Sales Managers should be coaching 50% of the time they spend with salespeople.  See the info graphic below for the reason why. 

Hint:  49% greater effectiveness.

Let’s discuss one opportunity a sales manager has to provide coaching:  the weekly 1 on 1 session with the salesperson.  You are leading a weekly 1 on 1 meeting, right? 

These meetings should be positive.  Eventually, the salesperson comes to the table with situations in which they are looking for coaching.

Ideally, the meeting is scheduled for 30 to 45 minutes. If your technology stack includes a robust CRM & culture of accountability has been established, the sales activity and behaviors conversations should only take 30 to 50% of the allotted time. Every salesperson is different. The time will fluctuate based on the salesperson willingness to test the sales manager and their mindset.   Good and great salespeople know their numbers and know they need to be meeting reasonable metrics consistently.

The other 50 to 70% of the time is focused around coaching the individual based on their particular skill gap.

(Desired Performance – Current Performance = Skill Gap) I set expectations around this meeting as half of the meeting is mine and half is theirs. This helps them realize I am there to help.

This next concept is key to setting a tone for the session.  I start the meeting by getting a gauge on the salesperson’s mindset.  Where are they at emotionally?  Where is their energy level?  On a scale of 1 to 10.  Ten being absolutely amazing, I am on track to exceed my goals. However, I am concerned with anything under 7 and need to understand and help them get some energy. This gets the focus on them immediately. It allows them to talk about something if necessary and gives the sales manager data.

My general recommendation for the coaching component of the session is to look to the opportunities in the pipeline.  I am looking for unqualified deals.  Opportunities where the salesperson skipped steps in the sales process and or, the deal is stuck. 

You do have a sales process that is staged and milestone centric, right?  How else would you know if an opportunity is stuck or where it is in your sales process?

We talk about an opportunity; specifically, I De-Brief an opportunity with the salesperson.  This maybe a stalled opportunity in the pipeline. It may also be an opportunity that the salesperson brings to the session ready to discuss.  Here lies the opportunity to move the needle and coach!

We start with the end – where they are now – and allow me to ask questions.  The sales manager needs the skills to use the Socratic Method to ask a series of questions to help the salesperson discover what they need to do.  

We teach the salespeople by asking them questions and leading them to the answer, not by giving them answers.

This model assumes the sales manager has created an environment around accountability, and has gained compliance from the sales team.  Consequences must be implemented for lack of compliance.  The ultimate compliance is termination.  However, if a sales manager has established that they are there to listen to the salespeople and be empathetic, compliance will come more easily. If you need more help with a culture of accountability, send me an email.

For specific help coaching sales managers and salespeople, we might be able to help with one of our platforms and services. 

Walter has been working successfully in Sales, Sales Development and Sales Management for over 31 years. He is passionate about developing sales professionals for CEOs &Business Owners. If you are frustrated and fed up with sales people who are not accountable, a sales team that is inconsistent and fail to meet objectives, and you want to fix it once and for all, we should have a business conversation. We bring science to creating high performance sales teams that on average grow over 32% in 12 months.