As a sales manager, if you are managing your time well, and balancing priorities enough to be coaching your reps –congratulations!! A big dilemma faced by most sales managers, though, is how to coach and more importantly whom do you commit the bulk of your sales coaching time to? Who you coach is every bit as important as how you coach.
Like most sales managers, you likely have some “A” players, your top performers. You also some have “C” players — the people who are always at the bottom in terms of results and attitudes. And most of your reps are “B” players — the people in the middle.
Where do you currently spend most of your one-on-one coaching time? Lots of sales managers tell me that they spend their coaching time on the “A” players, helping to win the biggest deals, or on the “C” players because those people need the most help. Both of those approaches, however, are not where you are going to get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s right… your biggest payoff from coaching will come from placing extra emphasis on your “B” players.
In our Sales Coaching & Leadership Workshop, sales managers rate their salespeople using a tool we call the “Success Profile,” and the outcome for managers is a better understanding of who they should apply extra coaching time to. The “Success Profile” groups salespeople according to their skill and will. Skill being a salesperson’s aptitude or proficiency at applying your company’s sales process. And Will is more of an individual’s interest in improving… and most importantly, their willingness to be coached.
Once you have these ratings, look for the high payoff coaching candidates — the people who have a lot of will to improve, who will listen to your advice and then act on it. That’s where you want to spend a majority of your one-on-one coaching time. You should include any new hires in this category, too, since they deserve enough of your time so they can learn the ropes before becoming self sufficient.
As for the others, you need to find ways to keep your “A” players engaged. If they are enthusiastic, ask them to become a mentor for a newer rep. If their motivation is low, find out what is demotivating them and see if new opportunities or challenges can get them more excited about the job. Sit down with them and help them rediscover their personal goals.
The trickiest group to deal with are your “C” players. Your HR department won’t like it if you ignore these people, and they are owed your attention simply by being part of your team. But you can’t ignore the fact that even great coaching is unlikely to have a major positive impact on the results that people in this group achieve. So look for ways to leverage your time and impact with the “C” players. For example, work with them as a group, in meetings or webinars.
Leadership is, in part, the ability to make the right choice about how to apply yourself on the job. When you move a B player up to an A player you create competition at the top of your sales team. And the sales results will certainly follow.