many of us has become more of a creative writing exercise. We haven’t observed the salesperson selling, or intervened at milestones during a sales process, so when a sales rep performs poorly we’re not sure why.
If the only type of coaching we sales managers are doing is evaluative in nature, then salespeople don’t think of it as coaching. They think of it as criticism.
In contrast, if you’re helping your salespeople to think through what they need to do win a sale and at the same time striving to improve their selling skills – which is developmental coaching – then your salespeople will more readily accept all of your suggestions, both performance management and developmental coaching.
Any sales manager not actively engaged in developmental coaching would, in my opinion, fall into the “Low” coaching effectiveness category of the above research. For you to consider yourself a coach of “medium” effectiveness you must be engaged in developmental coaching on a regular basis.
To achieve a significant increase in sales you don’t have to be a great sales coach – you just have to be a good sales coach. But to be a good sales coach you’ve got to spend more time developing salespeople’s skill and abilities. Think back to how you spent your time last week – How much time did you devote to developmental coaching?